Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ State of the State address contrasted the pressures of rising inflation during President Joe Biden’s first term with Florida’s economic success.
But state Democrats said DeSantis ought to give the president more credit.
“He will attack President Biden and Congress over and over again,” House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, said in her March 7 response to DeSantis’ speech. But he “won’t mention that $1 of every $3 he spends comes from the federal government.”
Driskell is the Democratic ranking member of the Florida House Appropriations Committee, which will be key in shaping the state budget during the 60-day legislative session that started March 7.
Her claim references DeSantis’ proposed budget, which is a statement of policy priorities; lawmakers will shape the budget as they wish, leaving DeSantis room for line-item vetoes. PolitiFact wondered whether Driskell’s ratio of federal-to-state spending is accurate.
Her figure fits the bill. Federal funds comprise one-third of Florida’s budget. That’s not out of whack with other states: Florida’s federal percentage is consistent with the national average.
Federal funds make up about 34% of DeSantis’ proposed budget
When we asked about the source of Driskell’s “$1 of every $3” claim, House Minority Office Staff Director David Grimes directed us to the text of DeSantis’ proposed $114 billion budget for fiscal year 2023-24, which starts July 1.
The recommended budget uses about $39 billion in federal funding. “Dividing the federal portion over the entire budget reveals federal funding constitutes approximately 34.5% of the budget, or $1 out of every $3 he spends,” Grimes told PolitiFact.
Experts agreed with that methodology and offered additional context.
For one, Florida’s federal share is not unusual. The federal government sends money to support states’ public education programs and Medicaid, which is run jointly with states, among other programs. States spend nearly half of federal funding on Medicaid.
Federal funding provides money to local school districts to help educate students with disabilities or from low-income families, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title 1 programs.
On average, federal dollars made up about 38% of states’ spending in fiscal year 2021-22, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.
“While it is correct to say that $1 out of every $3 comes from the federal government, it is irrelevant to attribute it to President Biden,” said Lucy Dadayan, senior research associate at the Urban Institute. “All states, including Florida, get federal funds each year regardless of who is the president.”
The federal share grew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, experts said. There is some variation in how much federal money each state receives because of unexpected events like hurricanes or wildfires.
Because of the 2021 American Rescue Plan that Biden signed, Florida received around $8.8 billion in state and local recovery funds. More than half of the money went to capital construction projects, such as building or improving highways.
The state also set aside $1.7 billion for the environment and about $526 million toward education, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. Florida has until 2026 to spend the money.
“Federal aid to the states had increased in the past decade for all states,” Dadayan told PolitiFact. “Federal funds to Florida represented at least one-third of total state spending since 2010.”
If DeSantis’ proposed budget is enacted, the federal government’s share of 34.5% would be the lowest percentage of federal funds since fiscal year 2018-19, the last budget before he took office.
Driskell said $1 of every $3 DeSantis “spends comes from the federal government.”
If DeSantis’ budgetary recommendations are enacted, about 34.5% — or $1 out of every $3 — of the total budget would come from the federal government. That percentage is consistent with the national average.
Experts said federal funding would be provided to states regardless of who is in the White House. The federal government’s share of 34.5% of DeSantis’ proposed budget would be the lowest percentage since fiscal year 2018-19, but the final budget won’t be ready for almost two months.
We rate Driskell’s statement True.