On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his “Framework for Freedom Budget” proposal for Fiscal Year 2023–2024.
The governor’s proposal totals $114.8 billion, up from $112.1 billion in the last fiscal year.
“Florida’s focus on freedom has led us to outpace the nation on all fronts,” said DeSantis. “Through the Framework for Freedom Budget, we are establishing freedom first policies to benefit Florida workers and families and to provide a framework for future prosperity. Florida will fight against federal headwinds by putting forth sound fiscal policies that keep more money in the pockets of Floridians. Our budget proposal not only builds on the successes of the past four years, but ensures that Florida will continue to thrive.”
The governor’s office offered the following information on his budget proposal:
ECONOMIC PROSPERITY FOR HARDWORKING FLORIDIANS
The Framework for Freedom Budget proposes four permanent tax cuts and more than 10 temporary tax cuts to allow hardworking Floridians to keep money in their pockets while facing record-high inflation thanks to the federal government. The tax holidays include:
A permanent sales tax exemption for baby and toddler necessities
A permanent sales tax exemption for cribs and strollers
A permanent sales tax exemption for over-the-counter pet medications
A permanent sales tax exemption for gas stoves
Temporary holidays on children’s books, children’s toys, children’s athletic equipment, certain household items and clothing, disaster preparedness items, outdoor recreation items, dental and oral hygiene products, pet food, hand and power tools, energy star appliances, and natural gas.
Governor DeSantis’ Framework for Freedom Budget continues to support important staff employed by the state, particularly in hard-to-fill positions. State employee pay raises include:
An across-the-board 5 percent pay increase for all state employees.
An additional 10 percent increase over the statewide average for certain “hard-to-hire” positions of importance for state government.
An increase for correctional officers to $23 per hour.
In 2022, Florida experienced record economic growth. In December, Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.5%, a historic low last reached in October 2006. Florida’s unemployment rate has remained lower than the national rate for 25 consectutive months
Florida’s unemployment rate in December 2022 was 2.5 percent, a full percentage point less than the national unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.
Florida’s private sector employment increased by 425,800 jobs from December 2021 to December 2022, a growth rate of 5.3 percent and a full two percentage points higher than the national growth rate of 3.3 percent. As of December 2022, Florida employers have added jobs for 32 consecutive months, and Florida’s private sector over-the-year job growth rate has exceeded the nation’s for 21 consecutive months.
In 2022, Florida experienced the largest percentage increase in net population migration, ranking as the fastest growing state in the nation at a rate of 1.9 percent. Domestic migration accounted for 318,855 of Florida’s net migration total, also the largest gain of any state.
It is more important than ever to maintain our state’s economic momentum through targeted investments in programs that support the creation of good jobs for Floridians and promote key Florida industries like tourism. The Framework for Freedom Budget provides substantial funding for such initiatives, including:
$100 million for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which supports additional economic growth in Florida by providing local areas with funding for proposed public infrastructure and workforce training projects.
$100 million to continue the vital state marketing and promotion efforts of VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation and a source of travel planning for visitors across the globe.
Building opportunities for economic growth in Florida’s rural communities plays an important role in creating lasting economic opportunities for all Floridians. The Framework for Freedom Budget continues the state’s ongoing commitment to funding projects that will benefit Floridians in rural areas across the state:
$100 million to support broadband initiatives to expand high-speed internet deployment and access to Florida communities.
$30 million for the Rural Infrastructure Fund to support projects such as roads, storm and wastewater systems, and telecommunications facilities.
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 5 straight years. Governor DeSantis’ recommendations continue to ensure high quality education choices for all students and support teachers to ensure they have the tools they need to prepare Florida students for future success. Key investments include:
$1 billion, an increase of $200 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 $451 million for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK).
Historic $26 billion in funding, of which $14.1 billion is record state funding for the K-12 public school system.
$1.5 billion in state operating funding for the Florida College System.
$3.1 billion in state operating funding for the State University System.
$100 million for the recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty at state universities.
$15 million for the institutional overhaul and restructuring of the New College of Florida.
$1 million is maintained to continue expanding the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, which creates and enhances existing speech and debate programs with a focus on civic education. The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative is currently active in 54 Florida school districts, with 243 participating schools.
In addition, the Framework for Freedom Budget includes $3.5 million in funding to provide support to school districts for the improvement of civic literacy for Florida’s students using regional civics literacy captains and coaches, and $3 million for civics education curriculum.
The Framework for Freedom Budget does not include any tuition or fee increases for Florida’s colleges and universities. Our students and families should not face any additional financial burdens 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 $5 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 over $624 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.
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 this investment, by dedicating more than $1.1 billion.
Governor DeSantis has recommended more than $614 million for Everglades restoration projects, including:
$58 million for Restoration Strategies.
$182.2 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
$86.3 million for the C-43 West Basin Reservoir Storage Project.
$152 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.
$86.1 million is included for the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program.
The Framework for Freedom Budget also includes $370 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 $65 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 up to $3.4 million for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove pythons from the Everglades.
