Governor DeSantis announced the longest veto list and the largest veto total in the state’s history today, nixing 611 items amounting to more than $1 billion from the state’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The result is a $92.2 billion budget for the coming year, which is still larger than the current year’s $91 billion budget. Despite the reductions, the Governor managed to preserve his hard-fought teacher pay raises and increases to state employee pay. Hundreds of millions will also continue flowing to Everglades restoration and other key water projects championed by DeSantis. Falling by the wayside are hundreds of higher education, local government and member projects, none of which could withstand the fiscal pressure created by a surging Covid-19, decreasing state revenues and a looming hurricane season. Looking ahead to next fiscal year, veto savings when combined with reverted funds and savings from the current year budget position the state with a $6.3 billion buffer; an enviable position compared to many states. The Governor summed up his budget saying, “My goal was to try to safeguard the historic achievements that we were able to do while also realizing historic savings, so that we can move forward on a more solid foundation.”
This is your state on Covid.
The bad news: Florida saw two record increases in new coronavirus cases confirmed over the weekend. The state’s daily totals–which exceeded 8,500 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday–were higher than those reported by almost every other state since the beginning of the pandemic; only New York reported more. And Florida saw its highest single-day spike on Saturday, with more than 9,500 new cases reported. The good news: while Florida’s latest case numbers approached those reported in New York at the height of its outbreak, daily fatality numbers were very different. Florida's average death toll is roughly 10% of New York's April figures. New York’s high death rate was linked to outbreaks in nursing homes after Governor Cuomo passed an executive order in March that allowed long-term care facilities to re-admit residents recovering from Covid-19 infections. Meanwhile, younger (possibly healthier?) adults seem to make up most of the new cases here in Florida, with the Department of Health putting the median age of individuals who have tested positive at 41 years old and several counties reporting median ages of 31. Instead of young people being socially distant, they’re just being social, which Governor DeSantis said is the reason behind the surge of cases in the state.
Justice Roberts, swing voter?
The Supreme Court delivered a narrow victory for abortion rights advocates today when it struck down a Louisiana anti-abortion law with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the decisive vote. The law could have left Louisiana with only a single clinic and one doctor to provide abortions. While Monday’s ruling confirmed that the law would have violated the constitutional right to abortion first upheld in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, some view this as only a momentary reprieve from future abortion challenges. The vote was 5 to 4 with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. voting with the court’s four more liberal members. While he did not agree with their reasoning, Justice Roberts cited his respect for precedent compelling him to vote with the majority. "The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana's law cannot stand under our precedents," the chief justice wrote. The precedent was established in 2016, when the court rejected a Texas statute nearly identical to the Louisiana law.Beyond its obvious significance to women in Louisiana,the decision was the court’s first on abortion rights during the Trump presidency and another blow to Trump’s attempt to shift the high court to the right politically.