TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A House Bill directed at shoring up budget issues related to inflation takes near-direct aim at the current President of the United States.
The bill, called the Budgeting for Inflation that Drives Elevated Needs Fund would move $2 billion out of Florida’s General Revenue fund to handle increased spending costs from inflation.
The BIDEN Fund and its formational bill, as acronymed, directs Florida’s Chief Financial Officer to transfer the $2 billion into a fund administered by the Governor, to provide a state method to “counter increased inflation” that would affect the General Appropriations Act for 2022, or the state budget plan.
House Bill 5011, the BIDEN Fund, makes no bones about its purpose.
According to the bill’s text, “unwieldy federal spending during the COVID-19 pandemic” has caused consumer prices to surge faster than what the country has “seen in over 30 years.” As a result, the bill says the state must act to keep sufficient funding available to offset what it calls inflation spikes.
The BIDEN Fund would be established as “the primary funding source to offset budget amendments” needed to counter the increased inflation, should it exceed funds appropriated in this year’s budget legislation.
The COVID-19 pandemic, beginning in March 2020 while former President Donald Trump was in office, rocked financial stability across the globe. No industry or business was left untouched by the economic challenges of COVID-19. Federal spending, starting with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by U.S. Congress and signed into law by Trump to address those impacts and provide stability to Americans.
After President Joe Biden took office, a second stimulus bill was passed by Congress and signed into law, the American Rescue Plan Act, which committed an additional $1.9 trillion to assist American citizens, businesses and industries in weathering the challenges presented by an ongoing pandemic.
Inflation in 2021 reached multiple historic milestones of price surges. Legislative analysis of HB 5011 said the current levels of inflation are heretofore outside of the norm, and the state needs a specially assigned trust fund to manage the needs of the state due to what it describes as an inflation-induced “fall in the purchasing value of money.”
“The bill provides that the legislature recognizes that federal economic policies have resulted in unprecedented inflation, and that Florida must take action to ensure there is a sufficient source of funds to provide flexibility for budget amendments necessary to offset inflation spikes,” the analysis said.
Any budget changes higher than $1 million would need to be approved by the Legislative Budget Commission, as required by state statutes.
The bill in the Florida Legislature, as written, sets up the BIDEN Fund to expire by July 1, 2026, “unless terminated sooner.” The $2 billion fund would be established within the Executive Office of the Governor.
HB 5011 is on the schedule for the Florida Senate’s Committee on Appropriations Tuesday for review. Should the bill become law, it would take effect on July 1.