While the budget will be official once the governor signs it into law, a special session to address issues related to COVID-19 cannot be ruled out.

COVID-19 Advocacy and Public Policy Update: Passage of the State Budget

The 2020-2021 Florida budget was approved by the legislature and includes funding and resources necessary to address the COVID-19 crisis in the state. Lawmakers worked with Governor Ron DeSantis to direct $52.5 million in state and federal dollars to purchase necessities related to COVID-19. It also directs an additional $300 million into state reserves. State reserve funds can be utilized when the Governor has declared a state of emergency in order to provide immediate resources to combat the economic fallout of a natural disaster, health epidemic, or any other state emergency. This additional enhancement brings our total state reserves to a state record of nearly $4 billion.

The 2020-21 budget includes $500 million for school districts to work towards the Governor’s goal of increasing minimum salaries of classroom teachers to $47,500 and to increase salaries for other instructional personnel. The budget also invests $370 million to fully fund the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Additionally, Senate Bill 7018: Essential State Infrastructure, includes provisions for the design and construction of permanent Staging Areas for Emergencies (SAFE) as part of Florida’s Turnpike System. The staging areas created through this legislation will be designed to accommodate the staging of a significant amount of emergency-related supplies and equipment; provide space in support of emergency preparedness and evacuation activities, such as fuel reserve capacity; and could be used during non-emergency periods for commercial motor vehicle parking.

House Bill 641: Funds for the Operation of Schools, provides $500 million to increase teacher salaries. Of these funds, $400 million must be used to increase the minimum salaries of classroom teachers to at least $47,500, or to the maximum amount achievable, and $100 million is allocated to increase salaries for other instructional personnel who also play a pivotal role in our students’ success.

While this budget will be official once the governor signs it into law, Speaker Oliva, President Galvano and Governor DeSantis have all acknowledged that the situation with the coronavirus is fluid and that they may have to reassess funds once we have a clearer picture of how extensive of an impact the coronavirus has on our state revenue. A special session to address these issues cannot be ruled out.

If, in fact, there is a special session to address additional spending needed to address COVID-19, the legislature will have to consider where to pull those dollars. Areas that may be impacted include affordable housing, transportation, K-12 education and university funding. An early guess is that teacher pay increases will remain in place. While our needs are unknown at this point, it would not be surprising to see the legislature make adjustments to direct further spending to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

For detailed information and resources for your business’ response to COVID-19, please visit Online Business Resource Center at Orlando.org/covid19