On Wednesday, February 1st, Governor Ron DeSantis released his recommended budget for the State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2023 – 24. The Governor’s recommended state budget serves as an important starting point for both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate as they begin work on developing their own proposed state budgets. The Florida Legislature is constitutionally required to pass a state budget, officially titled as the General Appropriations Act, during the annual regular session.
The Governor’s Budget Recommendations for SFY 2023-24 total approximately $114.8 billion, which represents a 2.39% increase from the 2022 General Appropriations Act, the current state budget for SFY 2022-23.
The chart below summarizes a comparison of the 2022 General Appropriations Act passed during the 2022 Legislative session and the Governor’s Budget Recommendations for SFY 2023-24.
Health and Human Services received the largest portion of the proposed budget, totaling approximately $47.6 billion; a 2.76% decrease from the current year. All educational programs and services combined received the next largest portion of the proposal, totaling approximately $30.4 billion; an increase of approximately 3.99% from the current fiscal year.
Natural Resources, Environmental Issues, Growth Management and Transportation Expenditures represent the third largest portion of the proposed SFY 2023-24 budget with funding equaling $21.3 billion, which represents a 9.88% increase from the current fiscal year.
Proposed general revenue expenditures for SFY 2022-23 equal approximately $42.4 billion and trust fund expenditures total approximately $72.3 billion. The chart below compares expenditures between SFY 2022-23 GAA and the Governor’s proposed SFY 2023-24 budget by fund type.
COUNTY FUNDING HIGHLIGHTS
Natural Resources, Environment, Growth & Transportation
Agricultural & Environment
Water Quality Highlights
- Septic-to-Sewer Improvements: $200 million provided wastewater grant program for projects to construct, upgrade or expand wastewater facilities, to provide advanced wastewater treatment and to convert from septic to sewer, as established in section 403.0673, F.S.
- Water Quality Improvement Grant Program: $50 million recommended for reductions in harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries.
- Total Maximum Daily Loads: $50 million recommended for Total Maximum Daily Loads and to accelerate the implementation of nutrient pollution reduction projects in Basin Management Action Plan and other restoration plans, including green infrastructure and land acquisition projects. This item is in line with the Blue-Green Algae Task Force consensus findings.
- Harmful Algal Blooms: $65 million to improve water quality and combat the effects and impacts of harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae and red tide. The Framework for Freedom Budget includes the following:
- $10 million for innovative technologies and short-term solutions to aid in the prevention, cleanup and mitigation of harmful algal blooms.
- $10.8 million to increase water quality monitoring, support the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, and to maintain and improve the water quality public information portal.
- $30 million for harmful algal blooms mitigation to implement water quality treatment technologies to combat harmful algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee
- $10 million to assist county governments with their responses to emergency conditions associated with harmful algal blooms and red tide events that may impact public health, Florida’s environment and fragile ecosystems, including beaches and wildlife.
- $4.2 million in funding for continued support of research activities conducted by the Center for Red Tide Research.
- Springs Restoration: $50 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for springs restoration projects and land acquisitions to protect springs.
- Alternative Water Supply Grant Program $50 million to help communities plan for and implement vital conservation, reuse and other alternative water supply projects
Florida Forever: $75 million recommended for land acquisition, $15 million for Florida Communities Trust, and $10 million for Florida Recreation Development Assistance Grants.
Beach Management Funding Assistance Program: $50 million for grants and aids to local governments and non-state entities for beach management assistance. Additionally, the Governor $106 million for Hurricanes Ian and Nicole beach erosion recovery projects to fully fund DEP’s Hurricanes Ian and Nicole Recovery Plan for Florida’s Beach and Dune Systems
Resilient Florida program: The Governor’s Budget Recommendations direct $406 million for resiliency, including $350 million for implementation of statewide resilience projects for the Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan, years one through three and $56 million for resiliency planning and coral reef protection
Mosquito control programs: $2.66 million, which is equal to the current year funding level.
Piney Point – There is $85 million appropriated to the department of Environmental protection to continue the stabilization, water treatment, and closure of the Piney Point facility.
Transportation and Economic Development
- State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program: Recommending $281 million.
- State Apartment Incentive Loan Program (SAIL): Recommending approximately $121.7 million.
- Hometown Heroes Housing Program: $100 million makes homeownership affordable for eligible frontline community workers such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators, healthcare professionals, childcare employees, and active military or veterans.
Job Growth Grant Fund: Recommends $100 million to support workforce and infrastructure projects across the state.
Visit Florida: $100 million recommended.
Small County Outreach Program (SCOP): $94 million recommended; a $5.6 million decrease over the current year funding.
Small County Road Assistance Program (SCRAP): $28.5 million recommended; a nearly $2.9 million decrease over the current year funding.
Rural Economic Development:
- Broadband: $100 million for Florida’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program (BEAD), which funds broadband Internet planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption activities with a goal of providing high-speed, reliable broadband Internet service access to all Florida communities.
- Digital Equity Grant Programs: $12.9 million for the Digital Capacity grant to help support Local Technology Planning Teams for broadband Internet and public awareness for digital literacy efforts.
- Rural Infrastructure Fund: $30 million to support local rural infrastructure projects such as broadband, roads, storm and wastewater systems, and telecommunications facilities.
Health & Human Services
Shared County/State Juvenile Detention: The proposed budget estimates the counties’ portion of total Shared County/State Juvenile Detention to be $70.4 million.
