The word out of Tallahassee is that the $91.1 billion state budget approved by state lawmakers last month will be delivered to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday. Once it does, DeSantis will have 15 days to decide to allow the 448-page document to become law or use his line-item veto pen to make cuts to the spending plan that takes effect July 1.
Speaking at an event in Central Florida on Tuesday, DeSantis suggested action on the budget could come as early as next week.
“Some of them [budget items] obviously just don’t pass muster with me, so they’re not going to make it,” DeSantis said as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. “There’s others that definitely pass muster, so they will.”
DeSantis and legislative leaders appeared to be pleased with the accomplishments lawmakers passed as part of the spending plan on the final day of session. Some of the accomplishments include close to $687 million for water quality and Everglades restoration, $1.86 billion for recovery and relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, a $121 million tax relief package that includes sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping and hurricane preparedness, and creation of a new scholarship program, the Family Empowerment Scholarship, designed to serve our low-income families and reduce the Florida Tax Scholarship waitlist.
“We did all of this within the context of a budget that at ($91.1) billion, and it’s going to be under $91 (billion) when I get through with the budget. Don’t worry about that,” DeSantis said jokingly about potential vetoes he’ll make to the spending plan when the budget passed.
Last week, Florida TaxWatch released its annual Budget Turkey Watch Report for the 2019 legislative session and the government watchdog group reported it had found 109 turkeys totalling $133 million that TaxWatch recommends the governor veto.
Budget Turkeys are frequently local member projects, placed in the final appropriations bill without undergoing the budget typical committee process. The designation does not judge the merit of a budget item, but rather that it didn’t go through the proper review process.
“This year’s budget contains nearly 600 member projects, bringing the three-year total to 1,800 projects worth $1.7 billion,” said Florida TaxWatch Vice President of Research Kurt Wenner.
The budget plan also contains a $242-per-student increase in education funding, as well as $10.2 billion in general-revenue funding for health care and other social service programs.