Thursday, June 13, 2019

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will potentially sign a state budget, issue vetoes next week

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEY ROULETTE
  • photo by Joey Roulette
Gov. Ron DeSantis hopes to sign a state budget and issue vetoes next week, with the spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year expected to arrive on his desk Friday.

Appearing Tuesday at a bill-signing event in The Villages, DeSantis said he and his staff have completed a “first glance” at the line items in the $91.1 billion, 448-page document for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The governor has line-item veto power.

“Some of them (budget items) obviously just don’t pass muster with me, so they’re not going to make it,” DeSantis said. “There’s others that definitely pass muster, so they will.”

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, intends to formally send the budget (SB 2500) to DeSantis on Friday morning, Katie Betta, Galvano’s spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday.



Once the budget lands on his desk, DeSantis will have 15 days to act.

DeSantis said he’s still reaching out to lawmakers to get their justification for projects that made it into the budget.

“We’re in the middle of that process,” DeSantis said. “I hope that we’ll have everything signed sometime next week.”

When the budget was approved by the Legislature on May 4, DeSantis said he planned to put his line-item veto power to use.

Since then, DeSantis has repeatedly praised lawmakers for exceeding by $55 million his $625 million request for Everglades restoration funding and for separate water projects.

Last Friday, he said he intended to approve a new aircraft to fight wildfires. The budget includes $4.98 million for the Florida Forestry Service to make such a purchase.

Otherwise, DeSantis has mostly kept his budget plans within his office.

The budget includes high-profile spending issues such as a $242-per-student increase in school funding; more than $220 million to help areas of the Panhandle hit last year by Hurricane Michael; and $10.2 billion in general-revenue funding for health care and other social service programs, with much of that state money drawing federal matching funds.

The spending plan includes $3.4 billion in reserves, but DeSantis has indicated he would like to see a larger amount. Vetoes of spending could boost the reserves.

The business-backed nonprofit Florida TaxWatch has recommended DeSantis cut 109 projects from the budget worth a combined $133 million.

The group contends the projects, derided as “turkeys,” failed to be properly vetted before the Legislature completed the budget.

Dominated by transportation projects, the TaxWatch turkey list includes: $13.3 million sought by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, to widen County Road 491 in Citrus County; $1 million to restore Centennial Park in Fort Myers; $4.75 million for the Deputy William J. Gentry, Jr. Regional Public Safety Training Center in Highlands County; and $8 million for a workforce housing multi-family apartment complex in Jacksonville's urban core.

As of Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis had received 126 of the 194 bills approved by the Legislature during this year’s session. He’s signed 118 and vetoed two, according to a tally on the Senate website.

While the number of bills passed was smaller than in some past legislative sessions, DeSantis called the session “productive.”

“Sometimes I forget the stuff we’ve done because we’ve done so much,” DeSantis said.

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