- The Florida House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee recommended a budget proposal that would allocate more than $15 billion for infrastructure and tourism.
- The proposal includes funding for transportation, hurricane recovery grants, and VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency.
- The plan also includes local funding initiatives for transportation and infrastructure projects and funding for employment opportunities in the state.
- The increased funding comes as Florida saw record-setting numbers of domestic and international visitors in 2022.
As the Florida Senate prepares to vote on its Fiscal Year 2023-24 state budget proposal, the Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee recommended allocating more than $15 billion for infrastructure and tourism economic purposes. The figure is reached as Florida comes off of a record-setting year in domestic and international visitors.
The largest allocations in the proposal include the Transportation Work Program, which will receive $13.4 billion; the Hurricane Recovery Grant Program with $350 million in funding; and $80 million for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s internal tourism marketing agency.
The provisions also include more than $250 million to be used on local funding initiatives, with the majority of the projects dealing with transportation-related infrastructure.
“We developed a good government budget that provides for the transportation, tourism, and economic development activities of the state,” said subcommittee chairman Sen. Ed Hooper.
The proposal further bolsters employment opportunities within the state, putting aside $75 million for the Florida Job Growth Grant and an additional $20 million for the state’s law enforcement recruitment program.
The increased funding comes as Florida welcomed 97.7 million domestic visitors in 2022, an 11.4 percent increase compared to 2021. A further 5 million international tourists arrived in Florida last year, marking a 94.8 percent year-over-year following terminated COVID-19 travel restrictions.
In 2019, Florida visitors contributed $96.5 billion to Florida’s economy and supported over 1.6 million Florida jobs. According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, $3.27 in state tax revenue is generated.
Moreover, three Florida airports — Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), and Orlando International Airport (MCO) — were selected last year as part of the 85 airports nationwide to receive funding grants as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law earlier this year by President Joe Biden.
The grants will help ease the load on Floridian tourism infrastructure. MCO, one of the nation’s busiest airports, serves as an international gateway to locations like Disney World and St. Augustine.
Fix the Red Tide source problems and catch up on road improvements that are so far behind population growth before tourism!
I would say that now is the perfect time to fund infrastructure projects for the State. State revenues are up. Infrastructure projects chosen wisely improve people’s lives. But more than anything, when revenues are up, you do not want to budget for more salaries or programs. Those expenditures are every year expenditures and hard to cut during a recession or depression. Infrastructure projects can be scaled back and you do not hurt your economy nearly as much. Infrastructure projects don’t grow the “Size of Government”. If you do not grow the size of government then you protect your State from government becoming a drag on the economy.