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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis receives budget with money for Everglades restoration, sea level rise mitigation

Posted By on Wed, Jun 2, 2021 at 10:08 AM

  • photo courtesy Governor's Press Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday formally received a proposed $101.5 billion state budget filled with many of his top priorities.

DeSantis has 15 days to act on the record spending plan for the fiscal year that will start July 1. He also received 12 other bills, including what are known as budget "conforming" and "implementing" bills. Among other things, the budget includes money to give bonuses to first responders.

It also would provide an additional $50 million to raise teacher salaries; provide $96 million to offer home- and community-based services to more people with developmental and intellectual disabilities; and provide $100 million to clean up an old phosphate plant in Manatee County that sparked concerns this year about a potential environmental catastrophe.

Also, the budget, which lawmakers approved April 30, includes money for such issues as Everglades restoration, addressing effects of sea-level rise and raising the minimum pay of state workers to $13 an hour. The budget includes just under 700 line items pitched by individual lawmakers. Those items would provide nearly $550 million for local projects and organizations. DeSantis has line-item veto power.

The Tallahassee-based group Florida TaxWatch recommended DeSantis consider nixing 116 proposals, worth an estimated $157.5 million, from the spending plan.

One of the budget-related bills (SB 2516) would set up a process for the South Florida Water Management District, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to plan water storage north of Lake Okeechobee as part of continued water restoration efforts. The storage plan is a priority of Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby.

Another bill (SB 1892) would set up an emergency preparedness and response fund that would be directly at the governor’s disposal. That would be separate from the state’s traditional “rainy day” funds. The House Senate agreed to seed the fund with $1 billion that the state expects to receive through the federal stimulus law known as the American Rescue Plan Act.

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