Mon, Jun 13, 2022 3:24 PM
By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square
Prior to signing Florida’s nearly $110 billion budget, Gov. Ron DeSantis went through it line by line, exercising his veto authority as part of what he says is his commitment to being a good steward of taxpayer money.
The budget was approved by the state legislature during the regular legislative session earlier this year.
Overall, DeSantis vetoed 425 line items, seven sections of the budget and one bill. Doing so saved taxpayers $2,96 billion that would have come from the general revenue fund and $17.5 million from the trust fund.
Overall, proposed spending vetoed by the governor totaled $3.13 billion.
While the budget allocates a record amount of funding for higher education institutions and programs, DeSantis vetoed funding for some state college projects. He nixed a plan to allocate $22.4 million to remodel buildings at Pasco-Hernando State College, $75 million for a teaching facility at the University of South Florida, and $30 million for a new music building at the University of Florida, among others.
Similarly, while the budget increased funding for a range of criminal justice and law enforcement programs, DeSantis vetoed some capital outlay expenses in this category. They include nixing $10 million for planning and design of correctional facilities, $840 million for correctional facility construction, $50 million for new construction of the Sixth District Court of Appeals and $15 million for the Second District Court of Appeal, among others.
With record amounts of funding for transportation projects also allocated in the budget, DeSantis also vetoed several transportation projects. They include $50 million to widen roads in Hernando County, $20.7 million for Crystal River Turkey Oak Bypass, $35 million for a sports training and youth tournament complex, among others.
DeSantis also vetoed three key significant expenditures, issuing transmittal notices explaining his veto for each. One involved purchasing $20 million worth of new aircraft and hiring new staff to facilitate state employee travel, blocking a plan to allocate $20 million every year for 30 years to the Board of Directors of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute for construction and development of a county life sciences park, and nixing the legislature’s plan to create a state “inflation fund.”
He also vetoed $300 million in grants and aid to local governments and nonstate entities for fixed capital outlays for Everglades restoration, tens of millions allocated for numerous water improvement projects, and SB 2508, which he said would have imposed additional regulatory burdens on the South Florida Water Management District.
Instead, DeSantis committed more than $1.2 billion for Everglades restoration and the protection of Florida’s water resources, with a total investment of more than $3.3 billion since 2019.
This includes more than $270 million to fully fund all three years of the state’s first ever Statewide Flooding Resilience Plan and an additional $180 million for the state’s next plan which will be submitted later this year.
“Governor Ron DeSantis made a promise on his second day in office to do more for Florida’s environment and resiliency,” Scott Wagner, vice chairman of the South Florida Water Management District, said in a statement. “The Governor has kept his promise to the people of Florida with record funding and the veto of Senate Bill 2508, and the South Florida Water Management District will continue our efforts to expedite restoration and infrastructure projects.”
Chauncey Goss, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District, also praised the veto of SB 2508, saying, “Floridians can be confident that the investments in Everglades restoration, water quality, and resiliency will all protect the quality of life for all South Floridians.” DeSantis’ veto was “another example of his commitment to the protection of Florida’s water resources … and his steadfast support of Everglades restoration and efforts to send water south.”
DeSantis made “good on his promise to tackle flooding and sea level rise in Florida,” Kate Wesner, American Flood Coalition Florida director, said. “From fully funding every project on the first-ever Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan to strengthening the state’s partnership with the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation at the University of South Florida, he has reassured us time and time again that sound science is driving environmental policy and action.”
The budget included a record $1.24 billion in tax relief. And by the end of fiscal 2022, Florida will have reserves of more than $20 billion.