DeSantis Signs $101.5B Budget; Vetoes Include $1B Emergency Fund
The governor said the federal money had strings attached that made it unusable for the proposed emergency fund.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed a $101.5 billion budget after vetoing $1.5 billion, including $1 billion in federal money for an emergency response fund.
DeSantis said the federal money could not be used for future needs and could only be approved through “normal procurement,” which made it unfeasible.
“They [the federal government] said you can't use it for the purpose we wanted to use it for — to create a fund to meet the needs in the future. And so, because of that, if we were to go forward with it we would run the risk of having the feds come after us for it. We also functionally wouldn’t have been able to use it effectively," he said.
This year’s budget is shored up by nearly $7 billion in federal aid. The spending plan contains the touted bonuses for teachers, principals and first responders.
DeSantis said the budget is partly a reflection of Florida's pandemic priorities. He boasted that fully opening Florida to business during the pandemic helped the economy rebound faster and stronger than expected.
Even with the vetoes, the budget is more than $9 billion above the current budget. DeSantis said state revenue is far exceeding expectations.
Health-related measures included in the budget:
- $9 million to support the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity to develop strategies aimed at advancing health equity and reducing disparities among the minority population in Florida.
- An additional $212 million for community-based mental health funding.
- An additional $239.7 million for extending post-partum coverage from 60 days to 12 months.
- $137.6 million to provide community based services for people with behavioral health needs.
- An additional $14 million for services to individuals and caregivers impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
- An additional $95.6 million to allow approximately 1,900 individuals on the wait list to be served through the Agency for Persons with Disabilities wavier program.
- $18.3 million for intermediate care facilities to serve individuals with severe maladaptive behavioral needs.
- $208.4 million for a one-time relief payment of $1,000 to Florida’s first responders.
Health-related vetoes include:
- $150,000 in mental health services for survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.
- $550,000 for John Hopkins All Children's Hospital Academic Orthodontic Care for Complex Pediatric Patients in the Tampa Bay area.
- $200,000 for a nutrition education program in Miami-Dade.
- Nearly $52,000 for Miami-Dade’s mosquito control efforts.
Also on Wednesday, DeSantis signed measure (HB 5011) that will terminate an endowment fund named after former Gov. Lawton Chiles. The fund was created in 1999 and included proceeds from a landmark legal settlement between the state and tobacco companies.
The fund was aimed at providing perpetual support for health care programs and biomedical research. But lawmakers decided this year to fold the endowment money into the state’s budget stabilization fund, which is a reserve.
Information from the Associated Press, News Service of Florida and Lynn Hatter of WFSU was used in this report.