SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a $91.4 billion state budget for next year and more money being funneled towards public-school teachers and continue ‘momentum’ on environmental issues.
This proposal is an initial step as lawmakers prepare for the January start of the annual congressional session. This will include negotiating a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and lawmakers will decide whether to move forward with the governor’s priorities. This includes his plan to set minimum teacher salaries at $47,500 which would cost $603 million next year.
“I told my folks, I said we have got to do this in a way that is fiscally responsible and fiscally sustainable,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the state capitol. “We’re not going to budge on that. And I really believe that you have the ability to do a lot of really bold things but do that within the context of a budget that was built for the long haul. And I think that that’s what we have done today.”
This proposal from DeSantis is a little larger than this year’s budget which is $91 billion.
He has also made a priority since taking office to clean up waterways after huge problems with toxic algae and red tide in Southeast and Southwest Florida. The proposal includes about $625 million for projects. Those include restoration in the Everglades, water-quality improvements and springs restoration.
DeSantis is also recommending $480.5 million in budget cuts, but the largest portion of that, $284.5 million, would come from eliminating the controversial “Best and Brightest” teacher-bonus program. He wants to $300 million on his new bonus program for teachers and principals.
It is not clear how the House and Senate will handle DeSantis’ proposals after the congressional session begins on January 14. “In the coming days and weeks, we will evaluate the governor’s budget in more detail as we work to prepare a 2020-2021 General Appropriations Act for consideration in the Senate early next year,” Bill Galvano, Senate President said.
While the teacher-pay proposal has drawn much of the budget attention in recent weeks, DeSantis’ spending plan also addressed other high-profile issues.
For example, he is seeking $50 million for the “Job Growth Grant Fund,” up from $40 million this year. The economic-development program was created under former Gov. Rick Scott after a legislative battle about providing incentive money directly to businesses.
Also, DeSantis wants to continue providing $50 million to the tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida, which House leaders have sought to eliminate. He acknowledged that the issue will be a “source of contention.”