Florida Leads on Transportation and Economic Development

Effectively managing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the needs of Floridians remains Governor DeSantis’ top priority. In order to guarantee continued growth, aid economic recovery and ensure that Floridians are able to work and learn, millions of dollars have been invested in economic and rural development throughout the state. A large part of Florida’s economy is derived from the state’s robust tourism industry, which has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Governor DeSantis remains committed to making sure there are resources and support available for businesses to succeed with COVID-19 safety measures.

At the beginning of the pandemic, with fewer people on the roads, Governor DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Transportation to expedite key projects, resulting in great strides being made in improving Florida’s infrastructure. Governor DeSantis continues to recommend investments to maintain our roadways and promote public safety. Additionally, Florida’s future remains bright as millions of dollars in investments for cybersecurity and critical infrastructure becomes a reality.

Ensuring Housing Availability and Affordability for Florida’s Families

Governor DeSantis has recommended that Florida’s primary affordable housing programs be fully funded in each of his budget recommendations since taking office. The Governor’s budget provides $423.3 million to fully fund workforce and affordable housing programs. This amount includes $126.7 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) Program, and $296.6 million for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP). These programs are administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) from a portion of the revenues received from documentary stamp taxes on real estate transfers.

The SAIL Program, funded by the State Housing Trust Fund, provides low-interest loans on a competitive basis to affordable rental housing developers. SAIL funds serve to bridge the gap between primary financing and the total cost of the development. This allows developers to obtain the full financing needed to construct or rehabilitate affordable multifamily units.

The SHIP Program, funded by the Local Government Housing Trust Fund, provides funds to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing for very low, low and moderate income families. SHIP dollars may be used to fund emergency repairs, new construction, rehabilitation, down payment and closing cost assistance, impact fees, construction and gap financing, mortgage buy-downs, acquisition of property for affordable housing, matching dollars for federal housing grants and programs, and homeownership counseling.

Disaster Recovery/Emergency Management

The Governor has continued to make disaster recovery and mitigation a top priority of his administration. Florida communities continue to recover from substantial hurricane strikes in recent years, most notably Hurricanes Irma and Michael. The Governor’s budget provides significant funding for disaster recovery/mitigation and emergency management, including:

Division of Emergency Management

Open Federally Declared Disasters – Funding to Communities/State Operations
$1.9 billion in federal and state funding is provided so that communities can respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies as well as mitigate against future disasters or emergencies.
$265 million in federal and state assistance is included to leverage the work associated with the state operations relating to federally declared disasters for the Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation, and Disaster Activity programs.. The budget includes $383 million to continue Florida’s response efforts for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Economic Opportunity

Community Development Block Grant
The budget includes federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds directed toward local hurricane recovery and hardening efforts throughout the state. These funds include several CDBG programs, including CDBG Disaster Recovery Program for all named hurricanes since 2017 and CDBG Mitigation Program.
Revolving Loan Fund Program
The budget includes $15 million to support the Rebuild Florida Revolving Loan Program in Hurricane Michael affected counties. This program, supported by an additional $8 million award from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, assists businesses with disaster related economic changes, and can be used to address capital needs and help businesses implement plans for resiliency to protect against future storms.

Economic Recovery and Development

The impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s economy has been substantial, yet Florida’s economic recovery is well underway. With each passing month, our state continues to see Floridians returning to work and businesses growing. To further support Florida on its current path of economic recovery, job growth, and business development, the Governor’s budget provides significant funding for economic expansion initiatives, including:

$50 million for the Job Growth Grant Fund to support local infrastructure and job training projects targeted towards economic recovery and development. $5 million for Enterprise Florida, Inc. to engage in targeted campaigns that market the opportunities available in Florida for businesses to realize economic and job growth in our state. $50 million for VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing programs, the same amount as in the current fiscal year, to continue showcasing that Florida is once again open and safe for tourists from throughout the U.S. and the world. $50 million for the Economic Development Transportation Fund, also known as the “Road Fund”. This will provide funding for projects to facilitate economic development by eradicating location specific transportation problems (e.g., access roads, signalization, road widening, etc.)

Rural Recovery and Development

In addition to being the backbone of Florida’s agricultural industry, the state’s rural communities hold increased potential for businesses and infrastructure that will be a key component of Florida’s continued economic growth. The Governor’s budget wholeheartedly supports Florida rural development initiatives, including:

$5 million for the Rural Infrastructure Fund to support local rural infrastructure projects such as broadband, roads, storm and wastewater systems, and telecommunications facilities. $1.17 million for the Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Program to provide local governments with access to financial assistance to further promote the economic viability of Florida's rural communities. $3.2 million to fund a new program that will study broadband accessibility and provide grants to Florida rural communities to assist them with expanding broadband capability and availability. Legislation was passed in 2020 establishing an Office of Broadband within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to increase the availability and effectiveness of broadband internet throughout the state, specifically in small and rural communities.

Ensuring Fair, Free, and Safe Elections

Although Florida elections are administered at the local level, the state plays an important role in ensuring elections are conducted fairly and accurately. The state helps to make sure that Florida’s voting and registration systems are safe from cybersecurity threats. It is imperative that investments continue to be made in order to ensure Florida’s elections are fair, free, and safe.

The Governor’s budget includes $16.7 million for state-level election oversight activities, with a focus on cybersecurity enhancements to Florida’s election system. This amount includes: $3 million for the Supervisors of Elections to continue cybersecurity initiatives and improvements to their systems. $2 million for Election Legacy Hardware for security improvements and enhancements in election technology.

Infrastructure

Florida is a top destination to live, work and visit, which makes significant investments in our state’s critical transportation infrastructure even more important. The Governor’s budget includes $10.4 billion for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). This investment will provide for the retention or creation of more than 148,500 jobs Every dollar invested in transportation is estimated to result in a return of up to $4 in user and economic benefits to Florida’s residents and businesses, and also helps diversify Florida’s economy.

Within this amount the Governor’s budget provides $9.47 billion for the State Transportation Work Program, which is an ongoing five-year plan for the implementation and completion of transportation infrastructure projects. These projects include construction and maintenance of Florida’s roads, bridges, rails, seaports and other public transportation systems that grow the state’s economy and improve the quality of life for our citizens. Within the Governor’s budget the Work Program includes:

$2.5 billion for highway construction to include 210 new lane miles. $1 billion in resurfacing to include 2,689 lane miles. $122.6 million in seaport infrastructure improvements. $331 million for aviation improvements of which $199.6 million is for Spaceports. $516 million in scheduled repairs for 89 bridges and replacement of 18 bridges. $717 million investment in rail/transit projects. $172.2 million for safety initiatives.