Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Framework for Freedom Budget

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Framework for Freedom Budget

 

The budget includes a record tax relief package to help Florida families and record investments in Florida’s environment

 

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Framework for Freedom Budget for Fiscal Year 2023–24 while visiting the City of Fort Pierce. The Framework for Freedom Budget includes a record $2.7 billion tax relief package to help Florida families during a time of high inflation caused by reckless federal spending. Additionally, the Governor highlighted record investments in Florida’s environment and natural resources which are a cornerstone of Florida’s thriving economy, including a record $1.6 billion investment in Everglades restoration and water quality projects. The Governor championed and secured the Debt Reduction Program that will immediately reduce Florida’s debt by approximately $400 million, saving an estimated $31 million and accelerating debt reduction while Washington, D.C. continues to grow the national debt. The Framework for Freedom Budget totals $116.5 billion for the people of Florida. Florida maintains healthy reserves at the end of the fiscal year, totaling more than $15.3 billion. Florida has maintained record levels of reserves while continuing to make historic investments in education, public safety, infrastructure, and the environment. To maintain Florida’s sound fiscal standing in the face of continued economic headwinds due to ill-conceived federal policies, Governor DeSantis vetoed $510.9 million.

For budget highlights, click here.

To read the veto list, click here.

To read the veto messages, click here.

 

“We have stayed the course and put the individual freedoms of Floridians at the forefront of every decision, resulting in low unemployment, record tourism and a thriving economy,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Florida continues to lead the nation on all fronts, and we have laid the groundwork for generations of success. Through this year’s budget, we have cemented an economic framework which supports Florida’s families, business owners, and students in the pursuit of a prosperous future.”

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Framework for Freedom Budget

 

PROTECTING FLORIDA’S NATURAL RESOURCES FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

 

In 2019, Governor DeSantis called for $2.5 billion to be invested over four years for the protection of water resources. The Governor surpassed that goal by securing over $3.3 billion and is building on this historic investment with Executive Order 23-06, calling for $3.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources, including water quality and water supply. The Framework for Freedom Budget initiates that investment, by dedicating more than $1.6 billion.

 

Governor DeSantis signed more than $694 million for Everglades restoration projects, including:

 

  • $356.5 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
  • $64 million for the EAA Reservoir to continue the momentum of this critical project to reduce harmful discharges and help send more clean water south of the Everglades.
  • $50 million is included for specific project components designed to achieve the greatest reductions in harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries as identified in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project Draft Integrated Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement dated August 2020.
  • $96.1 million is included for the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget also includes $796 million for targeted water quality improvements to achieve significant, meaningful, and measurable nutrient reductions in key waterbodies across the state and to implement the initial recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force.

 

On top of the investment in targeted water quality improvements, the budget includes $50 million to restore Florida’s world-renowned springs; $85 million for the continued stabilization, water treatment, and closure at Piney Point; and a $59 million investment to improve water quality and combat the effects and impacts of harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae and red tide.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget includes $17 million to support the ongoing oyster restoration operation in Apalachicola Bay. This investment will double the supported acreage from 1,000 to 2,000 acres of durable oyster habitat.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget includes more than $2.8 billion for Florida’s agricultural industry. To preserve Florida’s iconic citrus industry, the budget invests $52.4 million for citrus research, the Citrus Health Response Program, and for consumer awareness marketing efforts.

 

Additionally, the budget funds $1 billion to protect our prized properties and waterways, including $850 million for lands within the Florida Wildlife Corridor and $100 million for the Florida Forever Program to support land conservation and recreation.

 

FREEDOM IN EDUCATION

 

Florida is the #1 ranked state in education freedom and has earned the spot of #1 higher education system in the nation for seven straight years. Through the Framework for Freedom Budget, Governor DeSantis is ensuring high quality education choices are available for all students. This funding also supports teachers to ensure they have the tools they need to prepare Florida students for future success, while rewarding them with pay raises for 4 straight years. Key investments include:

 

  • $1.1 billion, an increase of $252 million, in funding to provide salary increases for new and veteran teachers and other eligible instructional personnel.
  • $1.6 billion in funding for early childhood education, including more than $427 million for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK).
  • Historic $26.8 billion in funding for the K-12 public school system.
  • $1.7 billion in state operating funding for the Florida College System.
  • $3.7 billion in state operating funding for the State University System.
  • $100 million for the recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty at state universities.
  • $25 million for the institutional overhaul and restructuring of the New College of Florida.

