TALLAHASSEE, Fa. (AP) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slashed $1 billion from the state budget lawmakers approved in March, including some of his own priorities. He said the drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic forced him to make difficult choices.
The state budget for the fiscal year that begins Wednesday will now total $92.2 billion
DeSantis mostly talked about what was preserved in the budget, including pay raises for teachers and state workers, $625 million for Everglades restoration and other water quality projects and a boost in spending for child welfare.
“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 solid fiscal foundation,” DeSantis said at a news conference announcing the budget signing.
He said he vetoed $550 million of his own priorities, including $20 million in funding for a job growth grant fund.
“I want it, but at the same time, sometimes things need to be put on pause,” DeSantis said.
Florida doesn’t have an income tax and generates the bulk of its revenue from its sales tax. And that is boosted by the millions of tourists that come to the state each year. With many people not traveling and many residents staying home, the state has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax collections.
“As the reality changes, I think we all have to recognize that none of us are going to get everything that we want,” DeSantis said.
The budget was approved in March, just as DeSantis was shutting down the state to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In the first two months of the shutdown, the state lost more than $1.5 billion in revenue, but still didn’t have to adjust the budget for the fiscal year ending Tuesday.