Florida is flourishing despite the economic challenges connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to thrive according to Gov. Ron DeSantis who unveiled his budget for fiscal 2021-2022 late last month.
Presented on Jan. 28, DeSantis’ “Florida Leads” budget totals $96.6 billion, with the General Revenue portion listed at $35.8 billion and Florida’s total reserves at $6.6 billion, more than 6 percent to the recommended total.
The proposed fiscal plan is $4.3 billion higher than the current fiscal year budget, with $2.6 billion accounting for COVID-19 related spending.
Even so, the proposed spending plan builds on State’s current economic health, DeSantis said.
“The Florida Leads Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Budget exemplifies our continued resolve and unshakable economic foundation,” he said “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.”
Here are some highlights –
The budget includes $22.8 billion in total funding and $12.9 billion in state funding for K-12 public schools, bringing K-12 per-student funding to $8,019.
It also includes $550 million, to boost minimum K-12 teacher salary to $47,500.
The plan allocates more than $625 million to environmental issues including more than $473 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million for Springs restoration, $145 million for targeted water quality improvements, $40 million for alternative water supply and $25 million to combat harmful algal blooms and red tide.
Also, under the Resilient Florida program the budget sets aside $1 billion over four years for grants to help state and local governments address issues connected to intensified storm events and localized flooding.
Economic Development –
The proposed plan includes $50 million for the Job Growth Grant Fund to support local infrastructure and job training projects. The funding includes $5 million for Enterprise Florida, Inc. to develop and execute targeted campaigns that market business opportunities in Florida.
Public Safety –
The budget includes $14.5 million to enhance Florida’s crime databases, including $11.4 million to continue the transition to incident-based crime reporting; and $3.1 million to centralize criminal justice data and make it more transparent to the public.
Transportation and Infrastructure –
The plan provides $9.47 billion for the State Transportation Work Program including funding to increase infrastructure capacity, new highway construction, bridge repairs, and seaport, aviation and transit program improvements.
DeSantis’ staff presented the proposed budget plan to the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its subcommittees on Feb. 3.