Florida legislature passes record $93.2 billion budget

by | Mar 19, 2020

Lawmakers gathered in Tallahassee on Thursday to vote on the upcoming state budget, passing a record $93.2 billion budget for the next fiscal year.

Both legislative bodies convened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to fund the state for the upcoming fiscal year. Legislators were screened before entering the floor and voting on the General Appropriations Act (HB 5001), the General Appropriations Act implementation (HB 5003), and a collective bargaining agreement (HB 5005) that will go into effect on July 1.

Florida House unanimously approved the state budget with a 104-0 vote, with 16 members absent as a precaution. The Senate passed the budget with a 32-0 vote, with eight members absent — mostly from South Florida.

The new spending plan exceeds the current budget by more than 2.2 billion.

The proposed budget includes over $600 million in funding to improve water quality and Everglades projects, $500 million toward teacher pay raises — $400 million to boost the minimum teacher salary to $47,500 and $100 million for other pay raises, and $100 million to Florida Forever conservation.

With the uncertainty of how COVID-19 will impact Florida’s economy, the passed budget also decreased tax breaks to help prop up the state’s emergency reserves by $300 million as the virus continues to threaten public health and businesses. The budget also includes over $25 million requested by Governor Ron DeSantis to directly combat the outbreak.

Lawmakers also approved 3 percent raises for state workers and allocated an additional $25 million for mental health assistance at schools — a primary concern for the DeSantis administration.

The budget largely checks off a number of key areas that DeSantis wanted to tackle prior to the beginning of session.

Following the vote, DeSantis praised the efforts of House Speaker Jose Oliva and Senate President Bill Galvano, citing their leadership and cooperation as a catalyst to this year’s successful Legislative Session.

“I just want to thank personally the Senate President and the House Speaker,” DeSantis said in a press conference following Sine Die. “They have worked really well with each other. They were able to manage their chambers I think very effectively.”

If you look at the two years they’ve had, I would put their productivity up against just about anybody in modern Florida history,” he continued.

The 90-day legislative session was scheduled to end last Friday, but it was extended a week to put the finishing touches on a budget for fiscal 2021.

This is a breaking news story. Check back regularly for updates.

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