Senate budget leaders have agreed to preserve funding for Space Florida at its usual level.
Ahead of the budget conference, the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee and Chair George Gainer had only offered $3 million, half of what Space Florida has received in recent years. But with the first return offer of the budget conference, the Senate agreed to preserve the aerospace economic development agency’s funding at $6 million, like the House wanted.
The Senate also proposed dropping trust fund allocations to Space Florida from $12.5 million to $11.25 million, but negotiators canceled that reduction. The agency will receive its usual funding from the State Economic Enhancement and Development Trust Fund.
“We collected a little bit more documentary tax, a little bit more sales tax and we had a lot better outlook on the budget than originally,” Gainer said when asked about Space Florida funding. “So Chair (Kelli) Stargel and President (Wilton) Simpson have gotten together and I think they presented a real good plan.”
Space Florida is the state’s agency to attract aerospace companies to Florida for business opportunities. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to give the agency more flexibility to provide bonds and financing for commercial space and aerospace projections.
“The importance of the space budget to Florida in Space Florida is it’s vital to the economic engine in that part of the state, and I’m going going to keep holding the line on that,” said Rep. Jayer Williamson, Gainer’s House counterpart.
From the trust fund portion of Space Florida’s funding, $1 million goes to collaborative research, development and project commercialization under an agreement between Florida and Israel. That funding continues on an annual basis.
Lawmakers have agreed to put $252.5 million in general revenue toward the transportation, tourism and economic development portion of the budget. The Senate is also requesting $13.5 billion in trust fund expenditures. That total comes to $13.7 billion in the Senate’s latest offer for the silo.