 

The budget includes the highest per student investment of $8,648 in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), which is an increase of $405 over Fiscal Year 2022-23. Governor DeSantis is once again acknowledging Florida’s hard-working educators by providing funding flexibility for school districts to provide any eligible teacher and other instructional personnel with a salary increase. The budget appropriates $26.8 billion in total funding for the FEFP.

The Framework for Freedom Budget does not include any tuition or fee increases for Florida’s colleges and universities. Under Governor DeSantis, students and families have not faced any additional financial burdens due to rising tuition costs as they are completing their education.

 

PRIORITIZING WORKFORCE EDUCATION

 

The Governor has championed Florida becoming the #1 state in the nation for workforce education by 2030. To make this goal a reality, the Governor has committed more than $6 billion to workforce education since 2019, making Florida #1 in the nation for attracting and developing a skilled workforce.

 

To continue elevating Florida’s workforce program, the Framework for Freedom Budget includes $635 million to support workforce education programs to ensure Florida students are prepared to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs, and help Florida meet its goal of becoming first in the nation for workforce education by 2030.

 

This includes $20 million, an increase of $5 million, to develop the Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program for the Governor’s Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program to establish or expand pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs for high school and college students.

 

The budget maintains $125 million in total funding to support the LINE and PIPELINE nursing education initiatives.

 

INVESTING IN FLORIDA’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

Florida is currently home to over 22 million people and welcomes millions of visitors each year. As a high-growth state, being able to move an increasing number of people and goods from place to place quickly and effectively depends on a continuing commitment to developing and maintaining a world-class transportation infrastructure.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget invests $4 billion for a bold new initiative to address the challenge of congestion on Florida’s highways and roads that is the inevitable result of our state’s historic growth. The Moving Florida Forward Initiative will accelerate the development and completion of transportation projects to provide additional highway and road capacity to meet the needs of Florida’s ever-growing economy and population.

The Framework for Freedom Budget includes $14.8 billion for the Florida Department of Transportation to retain current employees and supports the creation of more than  254,000 jobs. Of this total, $13.9 billion is provided for the State Transportation Work Program, an ongoing five-year plan for the implementation and completion of transportation infrastructure projects, including the construction and maintenance of Florida’s roads, bridges, rails, seaports, and other public transportation systems that grow the state’s economy and improve the quality of life for our citizens.

 

Additionally, the Framework for Freedom Budget includes $75 million to support the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which helps fund projects that support public infrastructure and expand workforce education opportunities.

 

To further support Florida’s rural communities, the budget includes $25 million for the Rural Infrastructure Fund to help rural communities expand necessary infrastructure. Additionally, the budget includes $100 million to help small and rural communities expand access to broadband Internet.

 

KEEPING FLORIDA COMMUNITIES SAFE

 

Floridians are enjoying a 50-year record low crime rate, and year-over-year crime in Florida is down nearly ten percent. The Framework for Freedom Budget continues to make necessary investments in our public safety, including comprehensive salary increases for correctional officers, enhancing law enforcement and correctional officer safety, and combatting the flow of fentanyl into Florida from the southern border.

 

The Governor has signed $130 million in the budget to provide salary increases across various public safety agencies, including $60.5 million to increase the Department of Corrections’ (FDC) base rate of pay to $22 per hour for specified Correctional Officer and Correctional Probation Officer positions.

 

Governor DeSantis is continuing to back the blue by signing $110 million for payments to local government first responders through the First Responder Recognition Payments Program. Additionally, $20 million will fund a second round of recruitment bonus payments for law enforcement officers who are new to the profession in the state, including those relocating from other states. This initiative will provide bonus payments of $5,000 to eligible law enforcement officers.

 

The Governor is committed to protecting communities from fentanyl manufactured in China and flowing across the Southern Border. The Framework for Freedom Budget includes $20.7 million to support law enforcement efforts to combat the opioid epidemic affecting Florida’s communities, including the creation of the State Assistance for Fentanyl Eradication (S.A.F.E.) in Florida Program.

