Daily Blog 4-1-19

The Florida House and Florida Senate rolled out proposed budgets for the next fiscal year, and the two versions must now be reconciled through the budget negotiation process and, once finalized and approved, sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

The budget impacts a number of priority Realtor issues because it controls the Tallahassee purse strings. If a bill passes authorizing a property purchase, for example, it won’t do much good unless the Florida Legislature also puts money into the budget to make it happen.

Many of the budget proposals out of both chambers are good for Florida’s Realtors, though more work needs to be done as the budgets are reconciled. Included in the initial budget numbers are spending proposals for two top legislative priorities: water quality and affordable housing.

“These are just the first proposals in a lengthy and complicated negotiation process, so the numbers are likely to change,” says Florida Realtors President Eric Sain. “But we are encouraged by some of what we are seeing and will continue to work hard to make our voice heard on all of our priorities.”

Top budget items

  • Water quality
    The House proposed a $607 million budget that will be spent on water quality, Everglades restoration and other environmental projects. The Senate proposed $660 million for the same environmental priorities. The initial budget numbers are encouraging and provide some indication that the final environmental spending plan will be very close to DeSantis’ proposal of $625 million.
  • Affordable housing
    The Senate proposed full funding of the state’s affordable housing trust funds – approximately $331 million – while the House proposes $123 million. The Senate’s proposal matches up with the governor’s call for full funding, but the House falls well short of that goal. Florida Realtors will continue to monitor the budget negotiation process carefully to see if further action will be needed in the House.

Budget program details

  • Green and red algae
    There are no timelines for solving algae problems, but they’re included in the Integrated Delivery Schedule, which is a comprehensive list of all Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects. The State of Florida’s only obligation is to put up half the money; the rest comes from the federal government. Federal support includes money and the Army Corps of Engineers, which builds the projects.
  • The Senate proposes $27 million for water quality improvements related to a red tide/blue green algae task force. The House proposes $19 million for the same project. There is also a bill that directs funding to the Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota to study red tide.
  • Everglades restoration
    The overall appropriation for Everglades-related projects is $360 million. A third of this money will be used to begin moving dirt on the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir. There is also a line item in the Department of Transportation budget that uses money from the DOT trust fund to pay the remaining funds needed to complete the raising of Tamiami Trail. The Trail raising is considered a huge step in efforts to send more water through the Everglades and on to Florida Bay. These, and other projects, should all have positive impacts on limiting algae blooms once completed.
  • Septic tanks
    Both budgets include money for septic tanks. The Senate proposes a straight $25 million for septic-to-sewer projects. The House proposes a dollar-for-dollar match program with local governments; it budgets up to $50 million.
  • Affordable housing
    Local governments have up to three years to spend State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) funding. State Apartment Incentive Loan program (SAIL) funds are based on project application and the approval of federal tax credits. The Senate proposed $170 million for SHIP and $54 million for SAIL. The rest of their funds go towards hurricane housing and rental recovery. The House has zero funding for SHIP and SAIL. Their $123 million goes towards hurricane housing and rental recovery.


© 2019 Florida Realtors®

Post a Comment