The Florida Legislature agreed on a $101.5 billion state budget Tuesday, a figure that was unfathomable a year ago as the economy collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The budget proposal includes $6.7 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money that Republican legislative leaders previously said they wouldn’t rely on. Gov. Ron DeSantis originally proposed a $96.6 billion budget. The Senate’s first proposal was about $95 billion and the House was seeking about $97 billion.
But revenue estimates have exceeded expectations, largely because the state has eliminated restrictions on businesses during the pandemic and tourism has rebounded. And Republican leaders finally decided to include money approved to help states since Democratic President Joe Biden took office, after initially saying they wouldn’t.
“We are certainly in a better place today than when we started our budget planning last summer. Revenue estimates have continued to improve,” Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson said in a news release.
The current state budget is about $92 billion, and state official never expected to add another $9 billion in a chaotic economy caused by the pandemic.