The Florida legislature’s $115B spending proposal is receiving some pushback from Democrats
Democratic lawmakers expressed concerns about the budget not including enough money for state prisons, agriculture, and rural development projects.
The Florida House and Senate spending plans top $115 billion for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. That’s about $4 billion less than the current budget, of $119 billion. But Republican House Speaker Paul Renner told reporters last Thursday, that’s not entirely a bad thing.
Renner said the legislature needs to cut back on unnecessary spending now that the federal government is pulling back on pandemic stimulus dollars. He also said the state is expecting less revenue in upcoming years.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going into deficit, but the growth in revenues is slowing significantly," said Renner. "If you look at where spending is, at some point in the future those lines are going to cross.”
Several Democrats voted against the House’s spending proposal
Orlando Rep. Bruce Antone said last Thursday the proposal would strike out most of the funding earmarked for members of the Democratic Black Caucus. He also worries his district won’t have enough money to move forward with certain infrastructure projects.
“I can’t even start up the bulldozer with that," said Antone.
St. Petersburg Rep. Lindsay Cross said while there are a lot of good things in this year’s proposal, she still urged lawmakers to consider setting more money aside for agricultural and land preservation programs in Florida.
This proposal is .1% of our budget in a state that continues to grow by upwards of 1,000 people a day. If Floridians want clean water, greater access to parks, and healthy wildlife, this math doesn’t add up. #conservation #water #floridaforever https://t.co/1X7BXp73z8— Rep. Lindsay Cross (@LindsayCrossFL) December 6, 2023
“We’re seeing a 66% decrease in that funding from last year and we’re quite far off from where the Senate is.”
House Democrats closed out their opposition with Tampa state Rep. Dianne Hart. She blasted her Republican colleagues, for not putting more money into the state’s crumbling prisons.
"We just give them $7 billion and say go way and spend it however you like," said Hart.
Rep. Hart noted some of the state facilities do not have air conditioning.
“The fact that we don’t identify some of the things we know are needed. How could we not earmark air conditioning in this budget and require it."
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate must work to settle on the state’s final spending plan in early March.