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Governor proposes record spending amid pandemic

Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 4:36 PM EST
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Tallahassee, Fla. (WCJB) - The Governor is proposing Florida spend $4.4 billion more than it did last year, much of it due to federal funding for Medicaid, but none-the-less, the rosy economic picture comes as a surprise.

‘Florida Leads’ is the theme of this year’s budget proposal.

The Governor said despite a pandemic ravaged economy, Florida is doing better than most states.

“If you are a hair stylist, we protect your right to earn a living,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

The result has been hundreds of millions in unexpected revenue.

“You go back in April, people were anticipating a massive hold, so we were able to do better,” said DeSantis.

Education funding is up in the Governor’s proposal.

He would increase per pupil spending by $233 a student.

“And that’s $18,019 per pupil,” said DeSantis.

There’s also 550 million new dollars for teacher raises.

“To the goal of getting the average starting salary statewide to $47,500,” said DeSantis.

College and University funding remains flat with no hike in tuition.

“There are not a lot of spending increases throughout the budget that are not pandemic driven,” said DeSantis.

Not all is rosy, there are 169 fewer state jobs in the new proposal and a billion dollars would be cut from existing state budgets.

The Governor also wants to continue funding for the Everglades and water quality at $625 million.

There’s also a billion new dollars over four years to fight climate change.

“And the purpose of this is to tackle the challenges posed by flooding, intensified storm events, sea level rise,” said DeSantis.

And with all the increased spending outlined by the Governor, Florida will start the new budget with $6.6 billion in reserves, the highest in state history.

Florida lawmakers will have the final say in the spending plan when their begin their annual session on March 2nd.

The new spending plan takes effect in July.

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