NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (FNN) – In a press conference from New Smyrna Beach, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the state’s budget for the fiscal year 2021 into law, a total of $9.5 billion in reserve.
“[This] was supposed to be a really, really big disaster year for Florida in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic,” DeSantis said. “I’m happy to say that those predictions were wrong, and I’m happy to report that we will be signing a budget that protects our seniors, our K-12 students, and teachers, and conserves and protects our great environmental resources, and does so in a way that has the lowest tax burden in any state.”
The total amount does not include an additional $500 million in federal money to be granted later in June, so the total budget would grow to $10 billion.
DeSantis said that the budget was possible because “we’ve had good stewards that have spent conservatively, and kept schools open, businesses open, people with the right to work.”
“You had other states that were locking people up, we were freeing people up,” he added. “We were sort of the West Berlin for people in other states trying to escape the insanity. Look at Canada, some of these countries in Europe are still chafing from these lockdowns.”
The budget includes $1,000 in bonuses for teachers in the state and $120 million for mental health treatment, $20 million more than in 2020, plus an additional $5 million for mental health in-school training and $127.6 million in community mental wellness programs.
“Whatever mental issues we may have because of the COVID pandemic, they would have been ten times worse had we been in lockdown for a year,” he said. “When you try to isolate people for months on end, that is not natural, that exacerbates social issues that have always been there.”
The budget also adds $650 million for Everglades restoration projects. DeSantis promised $2.5 billion during the duration of his term when he was running.
There is also $55 million for disaster prevention, $100 million for beach restorations, and $70 million for the job growth grant fund.
DeSantis vetoed $1.5 billion dollars in federal money that would be going to the new emergency fund. “The problem is that between when I called for it and now, the federal government issued guidance of how you would use it. In an emergency, you don’t have time to go through all that bureaucracy. Most importantly they said that we couldn’t be able to use it to build an emergency fund. The federal government hurts states like Florida and helps states that were in lockdown and high unemployment.”
Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment writer for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org