Summer has officially begun, and what a different year it has been! This time last year, Florida was just beginning its Phase 2 re-opening efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants, retail establishments and gyms and were allowed to open at 50 percent indoor capacity; then, restaurants could offer outdoor seating with social distancing. Professional sports competitions began in controlled environments; amusement parks submitted re-opening plans; and vacation rentals needed approval from counties to operate. Movie theatres, bowling alleys and arcades opened at 50 percent capacity, followed by pari-mutuel facilities and tattoo parlors. Mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief were extended.
Interestingly, all of these actions impacted the state’s economy in a positive way. Federal stimulus payments certainly contributed to greater consumer spending. General revenue collections totaled a record $29 billion in 2020 and, for the first time in history, the monthly general revenue topped $3 billion during one month (April 2021).
As the economy was rebounding, the State began its COVID-19 vaccination rollout. COVID-19 vaccines are now available for persons age 12 and up at pharmacies, in addition to many other options such as churches and schools, across Florida. The Florida Department of Health ended its daily coronavirus reports in early June and now publishes a weekly summary. Health experts, doctors, and the media utilize these reports to track COVID-19 infections and deaths in Florida to analyze the pandemic’s impact.
BUDGET The Fiscal Year 2021-22 General Appropriations Act totaled $101.5 billion, including $8.82 billion from the federal American Rescue Plan. The Legislature sent the budget to Governor Ron DeSantis on June 1st, and he signed it on June 2nd, vetoing $1.5 billion. The vetoes consisted primarily of federal funds earmarked for emergency preparedness and the budget stabilization fund. Here is a list of the vetoed line items.