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DeSantis signs $116.5B state budget into law

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(The Center Square) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the state budget during a news conference in Tampa on Wednesday.

The state budget, House Bill 5001, comes with a price tag of $116.5 billion but is less than what was allocated in the fiscal 2023-2024 budget. DeSantis said the bottom line is providing historic support for education, conservation efforts, transportation and infrastructure along with significant tax relief.

“We are proud to maintain a AAA credit rating,” DeSantis said. “Florida is rated higher than the federal government and we’re going to continue to keep it that way…Since taking office, largely because we’ve been prudent and we’ve been fiscally responsible.”

DeSantis noted that Florida has the lowest debt-per-capita than any other state and added that it was important to keep spending in check and one way he did that was by using his line-item veto authority.

The two-term Republican governor used his line-item veto pen to slash $949.6 million in spending from this year’s budget.

“We did close to a billion dollars worth of line-item vetos and part of that is just a reflection of we wanted to keep the budget within a certain parameter, some of the stuff I don’t think was appropriate for state tax dollars,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis pointed out that he has no issue vetoing unnecessary appropriations because he wants to prioritize paying down state debt, having large surpluses and growing the “rainy day fund.”

“So, less spending than last year, record investments, this is the most we’ve ever spent for transportation and infrastructure, for building roads, for doing all the things that we need to do,” DeSantis said.

Since 2019, the state has provided over $6 billion in tax relief for Florida businesses and residents despite not having a state income tax. DeSantis noted this is because Florida has the best policies and added that job growth in the private sector has increased by almost 250,000 jobs from April 2023 to the present.

DeSantis noted that his administration is responsible for the largest amount of money ever provided for education, which includes scholarship programs and public universities. Environmental restoration and stewardship have also been top priorities for the Legislature.

“This budget will include $1.25 billion that can only be used to increase teacher salaries,” DeSantis said. “No money to unions, no money to bureaucracy, only for teacher salary and that is more than the state of Florida has ever done.”

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