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Florida Lawmakers Begin Budget Process

Dan Florida, Legislative

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When it comes to the 2021 Florida Legislative session, the budget process has begun. According to University of Florida/IFAS Director of Governmental Affairs, Mary Ann Hooks, both the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees released the first version of their budget proposals this week.

She notes fortunately, UF/IFAS did not receive any reductions to existing programs in the Senate subcommittee budget proposal. Plus, they included funding for UF/IFAS workload within the higher education budget and funding for fertilizer rate research in the agriculture budget.

But, as for the House subcommittee budget proposal, there is an 11% reduction to higher education, which is a $570 million budget. This includes a 10% reduction to IFAS, which reduces their budget by $15 million.

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In her weekly report, Hooks noted they were not surprised to see significant budget cuts due to the December revenue projections predicting a $2.7 billion deficit.

There is still hope due to the fact Florida could receive up to $10 billion in one-time federal stimulus money, but it may take up to a year to receive the full amount. The state is still waiting for more guidance from the federal government on how the funds can be used.

Hooks said they will spend the next few weeks working with legislators to improve the UF/IFAS position in the House budget proposal and maintain the Senate position. The subcommittee proposals will be combined into a House bill and a Senate bill and they could be heard in their respective committees as early as next week.