The Framework for Freedom Budget includes more than $2.7 billion for Florida’s agricultural industry. To preserve Florida’s iconic citrus industry, the budget invests $29.4 million for citrus research, the Citrus Health Response Program, and for consumer awareness marketing efforts.
Additional investments in Florida’s environment include $11.5 million for wildfire suppression equipment and $4.9 million for road and bridge maintenance to allow for better access for land management and wildfire suppression activities.
INVESTING IN FLORIDA’S INFRASTRUCTURE
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 includes $14.7 billion for the Florida Department of Transportation to retain current employees and supports the creation of more than 244,000 jobs. Every dollar invested in transportation is estimated to result in a return of up to $4 in user and economic benefits to Florida’s residents and businesses.
Of this total, $13.4 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.
$12 million is recommended to continue implementation of the Governor’s initiative to protect Floridians against the harms resulting from illegal immigration by facilitating the transport of unauthorized aliens from any point of origin in the U.S. to any jurisdiction.
Governor DeSantis has always recognized the importance of recommending significant resources in the state budget for affordable homes and apartments, providing Floridians with options for safe and decent housing. The Framework for Freedom Budget provides $402.7 million to fully fund the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds:
$121.7 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) Program.
$281 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP).
The Framework for Freedom Budget also provides $100 million for the second year of the Hometown Heroes Housing Program. This program makes homeownership affordable for eligible frontline community workers such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans.
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 law enforcement and correctional officers, enhancing law enforcement and correctional officer safety, and combatting the flow of fentanyl into Florida from the southern border.
The Governor reccomends $124.3 million to provide salary increases across various public safety agencies, including:
$107.2 million to increase the Department of Corrections’ (FDC) base rate of pay to $23 per hour for specified Correctional Officer, Correctional Probation Officer, and Inspector positions;
$1.8 million to provide a four percent increase to Special Agents and Law Enforcement positions within the Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE);
$6.8 million for special pay adjustments based on salary ranges for all sworn law enforcement officers within FDLE, Department of Legal Affairs (DLA), State Attorneys, and State Courts (SCS); and
$8.5 million for an increase for years of service for sworn law enforcement officers within FDLE, DLA, State Attorneys, and SCS.
In addition to the five percent pay increase provided to all state employees, $3.4 million will provide a targeted retention pay plan for Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and the Inspectors. This funding aims to increase retention rates by providing a $1,000 pay increase at two years of service, a $500 pay increase at five years of service, and a $1,000 pay increase at eight years of service.
$30 million is included to 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 Boarder. The Framework for Freedom Budget reccomends $20.7 million to support law enforcement efforts to combat the opioid epidemic affecting Florida’s communities.
The Framework for Freedom Budget includes $2 million for FDLE to provide body armor to local law enforcement agencies, with a focus on agencies within fiscally constrained counties.
$2.1 billion in federal and state funding is provided so that communities and the state can respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies as well as mitigate against future disasters or emergencies.
REMAINING THE MOST MILLITARY & VETERAN FRIENDLY STATE IN THE NATION
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 $98 million to grow the Florida State Guard, a civilian volunteer force, to aid during emergencies.
The Framework for Freedom Budget includes $9.2 million for the following initiatives:
$6.2 million to fully support Florida National guardsmen seeking higher education degrees and to expand the program to allow a guardsman to transfer their unused education benefit to a spouse or child.
$2 million to give a one-time $1,000 bonus to guardsmen who renew their contract.
$1 million to give $1,000 bonuses to guardsmen who recruit new members into the Florida National Guard.
The Framework for Freedom Budget invests $14.7 million to support nursing home residents, medical and non-medical equipment upgrades, capital improvements, and the remainder of the staff needed for the Ardie R. Copas and Alwyn Cashe State Veterans’ Nursing Homes.
The budget also continues a more than $2 million investment to assist veterans in training, networking, and mentoring throughout the state.
BUILDING A ROBUST PUBLIC HEALTH NETWORK
Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis have pushed 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 $166 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 nearly $143 million to enhance services for pregnant and postpartum women and children. This funding also includes $3.8 million to support premiums for families who receive services through the Florida Healthy Kids program and were impacted by Hurricane Ian.
The Framework for Freedom Budget includes more than $96 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 more than $76 million for hospitals that provide in-patient services for acutely ill newborns and pediatric patients.
The Framework for Freedom Budget provides more than $531 million in funding to support a comprehensive array of behavioral health services.
$334 million is recommended to increase access to treatment such as prevention services, medication assisted treatment, recovery support and continues research, and surveillance activities that seek to reduce overdoses, unemployment, and the incidence of hospitalization and homelessness.
The Framework for Freedom Budget also includes $147.4 million from the Opioid Settlement.
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, behavioral supports such as cognitive behavioral treatment, and motivational interviewing.
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.
More than $79.6 million in funding to allow an additional 1,200 individuals in crisis to be served through the Agency for Persons with Disabilities waiver program.
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