The Florida House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee recommends spending $19.5 billion for infrastructure and tourism needs in fiscal 2024.
The amount was revealed at a Tuesday briefing by Committee Chair state Rep. Robert Andrade, R-Pensacola.
“We made great efforts to further provide for the safety and protection of our citizens,” Andrade said, adding that this outlay includes new equipment for the Florida Highway Patrol and $30 million for the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program.
Andrade also recommended spending $2 million on the National Guard Tuition Assistance Program.
Florida National Guard armories will also receive $13.9 million for maintenance.
Andrade noted that he was also following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recommendation to increase funding for the National Guard.
“These total $107.6 million for personnel, equipment, equipment compensation, and fixed capital needs,” Andrade said.
Andrade also stated that the committee is recommending total economic development funding of $119.8 million to maintain the department's base funding for various economic development programs, including the Black Business Loan Program, the Hispanic Business Initiative, and military base protection.
The Job Growth Grant Fund will be allocated an additional $25 million and $18.5 million will go towards funding Space Florida.
Rural communities will receive $9 million for infrastructure and $11 million will be allocated for defense infrastructure grants.
The budget also fully funds the Transportation Work Program at $13.4 billion, an increase of $2 million from the previous year.
The committee also worked through several bills on the agenda.
House Bill 893 was presented by state Rep. Robert Brannan, R-Lake City, and allows funds to be appropriated for the naming of stretches of highways in honor of fallen Florida State Troopers. HB 893 was reported favorably.
HB 909 was presented by state Rep. Fiona MacFarland, R- Sarasota. The bill allows the Department of State to implement a password-protected system for the electronic filing of various records, providing greater security to the documents. HB 909 was reported favorably.
HB 49 was presented by House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, and addresses the lack of care for African American cemeteries and gravesites that have been abandoned.
“House Bill 49 is a statewide commitment to the identification and maintenance of abandoned African American cemeteries. It also creates a dedicated office of historic cemeteries within the Department of State.” Driskell said.
HB 49 was reported favorably.
House Bill 197 was presented by state Rep. Traci Koster, R-Tampa. The bill updates current law to narrow a loophole allowing suspended license holders from being able to drive while intoxicated.
The bill will direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to install interlock devices into vehicles prior to the issuance of hardship licenses and also drops the time frame for getting a hardship license from 90 days to 30 days. Koster noted that the cost to taxpayers is around $3 per day per device.
HB 197 was reported favorably.
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