Federal money boosts sagging state coffers
Ron DeSantis is putting the budget on the back burner for now. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

Federal money and reserves will be necessary.

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis hailed billions of dollars in federal money coming in for coronavirus relief.

The $4.1 billion disbursal is half of what the state is due from the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act, a spending bill passed in response to COVID-19.

“The $4.1 billion in federal funds received through the CARES Act will help ensure Florida secures critical resources as we continue this fight,” said DeSantis. “We thank President [Donald] Trump for this much-needed support and look forward to our continued work to defeat COVID-19 and emerge stronger than before.”

The federal CARES Act appears to provide about $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.

The announcement of released funds is timely for Florida, which passed its FY 20-21 budget as the new coronavirus began to drive moves like the end of the NBA season, a precursor to a wide swath of subsequent restrictions that were previously unimaginable.

The Governor earlier this week expressed confidence that the budget could hold even without a Special Session.

“We’ve got to see what the economic prognosis looks like. I get numbers, how much in the hole we’ll be for the remainder of this fiscal year, and the numbers I’ve received are not anything that would cause us to have to redo the current fiscal year budget,” DeSantis said.

“And even next year, given the amount of money we’ve received [from the federal government], a lot of people feel that could be doable,” the Governor added.

The $93.2 million budget includes roughly $400 million in local projects, along with full funding for affordable housing, tourism marketing, and other areas neglected in previous budget cycles.

Some forecasters, such as Moody’s, see a gloomy picture ahead: a potential $10 billion cut from the budget, though the federal money and reserves could make up for most of that.

Earlier this month, Senate President Bill 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.

“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. [RonDeSantis deems necessary will further buffer the already health reserve,” Galvano added.

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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