Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis proposed a $96.6 billion budget today, which includes a $4.3 billion increase, much of which is related to COVID-19 expenditures.
Florida operates under a balanced budget mandate and state economists project a $2.7 billion shortfall for this fiscal year. Its economy was hit hard when Florida’s tourism industry essentially shut down for several months.
The governor said due to the remaining uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget recommends over $1 billion in savings, including over $400 million in administrative and operational efficiencies.
The budget places $6.6 billion in total reserves, which is more than six percent of the total budget, leaving ample resources for unforeseen expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic and 2021 hurricane season.
The Governor’s recommended budget also includes $65 million in tax relief for Florida families, including a $56 million eight-day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday and a $9 million 10-day Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday.
Key areas of spending include education, the environment, job growth, Health and Human Services, public safety, transportation and infrastructure, the military and cybersecurity.
DeSantis said his budget does not include any tax increases and does not increase tuition at Florida’s colleges and universities, despite indications from the state Senate and House that tuition increases would be considered.
The Legislature will consider the governor’s suggestions as it goes through the budget process but ultimate budget approval lies with the Legislature. However, the governor does have veto authority.
DeSantis said, “While the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the strength of our state and our nation, Florida is resilient and will continue to lead. The cornerstone of my mission has been to protect our most vulnerable residents and put Florida’s Seniors First, while ensuring that every Floridian can go to school, go to work, and provide for themselves and their families.
“Because of this approach, Florida has been an exception to many of the economic struggles we are seeing in other states. The Florida Leads Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Budget exemplifies our continued resolve and unshakable economic foundation. The budget builds on key investments in education, the environment, health and human services, public safety and more, while safeguarding taxpayer dollars and maintaining strong fiscal reserves.
“Our state has been tested many times before and has always passed with flying colors. Although our fight against COVID-19 has altered our economic landscape, Florida is on the road to recovery and will continue to lead.”