Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs $117 Billion Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24, Including Tax Relief and Environmental Protections

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has signed the state’s budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, which amounts to $117 billion. The budget includes a $2.7 billion tax relief package, investments in education, and the implementation of environmental protections.[0] Of this amount, $7.3 billion has been allocated to environmental protection, agriculture, and natural resources, including $1.6 billion for Everglades and water quality projects.[1] The Indian River Lagoon, considered one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America, will receive $100 million.[2] The budget also includes sales tax holidays for back-to-school items and permanent exemptions on baby and toddler products such as diapers and strollers.[3]

Governor DeSantis, a Republican presidential contender, has been criticized for vetoing $510.9 million in programs and projects from the budget approved last month by state lawmakers. Several lawmakers who had opted against endorsing DeSantis last month saw multiple projects get eliminated by the governor’s veto pen. According to an analysis conducted by the House Democratic Caucus, approximately 40% of the budget proposals submitted by House Democrats were rejected by DeSantis.[4] In contrast, the governor had eliminated 16% of the 1,301 projects proposed by members of the Republican majority in the House.[4]

Despite the controversy surrounding the budget, Governor DeSantis remains optimistic about Florida’s financial strength. He said, “You’re not going to see us have the type of problems that these other states have with fiscal insolvency, driving people away.[4] Our tax base is expanding, business investments terrific.[5] And of course this budget is in fantastic shape.”[5]

The governor also used the budget signing event to bash the administration of President Joe Biden for the country’s economic woes and blamed the record-high inflation in part on the billions parceled out by Congress for Covid-19 relief programs.[6] However, he did not mention that Florida received billions of extra federal funding during the past three years which DeSantis and Republican legislators have been able to steer to some of their top priorities.[6]

The budget includes various projects that were vetoed by Governor DeSantis, including a $2 million Orlo Vista water resources project in Orange County, a $600,000 Deltona Theresa Basin flood control study, $2.5 million each for the Tampa Water System Morris Bridge Continuity of Operations Center and Morris Bridge Wellfield improvements, and $1.8 million for Osceola County Buenaventura Lakes drainage improvements. The governor also vetoed several local projects such as the Oviedo West Mitchell Hammock Water Treatment Facility – Tank Construction, Meet Us in the Middle Plaza and 8th Street Docks – City of Clermont, WUCF-TV’s emergency backup transmitter, Winter Park stormwater disaster resiliency project, and Mount Dora Community Resource & Recreation Center.

In conclusion, Governor DeSantis has signed a $117 billion budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, which includes tax relief, investments in education and environmental protection. However, the budget signing event was marred by controversy as the governor vetoed half a billion dollars in programs and projects. Despite this, Governor DeSantis remains optimistic about Florida’s financial strength and its ability to avoid fiscal insolvency.

0. “Florida Democrats demand transparency: urge for release of vetoed line items in state budget” The Capitolist, 15 Jun. 2023, https://thecapitolist.com/florida-democrats-demand-transparency-urge-for-release-of-vetoed-line-items-in-state-budget

1. “Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Framework for Freedom Budget” Governor Ron DeSantis, 15 Jun. 2023, https://www.flgov.com/2023/06/15/governor-ron-desantis-signs-framework-for-freedom-budget/

2. “Gov. DeSantis announces major investment in environment, water quality” TCPalm, 15 Jun. 2023, https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2023/06/15/gov-desantis-announces-major-investment-in-environment-water-quality/70325399007/

3. “DeSantis signs $116B Framework for Freedom Budget in Florida” News 13 Orlando, 15 Jun. 2023, https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2023/06/15/desantis-signs–114-8-billion-framework-for-freedom-budget

4. “DeSantis signs Florida budget, vetoes projects with eye on presidency” Tallahassee Democrat, 15 Jun. 2023, https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/politics/2023/06/15/desantis-signs-florida-budget-details-hazy-amid-presidential-politics/70295572007

5. “DeSantis Axes $510 Million from Record State Budget” tallahasseereports.com, 16 Jun. 2023, https://tallahasseereports.com/2023/06/15/desantis-axes-510-million-from-record-state-budget/

6. “DeSantis’ budget vetoes include projects from GOP lawmakers who didn’t endorse him” POLITICO, 16 Jun. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/15/desantis-torched-fellow-republicans-over-vetoes-00102317

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