During a kickoff for budget conferencing, finance chairs from both chambers say a line-item list of federal Coronavirus relief spending should not be expected this weekend.
Florida is expected to receive $9 billion to $10 billion from the $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden signed in early March.
Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Jay Trumbull, speaking at a press conference Friday evening, put off details about how the federal funding would be spent.
“You’ll be able to see a comprehensive list when we have that certified and it rolls out just like we roll out many of the other things,” Stargel said.
Stargel said to expect more detail early next week.
“We’ve got a recommendation from the House. They put that in the back of the bill. We’re going to review that, and then our hope is to have that comprehensive list to everybody about the time that we meet early in the week,” Stargel said.
Trumbull echoed Stargel’s statements, saying details of the spending will be left to subcommittees.
“So, all of those issues are going to be conference issues. Let the subs, sort of, work some of that stuff out, figure out where we can focus, but focus those projects on issues that are wide-ranging to our state,” Trumbull said.
The only stipulation for the federal relief funding is it must be used “for the purpose of responding to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
Trumbull pointed out budget items, like transportation funding, would be a fit for the nonrecurring federal aid.
“In our back in the bill language, in our budget, we have $2 billion that goes to the Transportation Trust Fund. The funding was eviscerated because of COVID. So, look for other opportunities to invest resources like that,” Trumbull said.
The House, in the back pages of its proposed budget, included a $2 billion infusion into the State Transportation Trust Fund.
During budget-slashing due to the economic fallout of the pandemic, the fund took a beating. The House plan would largely make up for the revenue loss — the new funding represents a more than 20% increase.
The Senate, the House and Gov. Ron DeSantis at one point or another have indicated the one-time federal Coronavirus relief funds should be spent on nonrecurring budget items.
The Governor pitched his ideas for the Coronavirus relief funding in March including money to fight sea level rise, improve infrastructure, fix the state’s unemployment system and give first responders $1,000 bonuses for their work during the past year.
During the budget press conference Friday, Trumball sidestepped questions about the first responder bonuses saying it was as much of a priority as everything else.
The House and Senate will need to reach an agreement on a budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1.