Here are the winners and losers in DeSantis’ new state budget – NBC 6 South Florida

Here are the winners and losers in DeSantis’ new state budget – NBC 6 South Florida

Here are the winners and losers in DeSantis’ new state budget – NBC 6 South Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been on the road selling the benefits of the new state budget, but not everyone got a piece of the pie.

The 2024-2025 budget, which the governor signed in early June, cut $950 million in spending from a budget of $116 billion.

Loss for the arts

DeSantis was immediately criticized for cutting about $32 million in the arts, leaving hundreds of programs statewide scrambling.

City Theater, a Miami-based non-profit founded in 1996, is feeling the brunt of this year’s cuts.

“We are best known for our short play format,” said Executive Director Gladys Ramirez, who explained City Theater has an annual “short play” summer program at the Arsht Center.

This year, the program will not be able to count on about 10% of their budget, which amounts to $50,000.

“Some people, like City Theater, are going to be forced to cut programming, to cut staff hours or entire positions and to look to see how we can come back from not only from such a large cut, but such a last-minute cut,” said Ramirez, who points to the ripple effect these cuts will have on artists and the businesses that support them.

“There are a lot of people who are impacted by this even outside of the immediate arts community,” Ramirez added.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offered up his reasons for vetoing some $32 million in arts and culture grants while signing the state’s budget earlier this month.

The Coral Gables Art Cinema will be short more than $100,000 this year. About $150,000 has suddenly disappeared from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s budget. The Miami New Drama also has an unexpected $150,000 budget hole.

“What baffles me is that Florida has been trying to attract business from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and what message are we sending if we cut funding to our cultural organizations?” said Michel Hausmann, artistic director and co-founder of the Miami New Drama in Miami Beach. “Are you going to attract people to a state where arts and culture aren’t valued? “They are the lifeline of a city.”

Arts leaders across the state say it’s the first time they recalled a Florida governor eliminating all grant funding for arts and culture, and it comes as arts organizations that survived COVID-19 pandemic closures are still recovering with smaller attendance and revenues.

“We are appealing to the community to help cover part of the budget deficit and we are exploring other funding opportunities in the private sector,” said Brenda Moe, executive director of Coral Gables Art Cinema. “We have to get creative to plug this hole.”

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will cut expenses, look for a way to increase revenue and hope county and city officials fill some of the gap, said Karina Bharne, the symphony’s executive director.

State grants made up 10% of the Coral Gables Art Cinema’s budget, more than 3% of the Miami New Drama’s budget and around 2% of the Orlando Philharmonic’s budget.

When asked at a news conference on Thursday why he vetoed arts funding in the state’s $116.5 billion budget, DeSantis said some of the money was slotted for programming that many taxpayers would find objectionable because of its sexual nature or for other reasons.

“When I see money being spent that way, I have to be the one to stand up for taxpayers and say, ‘You know what, that is an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars,’” DeSantis said. “I think the Legislature needs to reevaluate how that’s being done.”

The winners: Everglades, education and more

But the governor’s budget has plenty of winners.

As examples, the Everglades Trust touted more than $740 million for Everglades restoration, the Florida Health Care Association pointed to an 8% increase in Medicaid funding for nursing homes, and the Florida Mosquito Control Association cited a $1 million increase in funding to “combat the world’s deadliest animal.”

The budget includes a nearly $1.8 billion increase in the Florida Education Finance Program, the main funding source for public schools, with total funding for the kindergarten- through 12th-grade system topping out at $28.4 billion.

The overall pot of money for schools includes such things as a $20 million increase in mental health funding and a $40 million boost for school safety efforts.

DeSantis also approved a $200 million increase to help boost teacher salaries. Coupled with past increases, DeSantis said the budget includes $1.25 billion for teacher salaries.

“This budget will include $1.25 billion that can only be used to increase teacher salaries. No money to unions, no money to bureaucracy, only for teacher salary increases. And that’s more than the state of Florida has ever done,” DeSantis said.

But the Florida Education Association teachers union said the money would have to be spread to roughly 200,000 educators and would not “move the needle” far enough.

“This $200 million equates to a salary increase in every classroom teacher’s paycheck of about $125 a month, and nowhere near the $15,000 annual increase needed to match the national average for teacher salaries,” union president Andrew Spar said in a statement. “The only thing the budget guarantees is that Florida’s teachers will remain near the bottom in average pay.”

“Governments should strive to do more with less,” DeSantis wrote. “It can be done, and my action today cements that lesson for the nation.”

Among big-ticket items, the budget includes $14.5 billion for the state transportation work program and $232 million for cancer research funding, including $127.5 million for the Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program.

The governor asserts that his budget reduces state spending and leaves the state’s coffers with a $17 billion surplus.