Florida's DeSantis cuts $1B to bring state budget to $116.5B, slightly less than the current plan

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spent more than an hour talking about what is in the $116.5 billion budget he signed Wednesday, but he left out the most important part of the announcement: What was in the nearly $1 billion he vetoed.

Overall, the state spending plan is slightly lower than the current budget and provides 3% raises for state employees and sets aside $1.5 billion that has to be used for teacher raises.

“All in all, I think that this is a budget that shows it can be done,” DeSantis said, saying that the state will fund major programs, provide tax relief, boost emergency savings and still have a lower budget.

But he didn't detail the biggest question budget watchers were anticipating: The cuts. The Legislature approved the budget more than three months ago, and DeSantis has been talking for weeks about what he wasn't going to veto. So the only mystery left when he signed it was what was getting the ax.

“I even had some Republican colleagues text me, saying, ”Did you get a list? Did you get a list? Did you get a list?” said Democrat Sen. Jason Pizzo.

DeSantis' office released the veto list about four hours after the governor began his budget-signing ceremony in Tampa, about a four-hour drive from the Capitol.

The 16 pages of cuts came largely from local projects and lawmaker requests, ranging from as little as $10,500 for a Taylor County public works generator to $80 million for group insurance for the state college system.

In between, there were vetoes denying vehicles to scores of police and fire departments, $6.4 million to provide free menstrual products to public school students, money for local museums and cultural events, and millions to private, non-profit organizations that help the homeless, the hungry, drug addicts and foster children.

In a show of bipartisanship, the budget passed unanimously in the Senate and 105-3 in the House, where a Republican and two Democrats opposed the spending plan.

But on late Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers were still analyzing the cuts. “I have to look at it more closely," Pizzo said.

One thing he did notice was that a lot of local infrastructure projects got chopped.

“As I'm sitting here stuck on a Brightline train because of flooding in my district, all those storm water projects he cut look pretty stupid right now,” Pizzo said.


This version corrects the day of the week to Wednesday.

Associated Press writer Stephany Matat in West Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.