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Published on June 12, 2024
Governor DeSantis Signs $116.5 Billion Budget in Tampa, Trims Spending with $950 Million in VetoesSource: Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis inked a $116.5 billion state budget for the fiscal year 2024-2025 in Tampa, carving out nearly $950 million through line-item vetoes from projects and programs, as reported by the Tallahassee Democrat. DeSantis, during the signing event, claimed accomplishments in multiple sectors while also emphasizing the trimming down of the budget to be slightly below the current-year spending, indicating a fiscal policy aimed at efficiency and controlled government spending.

Among the slashed items, DeSantis eliminated $32 million in arts and cultural grants, stirring up displeasure from affected communities, the list of vetoes was not made public during the news conference but when released later revealed many hometown projects favored by Republican legislators being cut; these details came from a Creative Loafing Tampa report.

The budget highlights, as remarked by Gov. DeSantis, include significant investments in education with $28.4 billion allocated for K-12 schooling, a reported increase of $1.8 billion, including a $1.25 billion provision earmarked directly for teacher salaries, reflecting a $200 million increase from the previous year according to a statement obtained by WLRN; however, this figure was critiqued by the Florida Education Association as insufficient to raise teachers' salaries to the national average, pointing to an approximate monthly paycheck increase of only about $125 for classroom teachers.

Furthermore, investments in infrastructure, with $14.5 billion for the state transportation work program, and substantial funding for healthcare, including $232 million for cancer research were earmarked within the budget, but it was not all increments and expansions as higher-education suffered from vetoed projects such as a $26.2 million research wing at the University of West Florida and $13.5 million training center that could sharpen job skills at Pensacola State College, according to WLRN, and amidst the vetoes, DeSantis praised the targeted budget for doing "more with less" in a 39-page veto letter, asserting that the cut-down provides a lesson for the whole nation on government thrift.

The substantial vetoes, aiming to keep the spending below the current fiscal year's levels, contrast starkly with no tuition hikes at Florida universities during DeSantis's tenure, demonstrating an intricate balancing act between fiscal austerity and educational support, with a nod towards the future by maintaining $173.5 million in funding for Florida’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities—affirming a commitment to a diversified educational funding strategy that looks beyond immediate fiscal constraints.