Senate President Bill Galvano on Thursday expressed confidence that Florida’s current budget should be able to absorb the economic punches of the coronavirus crisis but cautioned senators they might have to return to deal with federal aid.
In a letter sent to all senators Thursday, Galvano said he and state economists believe the state’s $2 billion cash reserve should help weather the additional costs and lost revenue expected from the economic collapse the crisis is bringing about.
“While we expect to see significant decreases in general revenue collections beginning with the April General Revenue Collection Report through the end of our fiscal year, our current general revenue reserve cash balance, combined with other available state reserves, should alleviate any concerns regarding the need to cut the current year budget,” he wrote in a “Fiscal Update” memorandum.
That’s in addition to the $12 billion Florida expects from the $2.2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act approved last week by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.
However, that federal money could require additional actions this year by the Florida Legislature, meaning a Special Session, Galvano cautioned. He did not offer any idea of when he might call senators back to Tallahassee. Florida, like much of the world, is caught between the need for government action and the public need to avoid gatherings as the pandemic mounts.
“Based on our initial analysis of the CARES Act, we may need to return to Tallahassee, at the appropriate time in fiscal year 2020-21, to formally appropriate available federal funding,” Galvano wrote to the senators. “We must be mindful our state budget impacts our constituents and our economy, and the decisions we make must demonstrate fiscal responsibility, while doing no harm.”
That federal CARES Act appears to provide approximately $8.3 billion for stabilization of the Florida budget and many local government budgets, and another $3.7 billion to be spent on specific aid programs within the state government.
Galvano wrote that the Senate staff and the Executive Office of the Governor are working to review the federal legislation and more analysis will be forthcoming.
“In addition to the healthy reserve set aside this session, the influx of federal funding under the CARES Act should help alleviate concerns regarding significant budget cuts to the 2020-21 fiscal year budget. Any line item vetoes Gov. [Ron] DeSantis deems necessary will further buffer the already health reserve,” Galvano wrote.