TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is cutting more than $1 billion from the budget the Legislature approved in March.
He signed the now $92.2 billion budget Monday, two days before the fiscal year starts. He said the cuts were deeper than he wanted because revenue is dropping because of the coronavirus.
But he said he still preserved teacher and state worker raises, a boost for child welfare and $625 million for environmental projects.
Lawmakers first passed the multi-billion dollar budget in mid-March toward the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in Florida and around the United States. During a news conference Monday, DeSantis applauded state leaders' efforts to take recommendations from the blue-green algae task force to pass water quality reform.
The governor also followed up on his promise to bring state teacher pay from being among the lowest in the nation to being in the top five. Last week, he signed a bill increasing base pay to at least $47,500 a year.
DeSantis' news conference came hours after a new daily report on coronavirus cases in the state. On Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported another 5,266 cases of COVID-19, a drop in new confirmed cases after three days of case numbers topping 8,000.
DeSantis didn't take questions beyond the state budget except for one about his thoughts on Jacksonville's face mask mandate, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday.
The governor reiterated that his administration has left and is still leaving the decision on face masks up to local leaders.
"We're not going to do that statewide," DeSantis said, noting he supports local leaders' efforts they think are appropriate to combat coronavirus in their respective jurisdictions.
There was also a drop in testing on Sunday, with roughly 41,000 test results turned in. On Saturday, there were more than 72,000 tests turned in.
The positivity rate on Monday was 13.67 percent, the fourth day in a row the percent positivity was greater than 12 percent.
DeSantis on Sunday reiterated that there are no major policy changes to the state's reopening plan. Florida has been in Phase Two of reopening since June 5.
DeSantis asserts the jumps in new case reports came from testing and increased numbers of younger people contracting coronavirus.
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