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Gov. DeSantis’ Budget Includes Housing, Environment

The budget – a proposal to the Florida Legislature for the 2022 session – includes a number of Florida Realtors’ legislative priorities, such as affordable housing aid.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his Freedom First 2022-23 state budget recommendations on Thursday, and his proposal includes a number of Florida Realtors®’ core legislative priorities, notably affordable housing and environmental goals.

The governor’s budget outlines DeSantis’ priorities heading into the 2022 session of the Florida Legislature. It represents his spending priorities and recommendations for the amount of money he believes should be allocated to the different areas of the state budget, such as education, healthcare, transportation, etc.

Lawmakers aren’t obligated to accept DeSantis’ proposals, but his budget often operates as a roadmap for policies and funding amounts. The governor also has the power to do “line-item vetoes” of final budget items, and it gives lawmakers insight into issues the governor does and does not favor.

“This is a huge, huge budget. This is a huge deal,” DeSantis said during a news conference. “This is something that is going to have very positive effects. We are doing that while remaining the lowest per-capita tax burden in the country.”

Overall, DeSantis’ proposal is about $2 billion less than the current year’s budget, according to his office. His budget would continue to use federal money to fund some key issues, such as a plan to eliminate state gas taxes for five months starting in July. The federal government allocated that money to make up for about $1 billion in lost gas-tax revenue ordinarily used for transportation projects but lost during the pandemic lockdowns.

Affordable housing

Governor DeSantis’ budget provides $40 million to create a revolving loan program that supports workforce homeownership, including down payment and closing cost assistance. His proposed program is similar to the Hometown Hero Housing program Florida Realtors is already working with lawmakers to create next year.

The governor recommends $355.5 million to fully fund the State and Local Government Housing Trust Funds with the following breakdown:

  • $95 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) Program
  • $220.5 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP)

Environment

DeSantis recommends over $980 million for Everglades Restoration and Water Resources Protection. That amount would bring the four-year investment from the DeSantis Administration to over $3 billion, which surpasses the governor’s goal of $2.5 billion set over four years ago.

$660 million for Everglades restoration includes:

  • $86.5 million for Restoration Strategies
  • $372 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)
  • $69 million for the EAA Reservoir
  • $50 million for specific project components designed to achieve the greatest reductions in harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries
  • $83.3 million is included for the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program

$195 million for targeted water quality improvements includes:

  • $125 million for the wastewater grant program
  • $50 million to accelerate projects to meet scientific nutrient reduction goals
  • $20 million for critical infrastructure including wastewater and stormwater projects in Biscayne Bay

$50 million to restore Florida’s springs

$35 million to improve water quality and combat the algal blooms, including blue-green algae and red tide:

  • $15 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
  • $5 million to assist county governments with their responses to emergency biological debris conditions associated with red tide events
  • $4.2 million in funding for continued support of research activities conducted by the Center for Red Tide Research and long-term collaborative partnerships among FWC, the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and Mote Marine Laboratory

$40 million for the alternative water supply grant program to help communities plan for and implement vital conservation, reuse and other alternative water supply projects

$100 million for the stabilization, treatment, and closure of the Piney Point site

$100 million for the Florida Forever Program

Over $550 million for Resilient Florida Program

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