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DeSantis signs $116.5 billion budget in Tampa

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DeSantis signs $116.5 billion budget in Tampa

Jun 12, 2024 | 4:07 pm ET
By Mitch Perry
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DeSantis signs $116.5 billion budget in Tampa
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Gov. Ron DeSantis signs 2024-2025 FY budget in Tampa on June 12, 2024. (Photo by Mitch Perry/Florida Phoenix)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Tampa on Wednesday to sign a $116.5 billion state budget (HB 5001) for fiscal year 2024- 25, boasting about providing “historic support” for education, transportation, conservation, and the environment, plus tax relief, while also taking credit for spending slightly fewer state funds than a year before.

“Aren’t you happy to see that?” he said to applause from the invited crowd at the Vault in downtown Tampa.

DeSantis said that he had told House Speaker Paul Renner that “I want to hold the line,” and said that he had close to $1 billion in line-item vetoes. “Some of the stuff wasn’t appropriate for state tax dollars,” he said,

The fiscal year opens in July 1. For a review of the budget highlights, click here.

Joined by Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton, Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., and Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, DeSantis spent approximately an hour reciting the amounts his administration was allocating for various departments.

On education, the budget includes $28.4 billion in K-12 school spending, an increase of $1.8 billion from a year ago. That includes $1.25 billion directly for teacher salaries, a $200 million increase from a year ago. DeSantis then spent several minutes blasting the teacher unions regarding that funding.

“It’s not enough to say, ‘Oh, we’re giving money to education, because what happens is, the districts and unfortunately these unions can haggle over this, and they basically try to benefit themselves. So, you can increase funding for education, and unless you mandate that some of that goes to teachers, some of it doesn’t even go to teachers. Sometimes they never do anything for teachers, so this has to go. That’s the only thing they can do.”

In a press release, Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said that this “$200 million equates to a salary increase in every classroom teacher’s paycheck of about $125 a month, and nowhere near the $15,000 annual increase needed to match the national average for teacher salaries. The only thing the budget guarantees is that Florida’s teachers will remain near the bottom in average pay.”

DeSantis mentioned legislation he signed in 2023 that prevents union dues from being deducted from teachers’ paychecks.

“You don’t have to write a check to a school union if they’re not serving your interest, and I would note that there were school unions in this state when last year’s categorical came out of a billion dollars, that money was there. Teachers were going to get more money,” he said.

“They were withholding that in negotiations to try to use that for leverage for other parts of their agenda. I tell ya, if you’re looking out for the best interests of the teachers, you would have gotten that money in their pocket by July 1, as soon as it became available. That’s not what some of them chose to do.”

The governor also boasted that there are no tuition increases for Florida universities, nor has there ever been since he’s been in office.

The budget has $173.5 million for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Water

There was $1.7 billion allocated towards water quality and $740 million for Everglades restoration.

“Gov. DeSantis has continued to fulfill the promises that he made to Floridians by advocating for and securing a budget that contains over $740 million for Everglades restoration, as well as funding for resiliency and statewide environmental efforts,” said Everglades Trust CEO Anna Upton in a press release.

“It’s been clear from the beginning that he understands the importance of the Everglades — to our economy and environment — and has continually sought to push restoration forward,” Upton said.

The budget also allocates $456.5 million to support the health and development of pregnant women, new moms, and children. There is $442 million to support behavioral health sciences.

Regarding the Corrections Department, which has major funding problems, the governor’s budget includes more than $102 million for infrastructure needs: $42.3 million for general maintenance and repair at facilities across the state; $3 million to address environmental needs; $56.4 million for new and secure open bay dorms, and $750,000 for repairs related to ADA compliance.

Late in the afternoon, the governor’s office released its list of vetoes, which you can see here.

Among those vetoes was $32 million for Florida’s Cultural and Museum Grants and Cultural Facilities Grants. Orlando area Democratic House Rep. Anna Eskamani responded in a statement about that specific veto.

“These funds were set to support well-vetted nonprofit organizations that play a crucial role in enriching our community and preserving our cultural heritage,” she said.

“Investing in arts and culture is a powerful economic generator. The arts sector creates jobs, stimulates tourism, and enhances the quality of life for all Floridians. Cutting this funding undermines the economic vitality of our state and disregards the significant contributions of our cultural institutions. We must recognize and support the invaluable impact of arts and culture on our economy and our society. I urge the Legislature to fully fund these programs next session and ask that community members step up to fill these funding gaps created by Gov. DeSantis.”

The Florida Democratic Party also released a statement after the veto list was published.

“Once again, Ron has passed a near-record budget that doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of Floridians,” said FDP Chair Nikki Fried. “Among other things, this year’s veto list includes millions of dollars in canceled stormwater projects, school safety improvements, and local infrastructure fixes — things that actually improve our day-to-day lives.

Fried continued: “Adding insult to injury, Ron waited until late in the day to release the details of his vetoes in a blatant attempt to keep the press from reporting on them today. As always, Florida Democrats will work to hold him accountable for the harm he does to local communities in the name of a false fiscal conservatism.”

This story has been updated to reflect release of the governor’s veto list.