Gov. DeSantis Signs Florida’s ‘Freedom First’ Budget – Tax Cuts, Investing in Education and a $20.81 Billion Surplus

Toby Hazlewood

Will the record-breaking budget benefit everyone?
Governor Ron DeSantisTwitter of GovRonDeSantis

On June 2 Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis finally signed the state's so-called 'Freedom First' budget for 2022 to 2023. Totaling $109.9 billion for the financial year, the budget features a number of significant investments in or related to schools and education in the state, as well as a record $1.24 billion of tax relief for Floridians.

The budget demonstrates to Floridians that while the state and the wider U.S. faces the highest levels of inflation in recent years, and a constantly increasing cost-of-living that is causing many to struggle, at least the state's finances are in order.

In addition to the significant budget, the governor again called attention to the huge budget surplus of over $20 billion that has been built up due to greater-than-expected tax receipts and - in the governor's terms - "fiscal responsibility".

The governor shared the highlights of the budget in a post on Twitter:

A swipe at the Biden administration

During the signing ceremony as he described the highlights of the budget, Gov. DeSantis didn't waste the opportunity to take a swipe at President Biden and his current poor approval rating amongst voters.

After initially referring to the president as "Brandon" (a tongue-in-cheek reference to the "Let's Go Brandon" slogan that has been adopted by certain Republicans as a way of taking a swipe at the president), Governor DeSantis was critical of the federal government's role in producing the current financial crisis that's gripping the nation.

He referenced the president having supposedly 'waged war on' the U.S. energy production industry which he stated has contributed to the record high gas prices being witnessed right now. He also blamed the federal government's lack of fiscal responsibility in having borrowed and printed trillions of dollars which is in large part to blame for the record levels of inflation gripping the U.S. right now.

While the governor might have been accurate in many of his assertions, it seems a shame to some that he had to resort to taking partisan swipes at a time when the positive news of the budget announcement could have been the takeaway message of the day.

A budget to help all (or just some)?

Undoubtedly the budget that the governor signed on June 2 demonstrates a lot of focus on issues that many are concerned about - improving the quality of education (a $24.9 billion investment), better pay and bonuses for police and first responders ($200 billion) and an investment in mental health and school safety ($396 million) will all be well-received.

But some Floridians may be wondering how they'll benefit from the budget and whether more of the $20 billion surplus should be used to help the wider population with stimulus payments (for example). The budget does seem to focus quite heavily on schools, teachers and the police and there seems to be little that will help the average Floridian who needs help paying their bills and putting food on the table to feed their families. Many of the tax cuts too rely on people saving money when they spend - and a lot of people are struggling to find the money to spend in the first place.

Time will tell whether this is a budget that helps everyone, or just a select few in specific professions and stages in their lives.

Do you think the 'Freedom First' budget will benefit you and your family? How would you like to see Florida's budget being used to help you? Let me know in the comments section below.

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