Florida legislative session promises little drama amid election year spending spree

On Tuesday, the Florida Legislature will begin its annual session with an optimistic speech from Governor Ron DeSantis and the promise of a sharp increase in state government spending, thanks to billions of “biden-bucks” from federal initiatives. relief and COVID infrastructure.

No, the money is not the problem; should be this year’s spending madness.

The state capital of Florida may be inundated with cash, but don’t rely on the governor or the Republican-controlled legislature to think long term to meet some of the most pressing – and continuing needs. – of State. It’s an election year, and with DeSantis and most state lawmakers seeking re-election, generosity is simply good policy.

“What I said was – ‘anyway, I’m going to use it for the state of Florida,’” the governor said last month as he rolled out his budget recommendations.

In his address to state lawmakers, DeSantis will tout his “Freedom First Budget,” a nearly $ 100 billion spending plan that contains enough one-time spending increases to keep voters happy. The legislature that was once proud to rule government spending will not do so this year. What the governor wants, the governor will most likely get.

The proposed budget includes a $ 50 million increase in teacher compensation, a second round of $ 1,000 bonus checks and a large increase in funding per student. Law enforcement will also see increases of between 20% and 25%, as well as bonuses for new police officers. There is money for the environment – $ 660 million for Everglades restoration and a new round of grants to local governments to help stem sea level rise. Social Services in Florida will see an increase of $ 1.2 billion over current spending, and there will be $ 1.8 billion in additional Medicaid funds to make up the difference between program reimbursement rates and actual costs of care.

The governor has obviously saved some money to appeal to those supporters who see him as a lock to his re-election and a viable candidate for a higher post in 2024. There is the billion dollars to offer six months of relief from the gasoline tax to Florida motorists, $ 6 million for a new election security office, though voter fraud was not a problem here. He also wants to spend $ 5.4 million to recreate the state guard that will be under his control, and there is the $ 8 million for a program to protect against illegal immigration issues.

Spending money can get votes, but it does raise some “what if” questions. For example, what if the flow of federal money from Washington to Tallahassee returns to normal? To be sure, the proposed budget meets the needs and the governor has set aside $ 15 billion in reserves. But, given Florida’s still rapid growth and constant needs, is that enough?

Sessions in election years tend to be as uncontroversial as possible. This year is no exception. In terms of spending, 2022 will be a good year, but will future lawmakers regret the day they reverse a legislative session that has turned into a 10-figure spending frenzy?

Election reminder: vote

Suits for Seniors CEO and founder Jervonte Edmonds says his first suit helped improve his self-image and set career goals.

The start of the legislative session isn’t the only thing happening on Tuesday, January 11. Voting is on in Palm Beach County as voters in two predominantly black political districts pick a Democratic candidate to run for Florida House District 88 and ultimately to elect a successor to the late US Representative Alcee L. Hastings in the 20th Congressional District of Florida.

Although the Palm Beach Post has not approved the five contenders running for Congress, the newspaper’s editorial board urges voters to choose Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds as his party candidate to represent State House District 88 – the district which stretches through parts of Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Park, West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Magnolia Park, Lake Worth, Lantana, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach.

Whatever you choose, make your voice count. If you haven’t yet, but can, please vote.

About Mildred B.

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