Featured Stories

Gov. DeSantis Considers Cuts to State Budget, as Revenues Drop

The state’s proposed $93.2 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts on July 1, arrived on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the governor warned that he plans to use his line-item veto power in order to make cuts to the budget, due to a loss in tax revenues amid the pandemic.

He explained that such cuts could help keep lawmakers from having to revisit the budget before the election.

“There’s going to be a lot more vetoes, there’ll be a lot of red,” DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday.

Lawmakers passed the plan on March 19 for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The budget (HB 5001) includes $690 million for Everglades restoration and water projects, as well as $500 million for teacher-pay increases, both of which are priorities to DeSantis.

Another $100 million would go to the Florida Forever land-conservation program, while $50 million would be reserved for the Visit Florida tourism-marketing agency and three-percent across-the-board pay raises for state employees.

The largest portion of the budget, $39.36 billion, would go toward health and human services programs.

Additionally, the budget would boost Medicaid payment rates for nursing homes, and provide additional money to the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

It also includes $10 million for the Agency for Health Care Administration to hire a contractor who can assist with a Canadian prescription-drug importation program.

At the end of the legislative session, Republican leaders put $300 million in reserves to brace against any economic slowdown from the coronavirus.

DeSantis plans to move millions of unspent dollars in an economic development program called the Job Growth Grant Fund from the current year to the upcoming year’s general revenue.

A May report from the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research said the state’s revenue collections in April were more than $878 million below estimates, largely due to the decline in tourism. Figures for May have not yet been released.