Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that the Sunshine State is financially prepared to withstand the blow of the coronavirus.
“We already see that this is going to cause economic dislocations,” he said after Thursday’s budget vote.
Nonetheless, Florida lawmakers have already earmarked about $300 million to offset the financial setbacks.
“We entered this session with unemployment going down, down, down to 2.8%, and now we’re going to be exiting this on the back end of this COVID(-19) looking at a different economic picture,” according to DeSantis. “I think it’s one we can recover from, don’t get me wrong, but that is going to be an issue that we’ll have to address in future sessions.”
The approved $93 billion budget includes more funding for water quality and Everglades projects, as well as a three-percent pay increase for state employees. It should move Florida into one of the top five states for teacher salaries in the nation, by way of $500 million to boost minimum pay for new teachers.
The budget also provides $25 million requested by the governor for direct costs to contain the virus.
In terms of how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact Florida’s tourism and workforce, the governor explains, “There’s going to be Florida businesses that are going to take it on the chin, because we’re so sensitive to things like tourism, but once this passes, and it will pass, I think we’ll be able to pick back up and start going.”
There are 432 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida as of Thursday evening, with 29 in Palm Beach County, 96 in Broward, and 101 cases in Miami-Dade. Health officials updated the state’s death toll to nine individuals after a patient died in Duval County. They have not yet issued any mandatory quarantine or isolation orders in the state.