Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed the state’s $90.9 billion budget.
DeSantis carved out more than $131 million in line-item vetoes. The state’s reserves total nearly $5.4 billion. Despite that, the spending plan still tops out as one of Florida’s largest ever.
DeSantis touted record environmental funding and an increase of nearly $250 dollars in per-student education spending.
“It is the highest amount that we’ve ever funded education in the state of Florida," DeSantis said.
However, the budget sweeps money from the state’s affordable housing trust fund. DeSantis’ original proposal in January called for fully funding the trust. DeSantis said the sweep is much smaller than in previous years, and highlights other efforts to boost affordable housing.
"I mean, obviously we put in in there," DeSantis said. "That went back and forth. I think that we got much more than last year on it. But at the same time, it was a very successful budget so you got to pick some of these battles.”
In all, DeSantis used his veto power with a relatively light hand, largely because lawmakers gave him what he wanted.
“I got more in the budget than most first-year governors," DeSantis said. "So, if I had not been as successful, there probably would’ve been more projects in there that I would’ve vetoed.”
Lawmakers approved a record $91.1 billion dollar budget, just shy of DeSantis’ $91.3 billion proposal. But DeSantis says it’s about more than the total cost. He noted certain member projects that he said the government doesn’t have any business funding.
Nonprofit budget watchdog group Florida TaxWatch urged DeSantis to veto with a “light touch.” The group found 109 budget “turkeys,” or appropriations projects that weren’t fully vetted by the legislature. The majority of the turkeys were local member projects.
“It’s still a significant amount of money that could’ve been spent in areas such as early education," Calabro said. "That $133 million could’ve been spent additionally in classrooms – whether it’s charter or public classrooms – hurricane recovery, services for children and the elderly, and even in some cases tax cuts.”
A number of state agency heads released statements praising the governor’s budget.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Senate President Bill Galvano said that while he doesn’t agree with every decision, “it is clear that Governor DeSantis takes his responsibility very seriously and that he has remained open-minded and approached the review process very deliberatively.”