TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis recently released a $99.7 billion budget blueprint for the 2022 legislative session and has touted a series of other proposals.
Here are 10 of DeSantis’ priorities — big and small — for the session, which will start Jan. 11:
--- CRYPTOCURRENCY: DeSantis has requested $700,000 for cryptocurrency projects at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Financial Services. For example, a pilot program would allow people to pay for motor-vehicle title certificates through Blockchain technology at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
--- ELECTIONS ENFORCEMENT: DeSantis is seeking $5.7 million for a 52-person Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Department of State to investigate and prosecute election-related crimes.
--- FLORIDA STATE GUARD: DeSantis has requested $5.4 million to re-establish a 200-member Florida State Guard, which was a defense force set up during World War II to replace Florida National Guard members who were deployed abroad. It would be used to assist the National Guard during emergencies.
--- FREEDOM TOWER: DeSantis has requested $25 million to restore Miami’s Freedom Tower, which was used in the past to process Cuban refugees. Legislative proposals have already been filed for the work on the nearly 100-year-old building.
--- GAS TAX CUT: DeSantis wants to suspend the state’s 25-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline for five months, starting July 1. The state would use $1 billion in federal stimulus money to make up for the lost money, as gas taxes go toward transportation projects.
--- HIRING AND KEEPING COPS: DeSantis wants increase pay for officers at the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, provide a second round of $1,000 bonuses for first responders and provide $5,000 bonuses to help recruit law-enforcement officers to Florida.
--- IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN: DeSantis has requested $8 million to transport undocumented immigrants out of state, while calling on legislators to expand a 2019 law targeting so-called “sanctuary cities” and a 2020 law that requires all government employers and some contractors to use a federal electronic system known as E-Verify to check the immigration status of new workers.
— SNAKE HUNT: DeSantis wants $3 million as part of the state’s efforts to remove invasive Burmese pythons, which threaten wildlife and ecosystems in the Everglades.
--- TEACHER BONUSES: DeSantis wants to use $238 million in federal stimulus money to give a second round of $1,000 bonuses to teachers and principals in an effort to retain educators amid an ongoing teacher shortage.
--- TESTING OVERHAUL: DeSantis wants to spend $15.5 million to carry out a plan that would replace the statewide standardized tests known as the Florida Standards Assessments with a progress-monitoring system.