 

FLORIDA SUPPORTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND HURRICANE RECOVERY EFFORTS

 

Hurricanes Ian and Nicole had devastating impacts on Floridians across the state, but Florida had the resources necessary to ensure swift response and recovery efforts. To ensure Florida is prepared when the next disaster strikes, Governor DeSantis signed $2.3 billion for mitigation, response and recovery efforts through the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

 

Governor DeSantis approved over $750 million in disaster relief funding during the December 2022 Legislative Special Session. $350 million of this funding was to provide the full match requirement for FEMA Public Assistance grants to local governments affected by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

 

Additionally, Florida is setting aside $500 million for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund.

 

REMAINING THE MOST MILITARY & VETERAN FRIENDLY STATE IN THE NATION

 

The budget includes record funding of $102.5 million to launch a multi-year initiative at Camp Blanding for the construction of multiple state-of-the-art training facilities for the Florida National Guard. This major investment in live-fire ranges, infantry battle courses and barracks to support simultaneous training of 5,000 guardsmen, will elevate Florida’s force readiness and reduce our dependence on federal and other state resources.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget includes $5.2 million to support Florida National guardsmen seeking higher education degrees and $3 million to give $1,000 bonuses to guardsmen who recruit new members into the Florida National Guard.

 

To ensure Florida remains fully fortified to respond to not only natural disasters but also to protect its people and borders from illegal aliens and civil unrest, it is now more important than ever to augment our Florida National Guard with the support of the Florida State Guard. The Framework for Freedom Budget provides $108 million to grow the Florida State Guard, a civilian volunteer force, to aid during emergencies.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget invests an additional $6 million for medical and non-medical equipment upgrades, capital improvements, and increased staffing for the State Veterans’ Nursing Homes. The budget also includes funds to begin planning for the construction of the ninth State Veterans’ Nursing Home in Collier County.

 

The budget also continues a $2 million investment to assist veterans in securing meaningful skills-based employment, provide employers a skilled talent pipeline and to assist veterans in creating and operating a small business.

 

BUILDING A ROBUST PUBLIC HEALTH NETWORK

 

Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis have fought for record funding to support cancer research to enhance Florida’s competitiveness at national and international levels and ensure that all Floridians have access to the highest quality of care. The Framework for Freedom Budget invests more than $190 million in cancer research funding, with $20 million in funding to establish the Florida Cancer Innovation Fund to support groundbreaking cancer research.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget commits $290 million to enhance services for new and expecting mothers and their children. This funding also includes $3.8 million to support premiums for families who receive services through the Florida KidCare Program and were impacted by Hurricane Ian.

 

An additional $30 million was included for Fiscal Year 2023-24 in the Heartbeat Protection Act (Chapter 2023-21, Laws of Florida), signed by Governor DeSantis on April 13, 2023, which will support life and family in the State of Florida.  Additional resources available for mothers and families will include parenting support services, nonmedical materials like cribs, car seats, clothing, diapers and formula, counseling and mentoring, education materials, and classes on pregnancy, parenting, adoption, life skills and employment readiness.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget includes more than $100 million to support those served by the child welfare system. Funding will support foster parents and caregivers, community-based services, local prevention grants, and additional family navigators to connect high risk families and children to resources and supports through collaboration with front line child protective investigators.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget includes an additional $76 million for hospitals that care for acutely ill newborns and pediatric patients.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget provides more than $625 million in funding to support a comprehensive array of behavioral health services. More than $385 million is included in the budget to support prevention and treatment services to respond to the opioid epidemic. This funding will increase access to medication assisted treatment, recovery support and will continue research and surveillance activities that seek to reduce overdoses, unemployment, and the incidence of hospitalization and homelessness. Of this funding, $187 million is supported by proceeds from the Opioid Settlement Agreement.

 

The Framework for Freedom Budget includes investments in the health of the state’s most vulnerable populations, including:

 

  • $1.5 million to provide services for victims of human trafficking, including individualized clinical treatment and behavioral supports.
  • An additional $9 million to expand services provided by the 17 Memory Disorder Clinics and the Brain Bus to enhance diagnosis and prevention strategies for those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias.
  • $79.6 million in funding is provided to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to serve additional individuals with disabilities.

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Originally published at https://www.flgov.com/2023/06/15/governor-ron-desantis-signs-framework-for-freedom-budget/

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