Pensacola hit by budget vetoes

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed Airport expansion for a MRO campus – $1.5 million, as well as Cervantes Street pedestrian improvements, $600,000.

From Christine Sexton, The News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the state budget on Friday, vetoing $93 million in general revenue. When combined with federal funds, the vetoes totaled about $131 million in spending reductions.

 “I think it’s a fiscally responsible budget. I think we put taxpayers first,” DeSantis told reporters on Friday.

DeSantis did veto some health care spending, including $3.3 million that was directed to the South Florida State Hospital, a 350-bed state psychiatric hospital. And he vetoed $783,720 earmarked for the South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center.

DeSantis also nixed from the budget $1 million that was directed toward Doctor’s Memorial Hospital in Bonifay. The money would have been used to build a 6,000 square foot medical office facility to serve pediatric/cardiologist specialists’ needs. Another health care project DeSantis vetoed was $450,000 for the Leesburg Regional Medical Center.

Here are some of the highlights of the $90.9 billion budget that goes into effect July 1:

The budget directs $10.17 billion from general revenue to health and human services spending across five health-care agencies.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities got a lot of attention in this year’s budget and most of it for the good. Lawmakers agreed to allow working adults with disabilities to earn up to $50,886 annually and have up to $13,000 in cash in savings accounts without risking the loss of their Medicaid benefits. Prior attempts to allow people with disabilities to earn more without losing their benefits were quashed. But this year, Senate budget chief Rob Bradley worked to make it a priority.

Lawmakers also agreed to pump an additional $28 million for APD to help increase the  wages paid to people who care for adults with developmental disabilities.

The budget, though, also directs a redesign of APD’s “I-budget” going forward. Though it’s funded with Medicaid dollars, the I-budget is one of the few that is administered outside of the statewide mandatory Medicaid managed-care program. That makes it a rarity. And it’s an expensive one, too.

Another policy change that takes effect on July 1 with the new budget is a shift in hospital spending. Lawmakers ultimately agreed to redirect $9.5 million that is currently targeted to 28 facilities with the highest Medicaid caseloads and spend it instead to increase base rates paid to all hospitals.

Meanwhile, while most of the bills passed during the 2019 session have been sent to DeSantis, the governor still hasn’t received HB 21, a certificate of need bill; HB 23, a telehealth bill; or HB 843, an omnibus bill that contains a variety of issues, including a controversial provision about no-compete contracts .