Lawmakers have apportioned $175 million statewide

A legislative panel on Friday approved funds for more than 230 local projects and programs across the state, after receiving a detailed analysis of Florida’s fiscal situation from a top economist.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, with little comment, approved a list of “local support grants” totaling $175 million. The grants are a new program, with the list set after Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed parts of a state budget that went into effect July 1.

“I think as you see cost overruns and stuff, as inflation affects these (organizations) nonprofits…after the fiscal year ended and the new one started, people saw that there were opportunities within their communities that perhaps needed them. help,” House Appropriations Chairman Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, said after Friday’s meeting.

Approved spending ranged from $15 million to build a facility to house the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation program at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg to $1,250 for the Hope Haven transitional housing program. can buy three air conditioning units. for rooms used to help homeless families in Highlands County.

Trumbull said the items on the list are intended to help local governments, educational entities or private programs that support local initiatives. He said none were “identical in quantity or purpose to the articles DeSantis vetoed.”

The list, however, included some proposals that looked like vetoed budget items.

In one instance, DeSantis vetoed $447,090 for the Li’l Abner Foundation of Miami-Dade County to expand into a second location. On Friday, lawmakers approved spending $400,000 on the foundation’s after-school program.

In another example, lawmakers approved a $250,000 award to Boca Raton for emergency generators. DeSantis vetoed $1.1 million for emergency generators at City Hall and the Boca Raton Civic Complex.

Money for the new grant program was included in the budget, with lawmakers tying it to funds DeSantis was seeking for $1,000 bonuses for first responders.

Other items in the greater Tampa Bay area that have been approved include:

Republican lawmakers proposed nearly 200 of the spending items on the list. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, made up of members of the House and Senate, has the power to make mid-year spending decisions.

Earlier in Friday’s meeting, Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research. presented an overview of long-term financial projections.

Baker and other economists estimated last month that general government revenue would be $5.3 billion higher than previous forecasts for the current 2022-23 fiscal year and 2023-24 fiscal year.

But Florida’s real estate market could slow as mortgage rates rise and housing affordability concerns mount. Economists predict that revenue generated from taxes on documentary stamps on real estate transactions will decrease by 15.6% in this financial year and by 10.7% in the year 2023-2024.

“It’s already starting to unfold the way we thought it would,” Baker said.

Baker also pointed to mixed signals from the economy, which is affecting expectations of a “soft landing” in an impending recession.

“There’s a growing number of economists, including a major study released yesterday, who say this isn’t going to be a soft landing, the Fed is going to have to take much stronger action than originally expected,” he said. Baker told lawmakers. “And so, there’s a disagreement among economists about where we’re going to end up.”

Florida posted higher-than-expected revenue for more than a year — with $3.85 billion above estimates for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ended June 30. This was driven, at least in part, by increased consumer spending of money saved during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, inflation has pushed up prices, which translates into increased tax revenue.

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