'The Big Enchilada': DeSantis Signs $116.5 Billion State Budget

'The Big Enchilada': DeSantis Signs $116.5 Billion State Budget

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
June 13, 2024

TAMPA, FL—In its final form, Governor Ron DeSantis approved this year's $116.5 billion budget while vetoing around $1 billion in projects, touting a staggering $17 billion surplus.

"This is a budget that shows it can be done," DeSantis said at the Tampa press conference, applauding his "great" budget as a "mark of good leadership".

"We are number one for the economy, number one for education, number one for the lowest per capita state debt," he continued, revealing that since he took office, Florida has paid off 36 percent of the state's outstanding tax-supported debt, meaning, "We are accelerating the repayment of Florida's debt."

As of June 2023, Florida's outstanding debt was $16.3 billion—an $800 million decrease from the prior fiscal year. To continue this trend, DeSantis argued, Florida must "hold the line" and be fiscally responsible—especially considering the Sunshine State's inflation rate is 14% higher than the national average.

"[We are] actually spending less than we did last year," DeSantis said, explaining why he cut out around $1 billion through line-item vetoes and made the final budget $2.1 billion less than last year's. The list of vetoed budget items has yet to be released.

He moved into an overview of approved projects, divulging that this year's budget, which goes into effect July 1st, is the "most we've ever spent for transportation and infrastructure," and provides massive amounts toward education and environmental conservation.

It features $28.4 billion toward K-12 schools, including the $1.25 billion promised earlier this week for teacher salaries. As for higher education, he lauded a whopping investment of $5.8 billion with no tuition hikes. This includes a $100 million item for faculty retention and recruiting.

$765 million will go toward workforce education—such as trade schools—$500 million of which will be sent to high school workforce education programs.

In healthcare, $232 million was approved for cancer research, $70 million for Alzheimer's defense, and $115 million for seniors in community care programs, while—in conjunction with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo's "Live Healthy" initiative—a total of $377 million will go toward Floridians with unique abilities and a record $2.2 billion to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Other announced items include $15.5 billion for transportation and infrastructure projects, $31 million to expand opioid recovery programs, $1.5 billion to protect the Everglades and water management systems, and $3 million to remove invasive Burmese pythons.

The budget isn't the final item for the Governor to sign: he still has over 30 bills pending his signature and 37 more that have yet to reach his desk. But this budget, he says, "Was the big enchilada that was left."

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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