As Congress continues to consider ways to waste taxpayer dollars, Florida is focused on greater prosperity for all Floridians. Governor Ron DeSantis’ first Freedom First budget would secure a better future in five key ways.
First, tax breaks: While Americans continue to pay more for gas, groceries and other living expenses, the proposed budget spends almost $ 1.2 billion in tax cuts. This includes a 25-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax holiday, fee reductions, and three separate sales tax holidays.
Second, Economic Freedom and Prosperity: Floridians thrive when the government breaks down barriers and makes strategic investments for the future. The governor’s budget increases resources for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, Rural Infrastructure Fund, Florida tourism efforts and others, which will lay the foundation for a stronger economy. Coupled with investments in housing, transportation and more, it will further bolster Florida’s already rapid economic growth.
Third, fiscal responsibility: over $ 15 billion in state reserve funds will continue the state’s tradition of living within its means. The budget also includes much-needed reforms to the state pension system that align investment assumptions with reality and accelerate the repayment of unfunded liabilities. These common sense changes will increase state contributions to pay off unfunded liabilities by $ 176 million per year.
Fourth, a cleaner climate: The budget allocates an additional $ 660 million to restore the Everglades, bringing the four-year investment to $ 3 billion. Coupled with millions of credits for water quality projects, tackling blue-green algae, tackling the red tide, and more, this budget is a monumental step in keeping Florida’s climate clean. and preserve our precious natural resources.
Hand in hand with a clean state is a healthy state. Florida has led the nation to expand access to telehealth, offering innovative options such as association health plans and short-term plans, and providing greater transparency in health care pricing. Since Governor DeSantis took office, Florida health insurance premiums in the personal market have declined. The new budget continues to lay the foundation for a free market in health care by investing in the most vulnerable, including Floridians in need of help with behavioral health, opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, military-related disabilities and mental health issues. Covering more healthcare solutions for truly needy Floridians while enabling innovation to lower costs is a model more states should emulate.
The budget also ensures Florida’s public safety. The governor is proposing to increase the salaries of public security personnel in all areas by 20-25% and add a signing bonus of $ 5,000 for new law enforcement officers. These efforts would be in addition to upgrading the state’s corrections system, strengthening cybersecurity protections, and supporting other state employees who play a vital role in keeping Florida safe.
Finally, the proposed expenditure plan aims to build the best education system in the country. Florida has long been one of the best states for education, in no small part due to its emphasis on choice of school and investment in the needs of students. The budget advances these priorities by increasing K-12 teacher salaries and retention bonuses, targeting at-risk children, prioritizing school safety and better aligning our education system on the needs of our 21st century workforce.
Florida has already advanced its higher education system by increasing tuition exemptions and giving discounts for courses in STEM fields and other essential programs. The governor’s plan would build on these efforts by limiting tuition fees at Florida state colleges and universities, fully funding the Bright Futures scholarship, and strengthening the workforce training programs of the state.
These critical areas â tax relief, economic growth, fiscal responsibility, environmental conservation, public health and safety, and education â represent the most pressing issues facing our state. These are the building blocks of the governor’s proposed spending plan, which would continue to make Florida the best state in the country to live, work, raise a family, retire and visit. Governor DeSantis’ budget represents a long term vision for our state that will move all Floridians forward, which is exactly what we need.
Hayden Dublois is a senior research analyst at the Foundation for Government Accountability. He lives on Marco Island.