TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday outlined a series of recommendations for how he'd like the state to use the latest round of federal relief funds – the ones coming from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package. Among the recommendations is a payment for first responders.
Speaking to reporters in Tallahassee, the governor said he'd be sending a letter listing his recommendations to the speaker of Florida's House of Representatives and the president of the state Senate.
While it’s unclear exactly how much money Florida will receive from the federal government, DeSantis said he believes it will be between $9 and $10 billion. DeSantis’ recommendations outline expenditures totaling $4.1 billion.
Those recommendations include DeSantis’ hope to give a one-time $1,000 first responder bonus payment to all Florida’s firefighters, sworn law enforcement officers and EMTs. If approved, the payments would cost about $208.4 million and be administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
DeSantis is also recommending $73.2 million be spent to modernize the state’s CONNECT reemployment assistance program, which has been plagued by issues during the pandemic.
“I’m also recommending the provision of $56.6 million to support the operations of the reemployment assistance program to accommodate increased volume and manage the adjudication of claims, particularly when you have disputed claims,” DeSantis said.
The governor is also recommending $72 million for the creation of a comprehensive behavioral health management system that he says would streamline access to services.
Additionally, the governor is calling for relief to Florida’s struggling cruise ship industry.
“In all these different relief packages, there hasn’t been any money set aside for the seaports,” DeSantis said.
The governor said he would be recommending almost $260 million be funneled to help the state’s seaports – an amount equal to the pandemic losses they accrued through February 2021.
DeSantis would like an additional $150 million to go to the Florida job growth grant fund and an additional $50 million to support Visit Florida operations and marketing efforts to boost the state's tourism industry.
He is also recommending $41.7 million go to the Florida National Guard, primarily in the form of capital investment. Guard members have been activated multiple times over the last year.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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