TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a $92.2 billion state budget Monday, but not before vetoing a record $1 billion in spending amid a pandemic that has pummeled Florida's economy.
What You Need To Know
- Governor also directing state agencies to cut spending by 6%
- Moves expected to leave state with $6.3B in reserves
- State Democrats predicted soaring COVID case counts would lead to greater economic upheaval
- More Florida Government stories
State revenues plummeted by nearly $900 million in April and $1.4 billion in May, prompting the governor to shore up state reserves by slashing projects approved by lawmakers three months ago before the coronavirus crisis began in earnest.
"My goal was to try to safeguard the historic achievements that we were able to do while also realizing historic savings so that we could put Florida on a more solid fiscal foundation," DeSantis told reporters at an afternoon press conference at the state Capitol.
Among the canceled appropriations are $21 million for a new state courthouse in Pinellas County and $15 million for 'Universities of Distinction' including the University of Central Florida. And even as the virus and racial justice protests rage, the governor vetoed $28 million for an infectious disease drug treatment and $150,000 for The Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.
DeSantis cast each of the vetoes as a sacrifice prompted by extraordinary circumstances.
"We always knew that we could see an economic downturn, but I don't think we necessarily forecasted the economy simply stopping for a time," he said. "So, we were operating under a certain set of assumptions. The legislature was as well. As the reality changes, I think we all have to recognize that none of us are going to get everything that we want."
He also said he was ordering state agencies to trim spending by six percent to save an additional $750 million. Combined with the vetoes and federal CARES act funding, the moves were expected to leave the state with $6.3 billion in reserve funding to help weather the duration of the crisis.
But if monthly revenues continue falling by eye-popping amounts and challenge the strength of the rainy day fund, state law would require DeSantis and the legislature to take additional actions to address Florida's fiscal footing.
In a press conference late Monday, members of the Florida Senate's Democratic caucus predicted soaring daily coronavirus case counts would lead to even greater economic upheaval.
"Most of us on this call believe that we will end up in a special session, probably, around the time of our org session to deal with further budgetary limitations, because I don't know that we can wait until next March to begin to address these things," said Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Lighthouse Point), the incoming Senate minority leader.