Florida Lawmakers Continue Working on the State Budget as Its Deadline Approaches

Florida lawmakers continue to be in budget conferences reconciling differences between House and Senate budget proposals. So far, numerous agreements and billions of dollars have been agreed upon.

The Florida House approved a $105 billion budget and the Florida Senate approved a $108 billion budget.

Of the most recent agreements, legislators from the Panhandle agreed-upon $28.1 million in infrastructure funding for their region. The largest of the projects is a $5 million sidewalk project for Panama City along a historic stretch of road.

The Panhandle and rural infrastructure funding comes after a string of announcements from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in just the last few months prioritizing infrastructure development for the region even years after the devastation of Hurricane Michael.

Lawmakers have also agreed to continue funding the Open Door Grant Program, a priority for Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor). The program is intended to offer pathways to create and sustain jobs for skilled trade workers. The program will be funded at $35 million.

A scholarship to attract law enforcement officers to Florida also got the green light. It is a $6 million program broken down into $1 million to attract out-of-state cops and $5 million to cover training expenses for certain police cadets.

The priority for the program comes from DeSantis, who has repeatedly called for recruiting and retention of law enforcement. DeSantis initially made an announcement for supporting these policies in August and followed up in September with another announcement.

“At the National FOP Convention, I announced my commitment to recruit and reward high-quality law enforcement officers in Florida through three programs that will be included and prioritized in the upcoming legislative session,” DeSantis said in August.

And in healthcare, a proposal by DeSantis and first lady Casey DeSantis has traction. After initially not receiving a lot of support, the DeSantises’ request to boost state cancer research to $100 million will be met and will likely be named after the Florida first lady.

Casey DeSantis was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2021, and it was just announced yesterday that she is cancer-free after treatments.

The Florida Legislature has to finalize the budget by March 11.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Chris Sprowls” by Chris Sprowls. 



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