Florida lawmakers to free up more relief money for Ian recovery

TALLAHASSEE – Florida lawmakers plan to pump more money into a brand new state disaster-relief fund, which Gov. Ron DeSantis has been working by means of to velocity recovery from Hurricane Ian.

House and Senate leaders introduced Wednesday the Joint Legislative Budget Commission will maintain an emergency meeting subsequent week to launch a further $360 million into the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund, which was established this year with $500 million.

“These additional funds will ensure more resources are immediately available to aid in our state’s recovery needs,” incoming House Speaker Paul Renner mentioned in a ready assertion.

Senate President Wilton Simpson mentioned the emergency money will “fund key response and recovery programs, including the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, which ensures that vital businesses like Florida’s farms can survive this disaster.”

The fee’s price range merchandise mentioned present obligations for Ian are already approaching the $500 million within the fund.

The announcement of the Oct. 12 meeting got here as President Joe Biden on Wednesday prolonged a interval when the federal authorities will decide up hurricane-recovery prices in 17 counties declared a catastrophe due to Ian.

Biden later arrived in Fort Myers to conduct an aerial survey of harm from the storm, which made landfall final week in Lee and Charlotte counties and crossed the state.

The extension strikes from 30 days to 60 days the interval when the federal authorities will cover one hundred pc of prices related to search and rescue, sheltering and feeding individuals, and different emergency measures.

Meanwhile, DeSantis mentioned Wednesday he’ll proceed to put the state’s price range reserves and catastrophe fund “to use very quickly” throughout the recovery.

“I think that’s what people want to see,” DeSantis mentioned throughout a information convention in Matlacha in Lee County. “Just get this stuff done and move forward.”

Lawmakers this year created the emergency fund as a pool of money the governor may dip into with out having to get approval from the price range fee, which is made up of House and Senate price range leaders and meets periodically. The fee has the authority to make mid-year price range choices.

DeSantis declared an emergency for Ian on Sept. 23, 5 days earlier than the Category 4 storm made landfall.

Lawmakers initially authorised the emergency fund in 2021, however DeSantis vetoed it after questions had been raised about utilizing federal stimulus {dollars} to seed this system. As authorised this year, the emergency fund attracts money from state normal income, which is the place unused federal stimulus {dollars} had been redirected.

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