Governor Ron DeSantis Announces The Freedom First Budget
Governor DeSantis released his Freedom First Budget proposal with recommendations for fiscal year 2022-2023. The Governor’s recommended budget totals $99.7 billion, with total reserves exceeding $15 billion. This budget continues to promote Economic Opportunities, record funding in K-12 Education, Infrastructure and Transportation, Everglades Restoration and Protection of Water Resources, and First Responder and Law Enforcement Bonuses.
The Governor’s budget recommends four tax holidays to allow hard working Floridians to keep more money in their pockets.
- A Fuel Tax Holiday to provide a reprieve from increasing gas prices;
- A 7-day Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday;
- A 10-day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday; and
- A 10-day Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax.
Investments in Rural Communities and the Tourism Industry. This includes:
- $105 million for the Rural Infrastructure Fund to support local rural infrastructure projects such as roads, wastewater systems, and internet access for rural communities.
- $100 million for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support projects that create workforce training opportunities and invest in critical infrastructure.
- $50 million in recurring funding for VISIT FLORIDA, Florida’s tourism marketing agency.
Governor DeSantis is proposing record funding for K-12 Education and prioritizes teachers and students.
- An increase in per-student funding to raise this year’s budget to $8,000 per student. This will represent the highest amount of per-student funding in Florida’s history.
- $421 million for school safety and mental health initiatives. That funding includes $210 million for the safe schools program, $140 million for mental health, $42 million for school hardening grants, and $4 million for safety initiatives at Jewish Day Schools.
- To fully eliminate the Florida Standards Assessment and implement Progress Monitoring in its place, Governor DeSantis is proposing $15.5 million in recurring funding to provide progress monitoring tools to schools.
- To make Florida the number one state for Workforce Education by 2030, $534 million in funding to support workforce education programs is included in the proposed budget.
While other states want to defund the police, the Governor’s recommended budget reflects Florida’s support for members of law enforcement. This includes:
- $226.7 million to provide salary increases for those working in law enforcement.
- A $5,000 signing bonus for every recruit who is new to the law enforcement profession in Florida once they complete their training and they officially become a law enforcement officer.
- Providing the State Officer Certification Exam free of charge to law enforcement officers relocating to Florida and to cover the cost of any necessary equivalent training programs for relocating officers, up to $1,000 per officer.
- Creating a Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program to cover the cost of enrollment for men and women seeking to serve their state and communities.
Florida continues to be committed in supporting those who serve. Our National Guard has been called upon time and time again during times of emergency, and we must ensure they are ready to serve Floridians. Governor DeSantis is proposing more than $100 million in our National Guard, which includes:
- $87.5 million from the federal State Fiscal Recovery Fund to build three new readiness centers in Homestead, Gainesville and Malabar and expand the existing readiness center in Miramar.
- $2.2 million to build a new headquarter for the National Guard Counter Drug Program.
- $5.1 million to fully support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher education degrees.
- The budget also includes $5.4 million to establish the Florida State Guard, a civilian volunteer force, to assist the National Guard in state-specific emergencies.
Florida’s natural resources are the foundation of our state’s communities. The environment drives tourism, affects property values, is the foundation of many local economies and is central to our quality of life. The budget reaffirms Governor DeSantis’ commitment by recommending more than $4.4 billion to protect our environment and natural resources, which includes:
- More than $660 million for Everglades restoration.
- $195 million for targeted water quality improvements.
- $35 million to improve water quality and combat the negative impacts of harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae. This includes $5 million in additional funding dedicated to address red tide cleanup.
- $3 million to remove invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades.
- $550 million to increase the resiliency of Florida’s coastal and inland communities.
- $100 million for the Florida Forever program.
- $51.7 million for infrastructure improvements and natural resource management at our award-winning state parks.
The Governor’s recommended budget continues support for our healthcare workers and access to medical services for Floridians.
- More than $200 million in funding to support direct care workers with pay raises.
- $100 million for cancer research.
- $15 million in funding for Alzheimer’s Disease research.
- $188.6 million in behavioral health initiatives including mental health and substance abuse services.
- $133 million to provide services to those served by the child welfare system, including foster parent support and adoption subsidies.
To read highlights of the Freedom First Budget, click here.
Governor DeSantis Announces Proposals to Address the Ongoing Biden Border Crisis
Governor DeSantis was joined by Congressman John Rutherford, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and Public Safety Czar Larry Keefe to announce new proposals to fight illegal immigration and protect Floridians from the Biden Border Crisis. Governor DeSantis announced proposals for the upcoming legislative session to hold accountable private entities that knowingly or recklessly assist the Biden Administration in resettling illegal immigrants into Florida. The legislation would also strengthen E-verify enforcement and codify and build upon the steps he has taken to protect the state of Florida through Executive Order 21-223. Additionally, Governor DeSantis announced that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) published an emergency rule to prohibit the issuance or renewal of any license to house unaccompanied alien minors who seek to be resettled in Florida unless there is a cooperative agreement between the state and federal government.
For more information, click here.
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces First Ever Statewide Flooding Resilience Plan
Governor DeSantis was joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton, Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks, and other stakeholders to announce another milestone in Florida’s efforts to protect Florida’s coastal and inland communities with the state’s first ever Statewide Flooding Resilience Plan.
The plan consists of a list of projects that will enhance Florida’s efforts to protect inland waterways, coastlines, shores, and coral reefs, which are invaluable natural defenses against sea-level rise and flooding. The plan is part of Senate Bill 1954, signed by Governor DeSantis earlier this year, which ensures a coordinated approach to Florida’s coastal and inland resilience and provides a structure for resilience that follows the best available science and data while enhancing efforts to protect inland and coastal resources that act as natural defenses against sea-level rise.
The three-year Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan proposes 76 projects across the state totaling over $270 million, subject to appropriation. DEP accepted applications through their online portal through September 1, 2021. These applications were carefully evaluated for eligibility by the department under the criteria established in SB 1954.
Brevard County is included for a project titled Crystal Lakes Impoundment Breakwater and Living Shore sponsored by Brevard County Mosquito Control. Indian River County is included for a project titled Sebastian River Improvement District Treatment and Storage sponsored by St. Johns River Water Management District.
The list of projects can be found here.