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Florida Senators Question Governor’s Budget

Dan Economy, Florida, Legislative

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We told you last week that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had proposed a record 96.6-billion-dollar state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Lawmakers this week started reviewing the proposal and after members of the Senate Appropriations Committee heard a presentation on his proposal, Senate budget chief Kelli Stargel signaled the Senate will take a more conservative approach when it draws up a spending plan.

According to the News Service of Florida Chris Spencer, director of the governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, faced a series of questions from the committee. It was the first in a series of briefings this week for House and Senate members, who will negotiate a final budget during the legislative session that starts March 2.

DeSantis’ spending plan would be about $4.3 billion larger than the current year’s budget, in part because of a flood of federal money the state has received to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal includes a $285 million increase in funding for public schools, $625 million for Everglades restoration and other water-related issues and money to start a multi-year “Resilient Florida” program to address the effects of sea-level rise and flooding.

But after weeks of legislative leaders warning about the need to make budget cuts because of economic damage from the pandemic, some senators appeared skeptical of the Governor’s proposal.

The annual legislative session starts March 2nd.