Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday made the case for full funding of his proposed Job Growth Grant Fund, which allows him to issue grants to road projects and targeted job training programs.
The fund received $50 million in the current budget, but the House plan would cut it to $25 million as legislators look to pare down the request.
DeSantis wants $100 million, an increase from previous years for money over which the Governor’s Office has sole discretion. With the Governor and legislators far apart, DeSantis defended the discretionary pool of money during a news conference in Gainesville.
“We recommended an increase,” DeSantis said. “This is something that the Governor is able to work with local communities, award things for both infrastructure and for career and job training. We’ve typically had it in the $50- to $60-million dollar range. We’re asking for $100 million because we’ve seen high impacts on it.”
DeSantis noted the fund is used for projects like expanding roads in industrial parks, as well as career education projects like increasing access to commercial driver training.
“This is something that’s critical,” DeSantis said.
“We’re asking for $100 million,” DeSantis reiterated. “I think we’ll use it very well and it will make a big difference.”
Legislators may end up agreeing, but it will take some negotiation to get to “yes.”
The House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday rolled out a budget that offered just a fourth of the money sought and also excised another high-priority DeSantis proposal: a six-month gas tax holiday.
The Job Growth Grant Fund was created during the Rick Scott administration, with the Governor seeking a discretionary incentive vehicle. Scott distributed roughly $170 million through the fund before he left office at the end of 2018.
Just as the House and Senate advance their own “sprinkle lists” of local appropriations projects during the budget process, the Job Growth Grant Fund allows the Governor to do a little sprinkling of his own. But landing on a precise number every year is a matter of negotiation on both counts.