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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

The Legislature’s $115 billion spending proposal is receiving some pushback from Democrats

Floral arrangements decorate desks during a joint session Tuesday, March 4, 2014, on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. The 2014 Florida legislative session starts today. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
Phil Sears
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AP
Floral arrangements decorate desks during a joint session on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Democratic lawmakers expressed concerns about the budget not including enough money for state prisons, agriculture, and rural development projects.

The Florida House and Senate spending plans top $115 billion for the 2024-25 fiscal year. That’s about $4 billion less than the current budget, of $119 billion. But Republican House Speaker Paul Renner told reporters last Thursday that’s not entirely a bad thing.

Renner said the Legislature needs to cut back on unnecessary spending now that the federal government is pulling back on pandemic stimulus dollars. He also said the state is expecting less revenue in upcoming years.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going into deficit, but the growth in revenues is slowing significantly," said Renner. "If you look at where spending is, at some point in the future those lines are going to cross.” 

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast opens the Special Session Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.
Phil Sears/AP
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FR170567 AP
House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said the Legislature needs to cut back on unnecessary spending now that the federal government is pulling back on pandemic stimulus dollars.


Several Democrats voted against the House’s spending proposal. Orlando Rep. Bruce Antone said Thursday the proposal would strike out most of the funding earmarked for members of the Democratic Black Caucus. He also worries his district won’t have enough money to move forward with certain infrastructure projects.

“I can’t even start up the bulldozer with that," said Antone.

St. Petersburg Rep. Lindsay Cross said while there are a lot of good things in this year’s proposal, she still urged lawmakers to consider setting more money aside for agricultural and land preservation programs in Florida.

“We’re seeing a 66% decrease in that funding from last year and we’re quite far off from where the Senate is.”

House Democrats closed out their opposition with Tampa state Rep. Dianne Hart. She blasted Republican colleagues for not putting more money into the state’s crumbling prisons.

"We just give them $7 billion and say go way and spend it however you like," said Hart.

Hart noted that some state facilities do not have air conditioning.

“The fact that we don’t identify some of the things we know are needed. How could we not earmark air conditioning in this budget and require it," Hart said.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate must work to settle on the state’s final spending plan in early March.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.

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