Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed the long-anticipated $109.9 billion “Freedom First” budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 at the Republican voter stronghold, The Villages.
Gov. DeSantis, who was flanked by Senate President Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, newly-minted Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr., and State Senator Kelli Stargel, highlighted several of the pro-Florida carve-outs in the budget and praised Republican leadership for sending him a budget that he is proud to sign his name to.
This was DeSantis’s budget, and it will help fund affordable housing, improve infrastructure, tackle the “Fatherless epidemic,” fund police, and fund wounded veterans.
“Florida has preserved freedom and kept the economy open, which has enabled the state to outperform the nation in jobs, growth, and business formations,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Our commitment to freedom has paid off. Our responsible fiscal policies have put the state in a strong position to make the record investments needed to support growth and opportunity in spite of the reckless fiscal and monetary policies of the Biden administration.”
It was easy for Republicans to vote in favor of DeSantis’s “Freedom First” budget, but Conservative Rep. Anthony Sabatini’s sole Republican vote against DeSantis’s "Freedom First" budget will be used against him as he continues his run for the U.S. Congress.
Rep. Sabatini first voted against DeSantis’s state budget with Progressive Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani and then doubled down on his opposition to the measure when the final vote was taken to end the legislative session.
“This is a good budget,” House Appropriations Chairman Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, said before the House voted 105-3 to approve the budget (HB 5001). “It’s a great budget for Florida and its long-term success. This budget has record funding for many important programs and creates record reserves to position our state to weather future storms.”
Sabatini’s Republican congressional opponent, combat veteran Cory Mills, was quick to call out Sabatini’s vote alongside Rep. Eskamani, calling the conservative firebrand a “RINO” for siding with Progressive Eskamani against DeSantis’s budget.
“The same legislator calling out “RINOs” just voted against Republican colleagues and voted with AOC backed Eskamani,” stated Mills.
Mills then went further and pushed out a district-wide political mailer labeling Sabatini as a “RINO” who voted against funding for wounded veterans, military children, and increase pay for National Guardsmen.
Moments after DeSantis signed the budget into law, Mills asserted that Sabatini was a “Freedom Last politician” who opposed funding veterans
“Floridians should understand that Sabatini is not “Freedom First” candidate that supports Gov. Ron DeSantis, our wounded veterans, or the scores of blue collar workers across Florida who will directly or indirectly benefit from the governor’s budget. He is a Freedom Last politician who failed to deliver for Floridians,” stated Mills.
Sabatini responded to the budget signing by thanking the Governor for vetoing $3.1 billion from the budget he says was “STUFFED with corrupt special interest garbage & pork barrel spending,” asserting that that was the reason why he voted against the Governor’s budget.
THANK YOU @GovRonDeSantis for vetoing $3.1 billion from Florida’s state budget today (a new state record)
The budget was STUFFED with corrupt special interest garbage & pork barrel spending pushed by grifting corrupt big-spending Legislators—which is why I voted AGAINST it!
— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) June 2, 2022
But Sabatini’s statement contradicts the statement he made when he first voted against the budget.
Sabatini first stated that the reason for voting against the bill that funded farmers, veterans, and the environment, was because he opposed the budget funding “Marxist universities & colleges in Florida.”
“Just voted HELL NO on the Florida House budget. Why? Because it gives RECORD FUNDING to the Marxist universities & colleges in Florida. No more arming leftists. DEFUND the Woke indoctrination centers & use the money to fund vocational education & middle class tax cuts 🇺🇸,” stated Sabatini.
Businessman Scott Sturgill, who is also vying for the Republican congressional nomination in Florida’s 7th District, supports DeSantis’s budget and mentioned how difficult it was for anyone in a position of power or influence to veto “laudable projects.”
“I’m a fiscal conservative, and though there are many important and laudable projects that were vetoed, it is important to have cash in reserves given the uncertainty in the global economy, the war in Ukraine, and the inflation at home,” said Sturgill. “Vetoes are tough but I’m a businessman and you have to make hard decisions. It looks like that is what Governor DeSantis did.”
Rusty Roberts, who is also running for Congress in FL CD 7, praised DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature for putting "people first" and being "fiscally responsible."
"Florida continues to be fiscally responsible with a budget that protects Veterans healthcare, puts people first and promises secure elections. Floridians should be proud of the work by Governor DeSantis and the Republicans in the Legislature that passed this budget," stated Roberts in a statement to The Floridian.
“We delivered for the people of Florida,” said DeSantis as he concluded his budget signing press conference.