NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL (STL.News) Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Leads state budget for fiscal year 2021-2022. The budget totaled $101.5 billion and includes $169 million in tax relief. The Governor vetoed $1.5 billion in total spending, including $1.35 billion from federal funds received under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
“While other states advocated for never-ending lockdowns during the pandemic, Florida followed the science and led the nation in ensuring there were opportunities for Florida families to go to school, go to work, and provide for themselves and their families,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I’m proud to sign the Florida Leads budget that continues to exemplify Florida’s continued resolve and unshakeable economic foundation, while establishing Florida’s position as a nationwide leader in education, protecting our environment, creating a resilient economy, and ensuring public safety. We did all this while maintaining strong fiscal reserves and lowering taxes to make sure Florida families benefit this year and for decades to come.”
“In Florida, we have the best policies and the best Governor of any state in the nation, and we are reaffirming Florida’s position as a national leader today,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “In the Florida Leads Budget, our administration is investing in the priorities that matter most to Florida families like education, the environment and the economy. We are also continuing to prioritize public health and mental well-being, and we are fully backing our law enforcement officers and first responders who put their lives on the line for their communities every day.”
Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Florida Leads budget are provided below:
Florida Leads on Fiscal Responsibility and Taxpayer Savings
The Florida Leads budget remains focused on fiscal responsibility and providing tax relief to Floridians. The budget leaves $9.5 billion in reserves, including more than $1.2 billion in revenues collected above the April revenue estimates, maintaining ample resources to respond to hurricanes and other unforeseen circumstances. The budget also implements a tax package which cuts taxes by $169 million and includes the first 7-day freedom week sales tax holiday, a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, and a 10-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday.
Florida Leads on Education
Over the past year, Florida’s students, parents and educators faced significant challenges, but by following the science, schools in Florida were able to open for in-person instruction to ensure continued learning in K-12 schools. Building on that momentum, the Florida Leads budget provides $22.8 billion for K-12 education. This funding represents an increase of $53 in the base student allocation, $120 million for mental health initiatives and an historic $550 million, an increase of $50 million, to continue raising the minimum K-12 teacher salary to the goal of $47,500, as well as salary increases for veteran teachers and other eligible instructional personnel.
Florida Leads on Protecting the Environment
The Florida Leads budget continues Governor DeSantis’ commitment to record investments for Everglades restoration and water resources by dedicating more than $625 million for these causes. This includes more than $415 million for Everglades restoration projects and $302 million for targeted water quality improvements to achieve significant, meaningful and measurable nutrient reductions in key waterbodies across the state. The budget also includes $152 million to protect prized properties and waters in Florida, including $102 million for the Florida Forever Program, and $50 million for Florida’s award winning state parks. In addition, the budget contains federal funding of up to $500 million for the Resilient Florida program to fight sea level rise, up to $500 million for the Wastewater Grant Program and up to $300 million for land acquisition to protect wildlife corridors.
Florida Leads on Transportation and Economic Development
The Florida Leads budget recognizes that Florida’s economic recovery is well underway, and makes key investments in transportation and infrastructure, as well as using resources to ensure continued job growth, work force training, affordable housing and rural economic development. Investments in the Florida Department of Transportation total $10.3 billion, including $9.44 billion for the State Transportation Work Program, which is an ongoing five-year plan for the implementation and completion of transportation infrastructure projects. The budget also includes $74 million for the Job Growth Grant Fund, $75 million for VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing programs, $1.6 billion in Disaster Recovery Funding, and a one-time relief payment of $1,000 for Florida’s First Responders.
Florida Leads on Health and Human Services
The pandemic has affected the health and well-being of Floridians in unimaginable ways. Parents, children, and seniors have struggled, making the need for support and mental health services more acute than ever. The Florida Leads budget includes more than $134 million to provide funding for services to children and families who receive services through Florida’s child welfare system. The budget also includes more than $137.6 million in funding to provide community-based services for adults and children with behavioral health needs, and includes $3 million to support 211 providers to support access to support services.
Florida Leads on Supporting Military, Veterans and Their Families
The budget provides $28 million for Florida’s military presence and families, which funds the State’s support of military research and development. This includes $2 million for the Florida Defense Support Task Force, $1.75 million for the Defense Infrastructure Program, $7.2 million for armory maintenance, $2 million for military base protection, including additional security measures for National Guard armories, $4.1 million to support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher education degrees, and $11 million to support scholarships for children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans. Additionally, the budget includes up to $50 million to construct two new National Guard armories in Zephyrhills and Immokalee.
Florida Leads on Cybersecurity
The budget invests $37.5 million in various state agencies to enhance information technology security measures and controls statewide to help protect Florida against the ongoing and evolving nature of cyber threats that can compromise critical state resources and sensitive information.