Up to $2B expected to be needed
The Florida Legislature meeting in special session the week before last agreed to pump hundreds of millions of dollars of extra funding into helping residents and local governments recover from the devastating effects of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. As the recovery from the two hurricanes accelerate, so does the need for funding to rebuild communities and infrastructure damaged in Ian’s Cat 4 winds and flooding and Nicole’s Cat 1 flooding and destructive coastal erosion.
The legislature passed SB 2-B, signed into law by the Governor last week. It adds $650 million to replenish the state’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund that is used for responding to a declared state of emergency. The fund was established in the spring of 2022 with an initial $500 million to allow the Governor to spend as emergencies arise – and did they! Weeks after Ian struck on September 28, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which is empowered to appropriate money in between legislative sessions, pumped an additional $360 million into the fund. Today, the fund has about $420 million but the state’s Division of Emergency Management estimates total expenditures related to Ian and Nicole will reach $2 billion.
The bill also creates the Local Government Emergency Bridge Loan Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity. The legislature appropriated $50 million in nonrecurring funds from General Revenue that will be used to provide interest-free loans in lump sums to local governments impacted by either hurricane. House sponsor Mike Giallombardo (R-Cape Coral) said after the measure passed that “these are critical funds that will help us in the future,” but warned “we still have a lot more work to do.”
All of this new funding is in addition to the $250 million in disaster recovery authorized in SB 4-A in the recent December special session.
LMA Newsletter of 2-20-23