What to do with so much spare cash?
As Florida's 2022-23 budget was approved, the full extent of its cash surplus has become apparent.
In a Tweet from May 20, Governor Ron DeSantis shared just how much cash has been built up through staying open during the pandemic, managing money responsibly and maintaining a low tax environment - $20 billion!
It's a staggering amount of money, and one that the governor was keen to publicize via his personal Twitter account. Details of the surplus were also discussed at a press event on May 20.
What to do with the money?
Presenting a graph that shows the size of the surplus increasing with every year since the governor took up his position, Gov. DeSantis was quick to point out that these were all state funds that had been accumulated, and that it didn't include any money given by the federal government.
Most Floridians will be more concerned with how the surplus money is used - particularly at a time when so many are struggling with the rising cost of living and the inflation that's gripping the entire nation. The cost of gasoline for example remains at an average price of around $4.50 per gallon even though the global cost of oil has dropped from its recent high.
The governor stated that in addition to $3 billion earmarked for the state's 'rainy day fund', $500 million to respond to disasters and some money to be allocated to various state trust funds. He was keen to point out that the entire surplus still represents the equivalent of 20% of the state's total budget of over $100 billion.
Spending the surplus to help Floridians?
On May 23 the governor announced the 'Hometown Heroes' scheme - $100 million that's intended to help certain groups of public service workers who are struggling to buy their first homes. He suggested that such schemes were made possible by the state's budgetary surplus.
Whilst this group - teachers, veterans and first responders - are deserving of the financial help, many other Floridians will be wondering when it will be their turn to receive financial help from the governor. Teachers and first responders had both already received annual bonus payments from the state government.
A recent set of sales tax holidays and tax breaks was announced by the governor which benefit all, but only when they spend money. The sales tax holiday also appears to be a political tool given that it's timed for just before the gubernatorial election in November. Many need the help now, not in a few months time!
With the governor announcing such a vast sum of surplus money in the state government's budget, many will be hoping to see new and innovative solutions to help the population cope financially in the coming months.
What would you like to see Governor DeSantis do with the surplus money? Do you think financial help reaches all those who need it, or is it biased towards particular groups and professions? Let me know in the comments section below.