Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking state legislators in the coming year to embrace a $114.4 billion recommended budget that boosts teacher pay, sets aside more money for Everglades restoration and also calls for a one-time cut in taxes and fees paid by residential homeowners on their insurance policies.
DeSantis announced his budget recommendations for the 2024-25 fiscal year during a nearly one-hour event held in Marco Island. The Governor squeezed in his budget rollout between campaign events in New Hampshire on Monday and the next Republican presidential debate scheduled in Alabama on Wednesday.
The overall budget would be smaller than the current year’s budget, a feat accomplished by trimming back on new construction projects, not spending as much on one-time items, and forgoing an across-the-board pay increase for state workers. State workers, however, will not see an increase in health insurance premiums despite a projected deficit in the account that pays for their benefits.
DeSantis stressed many familiar budget priorities, but he also made sure to point out that he’s calling for eliminating more than 1,000 state jobs — although many are presumed vacant — while also cutting the overall size.
“We are living within our means, we are reducing the size of government,” DeSantis said.
Florida once again is projected to have a sizable budget surplus. DeSantis proposes leaving billions unspent for another year, although he wants another $1 billion for a special trust fund that has been used to pay for expenses related to immigration enforcement actions in the Florida Keys and on sending Florida law enforcement to the Texas border.
DeSantis also wants another $57 million for the recently created Florida State Guard, some of which would be used for more boats and vehicles.
The Governor also proposed more than $1 billion in tax cuts, including more than $475 million from several tax holidays — including two back-to-school tax holidays and a “Freedom Summer” tax holiday. The proposal exempts sales taxes from the purchase of kayaks, canoes, tents, and camping and fishing supplies.
DeSantis also as promised set aside $1 million on litigation expenses that could be related to fighting the snubbing of Florida State University from the College Football Playoff. He announced his plan on Fox News on Monday evening.
“If you win and you are undefeated that should mean something,” said DeSantis, who added he wasn’t sure if anything could be done to help FSU ahead of the actual playoff games being held early next month.