DeSantis’ budget elicits praise, concern

New Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed the largest budget in state history.
Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis released a proposed $91.3 billion spending plan in advance of the upcoming legislative session. The spending plan would be the largest in state history.

The budget includes many initiatives including $85 million for the Florida Job Growth Fund, $21.7 billion for school funding and $625 million for water quality projects.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey thinks at first glance the spending plan would be beneficial to Tallahassee and its residents.

“Yes, I’m interested in seeing more about his plan. I think that any opportunity that you can partner with the state and local governments that you have to give serious consideration and I know they are, for instance we have a job program here in Tallahassee that we pitched, and we’ve gotten a great response and we’ll see where it goes,” said Dailey.

One item that’s not included in the spending plan is an across-the-board pay raises for state employees.

“I feel like state employees not getting a raise can be detrimental to the recruitment process, as far as hiring new incoming talent from instate and out of state. People who were onboard with him (DeSantis) originally may be moving off board now. But also state workers who sacrifice their time and energy. State workers shouldn’t be the primary recipient of budget cuts,” said state employee Jeremiah Way.

His proposed budget does not include tuition or fee increases for students at state universities and state colleges — a carryover from the Rick Scott administration —  and $582.8 million for the Bright Futures scholarship program.

“I have to pay for my classes. With him not raising tuition, I feel like I’m not going to have to stress how I’m going to pay for class and focus more on my studies,” Jamila Johnson, an FSU student, said.

Johnson added that she thinks the spending plan is a step in the right direction and it gives more people an opportunity to further their education, job opportunities and creating a better future.

DeSantis has said the spending plan’s vision includes $335 million in tax cuts for Florida families as well as a property tax cut of nearly $300 million.  It also features an additional $10 million for mental health care in Florida’s schools. Also, $45.3 million in sales-tax holidays for back-to-school shoppers and purchases of disaster-preparedness supplies.

Negotiations for the 2019-2020 budget during the legislative session starts March 5. If approved by lawmakers during the session the proposal would go into effect on July 1 at the beginning of the fiscal year for the state of Florida.