JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s proposed $91.1 billion budget has reached the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, but it’s highly likely the budget will shrink by the time he’s done with it.
On Friday, DeSantis said he’s had a chance to review most of the items in the budget. And following its passage last month, the governor made no secret of his plans to use his veto powers.
The real question is, how much will the governor cut?
"I have some outstanding questions," DeSantis told reporters. "We’ll resolve those pretty quickly."
Florida TaxWatch, a watchdog group, has already identified $133 million in projects that are ripe for the chopping block. They're commonly known as “turkeys" because they weren't heavily screened before lawmakers tacked them onto the budget
Among the line items the organization recommends cutting is an $8 million affordable housing project in Jacksonville’s Urban Core. Beyond that, it’s unclear which local projects are safe.
Nearly $947 million of the $91.1 billion budget would be spent across Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties, with almost three-quarters of that funding destined for Jacksonville.
Under the proposed budget, $696,420,372 is allocated for projects in Duval. The biggest ticket items are roughly $144 million in funding for the University of North Florida and $131 million for I-10 construction. Another $66 million would be spent on Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Road projects would soak up the majority of the approximately $124 million set aside for St. Johns County. Over $33 million would be spent on resurfacing Interstate 95, $18 million more would go to repaving U.S. 1 and almost $12 million acquiring land for right-of-way along I-95.
The story is the same in Clay County, where nearly $55 million is allocated to buy up land for right-of-way for the First Coast Expressway from U.S. 17 to Blanding Boulevard. An additional $17 million would fund construction along Blanding between County Road 218 to Black Creek.
While significant amounts of the $18.7 million set aside for Nassau County would go toward roadwork and educational purposes, the biggest ticket item by far is $7.5 million for beach nourishment on the south end of Amelia Island.
DeSantis has until June 29 to approve the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, but he said Friday he intends to sign it sometime next week.