Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the Florida Legislature to approve $99.7 billion in recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2022-2023. The plan also provides more than $15 billion in total reserves.
Dubbed the “Freedom Budget”, DeSantis’ proposals include record funding for education, environmental resources, and law enforcement.
“This budget puts Floridians and their freedoms first, keeps taxes low and addresses key priorities – all while maintaining record budget reserves,” DeSantis said while presenting the budget plan to lawmakers in Tallahassee on Dec. 9.
For Education the plan includes:
– A second round of $1,000 bonus checks for Florida’s approximately 179,000 teachers and principals;
– $600 million for teacher pay; an increase in per-student-funding to $8,000 per student;
– a $124 per student base student allocation;
– $15.5 million in recurring funding to fully eliminate the Florida Standards Assessment program and to provide progress monitoring tools to schools;
– $534 million to support workforce education programs.
The plan also includes:
– $226.7 million to increase salaries for public safety workers including a 25 percent pay hike for veteran sworn law enforcement personnel and 20 percent increase for entry level sworn law enforcement personnel and $5,000 sign-on bonuses for new recruits;
– $87.5 for the construction of three new National Guard readiness centers;
– $5.1 million to support National Guard members who seek higher education;
– $5.4 million to establish the Florida State Guard.
Also, budget recommendations include $8 million to implement a program to relocate illegal immigrants away from Florida, and $2.4 million for the enforcement of E-Verify, the web-based system that allows employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S.
DeSantis also proposes:
– More than $600 million for Everglades restoration;
– $195 million for target water quality improvements;
– $35 million to boost water quality and combat harmful algal blooms including blue-green algae including $5.5 million in additional funding for red tide clean-up.
Finally, the proposed budget includes:
– More than $200 million to increase wages for direct care health care workers;
– $100 million to support cancer research;
– $15 million for Alzheimer’s disease research;
– $188.6 million for mental health and substance abuse initiatives;
– $133 million to provide child welfare services including support for foster parents and adoption subsidies.
Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) said the budget recommendations reflect many of the priorities that DeSantis and lawmakers share. “Our state is in great shape. We are living within our means and making significant investments in key infrastructure priorities that will create jobs and further bolster Florida’s economy as more and more people flee high tax, lockdown states in search of a better life in the free state of Florida. I look forward to receiving a full briefing from our staff in the coming days.”
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia ( R-Spring Hill) was not available for comment.
Florida’s regular legislative session begins on Jan. 11.