FL - State Budget Bill Finalized; Includes Over $4-Billion in Hurricane Recovery; Advances Resiliency Plan
The Florida Legislature has finalized the proposed state budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year and it will be put to a final vote on Friday May 5. Senate Bill 2500, the General Appropriations Act, provides $113.6-billion in spending for the annual period beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2024.
The budget bill, along with other legislative efforts during the past year's special sessions, total more than $4 billion in Hurricane Relief for southwest Florida and other communities across the state impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole.
In a news release, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) said - “The 2023-24 budget advanced by the Legislature furthers ongoing relief and recovery efforts as we work to help Southwest Florida and other impacted communities rebuild ... I am confident our state will be even more prepared for future hurricanes and other significant weather events."
In addition, both the Florida House and Senate have passed Senate Bill 250 which incorporates the recommendations of the Select Committee on Resiliency created by Senator Passidomo following the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole last year.
Some of those recommendations include requiring the Division of Emergency Management to post a model contract for debris removal on its website by a specified date; requiring the model contract to be annually updated by a specified date; requiring the division to administer a revolving loan fund for certain local government projects; increasing the timeframe to exercise rights under a permit or other authorization, and prohibiting counties and municipalities from prohibiting temporary shelters on residential property for a specified timeframe. The measure appropriates $61-million to fund those initiatives. The bill has now been sent to Governor DeSantis.
Other Hurricane Relief Funding in the State Budget Proposal
Hurricane Ian and Nicole Grant Recovery Program ($350 million)
The state budget includes $350 million for the creation of a Hurricane Ian and Nicole Grant Recovery Program administered by the Division of Emergency Management (DEM). The program will help local governments mitigate local and county revenue losses and operating deficits; make infrastructure repairs and replacements including road and sewer and water facilities; conduct beach nourishment; and complete debris removal. Funding can be requested by local governments, independent special districts, and school boards, including charter schools. Local entities must certify that insufficient state funds, federal funds, private funds, or insurance proceeds are available and that should sufficient funds subsequently become available to meet the need, the local entity has agreed to reimburse the state.
Lee County Bridge Repair Projects ($75.2 million)
The budget also funds four specific bridge projects in hurricane damaged areas, including $51.7 million for the Sanibel Causeway Corridor; $12.4 million for Matlacha Corridor repairs; $6.0 million for project development and environment studies for Big Hickory, Little Carlos Pass, and New Pass Bridges; and $5.1 million for miscellaneous repairs to bridges and roads in Lee County.
Additional Hurricane Response and Recovery Funding ($1.735 billion)
- Department of Environmental Protection - Beach Recovery and Renourishment - $106 million
- Department of Financial Services - My Safe Florida Homes Program - $100 million
- Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program for Beach Erosion - $50 million
- Lee County School District School Repair/Rebuild - $17.6 million
- Various Additional Local Funding Initiatives Impacted Communities - $61.9 million
- Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund - $1.4 billion
Senate Select Committee on Resiliency Legislation – SB 250, by Senator Johnathan Martin (R-Ft. Myers) – ($61 million)
With the wide-ranging impacts of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole clearly falling under the jurisdiction of a number of standing committees, in November President Passidomo created the Senate Select Committee on Resiliency, chaired by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Wauchula) to review recovery efforts and overall resiliency planning. The committee worked to identify legislative steps that can be taken to provide additional tools to assist state and local governments with preparation for and response to future storms. Senator Martin filed SB 250, which incorporates those recommendations. In addition to significant policy reforms, the bill includes approximately $62 million in funding and spending authority.
Specifically, the bill:
- Requires DEM to post a model debris removal contract for the benefit of local governments.
- Encourages local governments to create emergency financial plans in preparation for major natural disasters.
- Provides that counties and municipalities cannot prohibit a resident from placing a temporary residential structure on their property for up to 36 months following a natural emergency.
- Authorizes local governments to create specialized building inspection teams following a natural disaster and encourages interlocal agreements for additional building inspection services during a state of emergency.
- Requires local governments to expedite the issuance of permits following a natural disaster, with retroactivity to September 28, 2022.
- Increases the extension of certain building permits following a declaration of a state of emergency from six to 24 months and caps such extension at 48 months in the event of multiple natural emergencies.
- Prohibits counties and municipalities within the disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole from increasing building fees until October 1, 2024.