DeSantis Approves Record $100B Budget, Blasts Fried's Gubernatorial Bid
Florida’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year is the largest ever, coming in at $100 billion. Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $1.5 billion in spending. Most of that is federal money the legislature intended to use to create an emergency response fund. DeSantis says he nixed it because of constraints on how the state could spend the dollars.
“They [the federal government] said you can't use it for the purpose we wanted to use it for –to create a fund to meet the needs in the future. And so, because of that, if we were to go forward with it we would run the risk of having the feds come after us for it. We also functionally wouldn’t have been able to use it effectively," he said, citing concerns about a federal procurement process that could slow the state down in an emergency.
This year’s budget is shored up by nearly $7 billion in federal aid. The spending plan contains the touted bonuses for teachers, principals and first responders. It also increases the minimum wage to $13 per hour for state workers.
DeSantis said the budget is partly a reflection of Florida's pandemic priorities and his administration's decision to keep businesses and schools open. He also used the budget signing ceremony to contrast his leadership with that of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who announced this week she's running for governor.
DeSantis called Fried a “lockdown lobbyist.”
“She would have had our kids locked out of school for the entire year, she would have had this business shuttered for the whole year. They would be out of business if Fried were governor," DeSantis said, referencing the New Smyrna restaurant he was speaking at.
"She’s opposed us at every turn. All the good stuff we’ve been able to accomplish for Florida, she’s opposed it. And I’ve done more in my first week as governor than she’s done the entire time she’s been agriculture commissioner.”
Fried has blasted DeSantis for pandemic policies. She’s also been critical of legislative efforts he’s championed, like a bill placing restrictions on voting by mail and creating increased penalties for crimes that occur when protests turn violent. Before she can get to DeSantis, Fried will have to win the Democratic Primary where she’s facing Congressman and former Governor Charlie Crist.