With billions of federal coronavirus relief aid already sent to Florida and billions more on the way, the state has a separate staffing plan to manage all that money.
Senate budget chief Sen. Kelli Stargel said managing the influx of money is complicated.
“I mean this is a new thing for our state to have to deal with this amount of money,” Stargel said.
Stargel said the staff has already been in place to deal with funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).
Florida already received at least $8.4 billion from the $2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law by former President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020.
Of the CARES money, the state sent $2.47 billion to the 12 largest counties. That left $5.86 billion to be deposited into the state treasury as general revenue. Just shy of $1.4 billion of that money has been dispersed.
The next round of coronavirus relief funding headed to the state is expected to be even more. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan almost exactly a year after the CARES Act was signed. Florida is expected to receive $10.2 billion for state and local governments and around $12 billion for its education system.
All of these federal dollars have to be received, tracked and managed, which is why the Senate included in its supplemental budget, also called a sprinkle list, a $3.75 million line item for “continued staff augmentation.”
Spending on the supplemental budgets supplied by each chamber is not subject to the same level of budget negotiations as other parts of the state’s budget.
The funds would go to the Department of Emergency Management to pay for additional staff. The money comes from non-recurring revenue, but the positions could be a line item that is renewed. Federal guidelines for certain relief funds give the state until 2024 to spend the money.
“We don’t want to do anything inappropriate that the federal government wouldn’t want and they always have guidance and that guidance is often complicated,” Stargel said.