Budget conference: $25M for coronavirus — with more available, if needed
Sen. Aaron Bean sees $25M as a start. More is available if needed.

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The offer matches Gov. Ron DeSantis' request.

The Senate agreed to the House position on funding to fight the coronavirus outbreak, almost doubling a federal commitment made days ago.

The hope is that $25 million will be enough. If not, says Sen. Aaron Bean, the state has ample reserves and will access them if necessary.

“The exact number I believe is $25 million that we will give to the Department of Health,” Bean told Florida Politics Monday, “which is what the Governor’s been advocating for.”

In addition to the state money, the federal government is chipping in $27,296,000 from an $8.3 billion expenditure.

Bean, professionally engaged with UF Health in Jacksonville, understands that $25 million may just be a down payment on the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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“We’re always ready,” Bean noted. “If something were to happen to Florida, we’ve got our reserves that we have the ability and in the event of an emergency could tap in.”

“The $25 million,” Bean added, “is something that we feel comfortable with that can defend Florida from this virus.”

With uncertainty mounting about the trajectory of the virus, including people not covered by health insurance and Florida’s elderly population, a demographic particularly at risk, Florida Politics asked whether Bean thought that money could last the entire fiscal year.

“I do,” Bean said, but a “budget conference can make changes midstream” if needed.

“We’ll be ready,” Bean vowed.

The budget chiefs in the House and Senate had previously agreed to a dedicated budget line item for a response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The number, expected earlier this week to be between $10 million and $20 million, will now match the $25 million Gov. Ron DeSantis wants.

“The request has been made, and we’re going to meet that request,” Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley said Saturday.

House Speaker Jose Oliva likewise framed the request as “supporting the Governor,” Oliva said.

The request comes as Florida registers the early waves of COVID-19’s assault.

The Florida Department of Health said late Sunday that another person in Broward County has tested positive for the disease, bringing the total to 13 people diagnosed with the coronavirus in Florida.

Another five Floridians have been returned to the U.S. after testing positive and are being held at a federal site.

The death rate for those who test positive for the virus ranges between 2% and 3.5%. Older people are particularly at risk.

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Material from Florida Politics’ Ryan Nicol was used in this post.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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