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Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis released his budget recommendations totaling $96.6 billion for fiscal year 2021-2022.  This is a $4.3 billion increase from last year, with $2.6 billion of the increase being allocated for various COVID-19 pandemic response expenditures and economic impacts.  The budget proposes cutting taxes by $65 million and includes the popular back-to-school sales tax holiday for eight days and a 10-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday.  Referring to the budget proposal as “Florida Leads,” Governor DeSantis and his executive agencies will begin the process in the coming weeks of presenting the budget to the Florida House and Senate for their consideration.  While the Governor makes budget recommendations to the Legislature, it is the Legislature that ultimately determines the state budget for the year.  The budget, which must be balanced, is the only bill the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass each year.  The Legislature will make their final decisions during the Session that begins Tuesday, March 2nd.

Key Takeaways

  • Proposing a $96.6 billion budget, a $4.3 billion increase from last year
    • The General Revenue portion is $35.8 billion
    • Florida’s total reserves are $6.6 billion
  • 748,000 jobs were added between May and December of 2020 despite COVID-19
  • $2.6 billion of the increase is allocated for various COVID-19 pandemic response expenditures and economic impacts
  • The Governor’s proposed budget includes reductions amounting  to over $1 billion, of which $876 million is in General Revenue and $228.3 million is in trust funds, and a reduction of 169 positions
  • The budged proposes cutting taxes by $65 million including:
    • An 8-day back-to-school sales tax holiday
    • A 10-day disaster preparedness sales tax holiday

Breakdown of the Governor’s Budget Recommendations

Education

  • $50 million in funding to continue raising the minimum K-12 teacher salary to $47,500
  • $10 million increase for mental health initiatives
  • $1.4 billion in funding for early child education
  • $22.8 billion in total funding for K-12 public schools with $12.9 in state funding
    • Increases per-student funding by $233 for a total of $8,019
  • $1.2 billion in state operating funding for The Florida College System
  • $2.7 billion in state operating funding for the State University System
  • The budget includes more than $318.5 million in education capital outlay funding for school safety grants, maintenance, and construction

Environment

  • 4.3 billion in proposed funding for the environment, agriculture and natural resources
    • Including $2.2 billion in funding specifically for the Department of environmental Protection
  • Establishes the Resilient Florida Program providing $1 billion over four years to provide grants to state and local government entities for impacts due to sea level rise, intensified storms and localized flooding.
    • $50 million in beach nourishment funding for shoreline erosion
    • $10 million for the Resilient Coastlines Program to prepare for changes from seal level rise and protection of Florida’s coral reefs
  • $625 million for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources
  • $145 million for target water quality improvements including wastewater improvement initiatives and septic conversions and upgrades
  • $50 million to restore Florida springs
  • $25 million investment to improve water quality to combat the effects and impacts of harmful algal blooms.
  • $1.7 billion in funding for Florida’s agricultural industry
  • $3.3 million for wildfire suppression equipment

Economic Development

  • Provides $423.3 million to fully fund workforce and affordable housing programs
    • Including $126.7 million for the state Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) Program and $296.6 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP)
  • $1.9 billion in federal and state funding for federally declared disasters and/or emergencies and to mitigate against future disasters or emergencies
  • $383 million to continue Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Rural Recovery and Development
    • $5 million for the Rural Infrastructure Fund to support infrastructure projects such as broadband, roads, storm and wastewater systems, and telecommunications facilities
    • $1.17 million for the Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Program
    • $3.2 million to fund a new program studying broadband accessibility and provide grants to Florida rural communities to assist them with expanding broadband capability and availability
  • Infrastructure
    • $10.4 billion for the Florida Department of Transportation, providing for the retention or creation of over 148,500 jobs
    • $9.47 billion for the State Transportation Work Program for the implementation and completion of transportation infrastructure projects.

Health and Human Services

  • A recommended $9 million in funding to support the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity
  • More than $2.8 million in funding is provided to support additional APRNs for medication administration
  • $32.9 million to provide funding for services to children and families who receive services through Florida’s child welfare system
  • $11.9 million for maintenance adoption subsides to support post-adoption services for children who are adopted from foster care.
  • $178 million in total funding to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida
  • $53.9 million in funding to provide community based behavioral health services for adults with severe and persistent mental illness and children with emotional disturbances.
  • Over $26 million in funding to support veteran programs
  • $36.6 million in funding for a new level of reimbursement for Intermediate Care Facilities to serve individuals with intellectual disabilities

Public Safety

  • $14.5 million for FDLE databases
  • $31.1 million and 330 FTE to improve staffing levels at the Department of Corrections
  • $2.5 million to make Florida’s correctional facilities safer
  • $4.5 million to increase inmate reentry programming
  • $19 million to make repairs and renovations to correctional and juvenile facilities
  • $24.4 million for Florida’s military presence and families, which funds the State’s support of military research and development

For more information on the proposed 2021-2022 state budget, visit:

If you have any questions, please contact Ron Brise, Chair of Gunster’s Governmental Affairs and Lobbying practice.

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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.


About Gunster

Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 11 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With over 200 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 500 largest law firms and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Diverse Law Firms by Law360. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at www.gunster.com.

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