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State News

DeSantis Announces $1 Billion in Vetoes, Dems Lament 'Behind Closed Doors' Decision-Making

Governor Ron DeSantis speaks into a microphone. Behind him is a white backdrop with the words, "Orlando Health" printed on it.
John Raoux
/
AP Photo
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. DeSantis spoke about Florida's caseload of coronavirus topping 100,000. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Gov. Ron DeSantis has canceled $1 billion of planned spending for the upcoming fiscal year. State agencies will be required to preserve a portion of their budget, but DeSantis did not veto pay increases for state workers. The state’s new budget comes in lighter at $92.2 billion.

“We were able to make the numbers work. And look, a lot of people have worked very hard these past 3-4 months. I know a number of our key agencies have been working around the clock… I wouldn’t have done it if we couldn’t make the numbers work, but we made them work,” DeSantis said when asked whether state employee pay increases were preserved.

Recent estimates show the state has lost nearly $1.5 billion in revenue since the pandemic began. Among the local vetoes—hospital projects in Calhoun and Madison County, water infiltration projects in Bay County and Apalachicola, and workforce and construction projects at Florida A&M and Florida State Universities.

Senate Democratic lawmakers are calling DeSantis' vetoes a decision made "behind closed doors."Sen. Gary Farmer says there should have been a special legislative session to determine what would get cut out of the 2020 – 2021 budget.

"Of this billion dollars that [have] been cut ,the vast majority is coming on the backs local projects and programs that our cities and our counties and our communities count on. Funding that help[s] ordinary people on a day-to-day basis," Farmer argued.

Among the items cut was the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP). It incentivizes local governments to create and sustain affordable housing for those of low to middle-income. The dollars can also go towards helping people with a down payment and closing cost assistance.

To view a full list of the items cut, click here.

During the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus's response to the vetoes, Sen. Victor Torres (D-Kissimmee) urged the governor to create a plan for families who could be forced out of their homes as his moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expires in less than two days. Torres says DeSantis should have addressed the issue when he announced vetoes to the states' budget:

"This is coming to a head-on collision, and we have families out there who are in desperate need to get money to pay for their rents and their mortgages because they're not getting unemployment or there's no jobs available for them."

The governor's moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expires July 1.