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Not so fast: DeSantis warns of cuts to Florida's record $112.1 billion budget

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces that he will ask the legislature for $25 million to renovate the Freedom Tower, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Miami. The building built in 1925 to house the now defunct Miami News was used as the Cuban Assistance Center to assist Cuban migrants fleeing the Castro regime during the Cold War era. To the right is Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez.
Marta Lavandier
/
AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces that he will ask the legislature for $25 million to renovate the Freedom Tower, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Miami. The building built in 1925 to house the now defunct Miami News was used as the Cuban Assistance Center to assist Cuban migrants fleeing the Castro regime during the Cold War era. To the right is Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said the $112.1 billion budget approved Monday by the Legislature might be too generous in some areas and people celebrating getting projects in the spending plan should refrain from “any irrational exuberance.”

Still, he made clear one of the hundreds of local projects pushed by lawmakers won’t draw a veto.

During an event Wednesday at the City of Hialeah Educational Academy, DeSantis said the school doesn’t have to worry he will nix $2.9 million that Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, and Rep. Tom Fabricio, R-Miramar, helped get into the budget to expand the academy’s “career pathways” program..

“All right, so I hereby approve $2.9 million right here,” DeSantis said. “So, that'll be in there when we sign the budget.”

Otherwise, DeSantis said he expects to make cuts throughout the record budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1. The Legislature has not formally sent the budget to DeSantis.

Without getting specific, DeSantis implied that House and Senate budget negotiators might have agreed to certain spending sought by the other side in the talks with the hope “the governor would come in and maybe save the day on some of this stuff.”

“We're fortunate because our economy has been very strong,” DeSantis said. “We have booming revenues. And so, they've had an ability to put maybe more in the budget. And if it's something that's good, like (the Hialeah academy), I said I’ll approve it. There are some things that are probably going to be a bridge too far.”

DeSantis’ vetoes have increased since he first took office in 2019, when he cut $131 million from a budget totaling $90.98 billion. A year later, as a hedge against potential impacts to the state’s revenue and spending in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, DeSantis slashed $1 billion from a $92.2 billion budget.

In 2021, the vetoes totaled $1.5 billion from a budget topping $100 billion. DeSantis removed about 150 line items pitched by individual lawmakers out of about 700 included in the budget. But the vast majority of money vetoed was $1 billion in federal dollars that would have gone to a new emergency fund in the governor’s office.

That veto came after concerns were raised about using federal stimulus money for the fund. During this year’s session, lawmakers passed — and DeSantis has already signed — a similar fund totaling $500 million. The money is coming from state general revenue.

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