The budget has a 5% raise for state workers plus $19 million to keep corrections workers from getting poached by other agencies and other states, Broxson said.
Also included is $5 million for the governor’s office for raises and increased security protection for the governor and his family. Broxson confirmed that $1 million of that was for DeSantis to offer his team raises.
“He will be able to keep people that are valuable to him and they will not go off to the private sector,” Broxson said.
The budget also has $4 billion earmarked for the governor’s requested transportation projects, Broxson said. It allows the Department of Transportation can request the first $2.5 billion this year, he said.
It contains a record $6 million for the governor to spend on litigation and related legal costs, a big jump from the $1 million a year normally budgeted. The Department of State is also getting $1.5 million for litigation.
“We knew things we are doing in Florida are leading the nation, and we want the governor to feel comfortable with that,” Broxson said, hinting at boundary-pushing legislation that has drawn constitutional challenges.
Passidomo said she’s “very comfortable with the amount we allocated for litigation. We’re a litigious society.”
And it has $850 million for a planned wildlife corridor, $382 million for Everglades restoration and $300 million for buying environmentally sensitive lands.
The state constitution requires that the House and Senate agree on a balanced budget, which requires several days and sometimes weeks of back-and-forth horse-trading. One of the biggest compromises was an agreement to spend $300 million combating sea level rise.
Once its finalized, the budget is set aside for a 72-hour cooling-off period, giving lawmakers enough time to wrap things up by Friday, the scheduled closing day for the 60-day session.
House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said the final budget is always a mixed bag. “There are many good priorities that have been funded in the budget that will help improve the lives of Floridians,” she said. Earlier in the day she expressed hope that Democrats would be able to get some of their own budget priorities across the line.
But legislators also sneak something by each year, too, she said. This year Driskell said she was alerted to language in the budget that would preempt counties from passing local fertilizer management ordinances.
“This is particularly alarming because fertilizer management by local governments is one of the most cost-effective means of improving water quality,” Driskell said. Fertilizer runoff is directly connected to red tide and blue-green algae blooms, she said.
It also is new language that hadn’t been previously vetted by any House or Senate committee, she said, and it would impact 117 communities.
Passidomo said it was something the House wanted, and there were things the Senate wanted. “That is the give and take,” she said. “It’s only one year and then goes away.”
But Driskell feared it will only lay the groundwork to become more permanent next year.
Another concern for Democrats in the waning days of a session are several “very troubling bills,” Driskell said.
The immigration bill, SB 1718, is teed up for a final vote in the House on Tuesday. It targets undocumented workers, described by Driskell as the backbone of Florida’s agriculture, hospitality and construction industries.
The bill, a priority for DeSantis, requires employers to ask about the legal status of their workers and makes hospitals identify the immigration status of their patients.
“It is wrong to profit from them year-round then demonize them from the air-conditioned capital to appease the GOP base,” Driskell said. The bill has been tempered somewhat by leaving out language that would have prevented undocumented students from paying in-state tuition.
Also coming in for a landing is HB 999, a bill aimed at dismantling Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs as well as some of the types of classes that can be taught. It also prohibits using state and federal funding to promote inclusion or engage in political activism.
A University of North Florida poll showed 61% of those surveyed opposed these restrictions to academic freedom, Driskell pointed out.
House Democrats tried to soften the bill with two dozen amendments that were killed by the Republican-controlled House.
And the medical conscience bill getting its final hearing this week “puts our health care and patients in danger,” Rep. Kelly Skidmore said.
“We will do our best as a caucus to highlight the more egregious parts of that bill and have amendments to make it less terrible,” At the end of the day, the people of Florida are in danger because of this poorly written bill.”
News Service of Florida contributed to this report.