Community Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services: Funded at approximately $1.3 billion for all programs.
Community Action Treatment (CAT) Teams: $41.6 million, directed to DCF to contract with providers throughout the state for operation of CAT teams, which provide community-based services for children (aged 11 to 21) with mental health and/or substance abuse diagnoses.
Public Safety, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Local Matching Grant Program: $9 million for the program, which supports county programs that serve adults or youth who are in behavioral crisis and at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
Crime Labs: Approximately $69 million in grants and aids to local governments for criminal investigations.
Homeless Programs Challenge Grants: Approximately $19 million respectively, to DCF for challenge grants, which are awarded to lead agencies of homeless assistance continuums of care. support the Challenge and Homeless Housing Assistance Grants to provide rapid rehousing and homelessness prevention to vulnerable populations.
Library Grants and Library Cooperatives: $21.5 million recommended.
Fiscally Constrained County Funding: $58.3 million, to offset the impacts of previously approved constitutional amendments.
Emergency Distributions: $31.2 million in emergency distribution revenue sharing for small counties.
Cybersecurity: $45 million local government cybersecurity technical assistance grants.
Implementing & Conforming Bills
Appropriations Implementing and Conforming Bills make certain changes to substantive law in order to implement the proposed General Appropriations Act.
Implementing and Conforming Bill issues include:
The Governor’s Framework for Freedom Budget includes an additional $1.5 billion in tax cuts, including:
A permanent sales tax exemption for baby and toddler necessities: $138.7 million –
A permanent sales tax exemption for cribs and strollers: $3.9 million
A permanent sales tax exemption on gas stoves: $7 million
A permanent sales tax exemption for over-the-counter pet medications: $33.6 million
1-year sales tax exemption for cosmetic and toiletries: $72 million
1-year sales tax exemption for dental and oral hygiene products: $45.3 million
1-year sales tax exemption on children’s books: $17.3 million
1-year sales tax exemption on children’s toys: $132.7 million
1-year sales tax exemption on children’s athletic equipment: $42.5 million
1-year sales tax exemption on household items under $25: $138 million
Two Back-to-School sales tax holidays, one in the fall and one in the spring as students return to school from winter break: $210 million –
14-day Disaster Preparedness sales tax holiday: $27.1 million
15-week Freedom Summer sales tax holiday: $224 million
1-year sales tax exemption on pet foods: $170.2 million
7-day Skilled Worker Tool sales tax holiday: $13 million
1-year sales tax exemption on ENERGY STAR appliances: $82.4 million
Two-year extension for the exemption on natural gas fuel tax: $1.2 million Natural gas fuel is any liquefied petroleum gas product used in a motor vehicle.
Florida Retirement System
Governor DeSantis recommends increasing the employer contribution for employee FRS Investment accounts by an additional three percent of the member’s salary. When combined with the three percent increase provided in the current year, the six percent increase will provide members with more financial security upon retirement.
Furthermore, the Governor recommends increasing the pension benefits of retired FRS members by four percent to mitigate the loss of purchasing power faced by these former employees as a result of the recent inflationary surge due to the Biden Administration’s disastrous economic policies.
Pension Unfunded Liability – Based on the reduction of the investment return assumption from 6.8 percent to 6.7 percent by the FRS Actuarial Assumptions Estimating Conference on October 20, 2022, the unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) of the Florida Retirement System (FRS) Defined Benefit Program, known as the state’s pension program, amounted to $38.3 billion on June 30, 2022. Based on an actuarial liability of $217.4 billion and an actuarial value of assets of $179.2 billion, the program is 82.4 percent funded as of June 30, 2022.
The Governor’s Framework for Freedom Budget fully funds the required employer contributions to ensure the long term solvency of retirement benefits our state employees, particularly our law enforcement officers and teachers, rely on.
- $6.9 billion in unallocated General Revenue
- $3.4 billion in the Budget Stabilization Fund
- $2.4 billion in unallocated Trust Funds
- $1.0 billion in the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund
- $1.0 billion in the State Investment Fund
- $1.0 billion in the Florida Optional Reinsurance Assistance Program
- $15.7 billion in Total Reserves
Governor DeSantis released a conforming bill on Rural Development. The conforming makes several changes to rural economic development grant programs including:
- Removes the 25% grant match requirement for the Regional Rural Development Grants Program from regional economic development organizations.
- Removes requirement for demonstration of local government financial aid or in-kind commitment to regional organizations
- Removes local match requirements for the Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Fund
- Increases Rural Infrastructure Fund grant awards to 100% of the total cost of the project if located within a rural community as defined in s. 288.0656(2)(e) or a rural area of opportunity as defined in s. 288.0656(2)(d), and is also located in a fiscally constrained county as defined in s. 218.67(1), or grant awards to 75% from 50% of the total infrastructure cost.
- Increases Rural Infrastructure grant awards for feasibility studies, design and engineering activities, or other infrastructure planning and preparation activities to $300,000
- Removes local match requirements for Rural Infrastructure Fund projects.
Prohibited Use of State Funds
- Provides a prohibition of using state funds for covered entities, which include counties:
- Covered entities may not expend state funds, either directly or through a contract, grant, or agreement that provides services related to any of the following:
- (a) Diversity, Equity, or Inclusion programming or services, including Critical Race Theory.
- (b) Any services intended to support efforts related to increase environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)
FRS Contribution Rates:
The Governor recommended the following employer contribution rates for the Florida Retirement System (FRS):