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Yesterday, Gov. DeSantis Signed Florida’s Record $117 Billion Spending Plan – Some Highlights

FL Channel screen shot of state capitol

FLORIDA – (abridged from CNN) – On Thursday Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s $117 billion spending plan.

There’s $12 million to continue the flights carrying migrants from border states to blue jurisdictions. $25 million was set aside to remake New College, a small liberal arts college on Florida’s west coast, into a new model for a conservative public university. The budget also factors in tax breaks on baby care products like diapers and a multi-billion dollar expansion of school choice.

Over the past two years, Mr. DeSantis has spared little expense while molding Florida to his liking. The budget is the largest in state history. When Gov. DeSantis was elected in 2018, operating the governor’s office cost taxpayers less than $50 million a year – a figure that has nearly octupled under Gov. DeSantis.

At Thursday’s budget signing, Gov. DeSantis said, “In the state of Florida, we are able to do things that make a difference in people’s lives by not wasting money, but by spending it on things that really have a great impact on the general public.”

Record tourism and a growing economy have created a windfall of sales tax revenue for Mr. DeSantis and Florida lawmakers. So too has a significant injection of cash from Washington, which has sent trillions of dollars to states to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic and invest in their infrastructure.

Gov. DeSantis has relied on the federal government to pay for many of his priorities – first from the $2.2 trillion Covid-19 stimulus signed by then-President Donald Trump in 2020 and later from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan championed by President Biden.

While Gov. DeSantis has often blamed President Biden’s stimulus for causing the country’s prolonged struggles with inflation, he has liberally spent the billions injected into Florida.

Gov. DeSantis spent much of last year handing out novelty checks across the state for local projects paid for with the American Rescue Plan. The federal government also picked up the bill for a statewide gas tax holiday DeSantis put in place last October right before his reelection.

“One out of every three dollars Ron DeSantis spends is from the federal government,” state House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat, told CNN.

As governor, Mr. DeSantis has made targeted tax cuts and he has filled reserves to protect state coffers in the event Florida’s economic good times come to an end.

With Thursday’s signing, the Governor has more than $100 million to grow the state guard – a World War II-era force that he resurrected last year – into a well-equipped 1,500-person force.

There is now $30 million for the University of Florida, the state’s flagship university, to create the Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education. There’s millions set aside to pay for anticipated legal costs for defending the governor’s contentious agenda. And there’s now a sales tax break on gas stoves – responding to conservative backlash over concerns about the environmental and health effects of the household appliance.

Gov. DeSantis at times has clashed with his Republican predecessor, US Senator Rick Scott, who has called for governors to return money from Pres. Biden’s rescue package.

In 2021, Scott accused states of treating the federal relief package as a “slush fund.” More recently, Scott sent a letter to America’s governors and mayors urging them to give back any unused Covid relief money to help the federal government pay down its $31 trillion debt.

“Every dollar in these packages has been borrowed and will be owed by your constituents,” Senator Scott wrote.

Gov. DeSantis has said Sen. Scott’s idea “doesn’t make any sense,” arguing the money would be given to other states to spend.

“The state’s going in a great direction,” the Governor said Thursday. “You’re not going to see us have the type of problems that these other states have with fiscal insolvency, driving people away. Our tax base is expanding, business investments terrific. And of course this budget is in fantastic shape.”

Abridged from CNN report. Read the CNN Report here.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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