Governor Ron DeSantis visited Pensacola to announce his proposal to increase the state budget by more than $ 100 million to better fund the Florida National Guard and to restore a force of civilian volunteers from the Guard of the State of Florida.
The governor made the announcement Thursday morning as he spoke to a small group of guards at the Pensacola National Guard armory.
“I am proud to say that this budget is going to include major investments to support the Florida National Guard,” DeSantis said. “In fact, we are recommending over $ 100 million to support our National Guard to ensure it has the means necessary to carry out its mission – be it the federal functions it can perform at the overseas, whether it’s supporting disaster recovery and rescue operations in Florida. At all levels, when we need help, we have the Guard there for us. “
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DeSantis was joined at the Pensacola National Guard armory by his 3-year-old son Mason, who held his father’s hand during the approximately 20-minute press conference, and by Major General James O Eifert, Deputy General of Florida. .
“This year, the governor is making the largest investment in the Florida National Guard facilities program in Florida National Guard history,” Eifert said. “These investments will help us maintain our state of readiness and hopefully increase our strength, allowing us to continue to ensure the safety and security of the citizens of Florida.”
DeSantis said he plans to infuse state support for the National Guard with the following:
- $ 87.5 million to expand the existing Florida National Guard readiness center in Miramar and build three new Florida National Guard armories across the state that would house up to 1,500 guards.
- $ 8.9 million to strengthen the maintenance of existing armories across the state.
- $ 2.2 million to support the Florida National Guard’s Drug Enforcement Program.
- $ 5.1 million to support members of the Florida National Guard who wish to pursue higher education so that they can better support themselves and their families while pursuing their academic ambitions.
- $ 3.6 million to improve infrastructure at Florida National Guard bases and other projects
DeSantis also announced that it will propose that $ 12.2 million from the state budget be allocated to scholarships for children and spouses of deceased and disabled veterans.
In addition, the governor said he would recommend that $ 3.5 million from the state budget be spent on reestablishing a Florida state guard. The Florida State Guard would act as a volunteer force that would be able to assist the Florida National Guard in “state-specific emergencies,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said he hopes the $ 3.5 million will train and equip up to 200 members of the Florida State Guard.
“The reestablishment of the Florida State Guard will allow civilians across the state to be trained in the best emergency response techniques and have the ability to mobilize very, very quickly,” DeSantis said.
The Florida National Guard has been at the forefront of relief and recovery efforts related not only to natural disasters such as hurricanes, but also the ongoing battle to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“The National Guard has entered nursing homes and provided other tests and screenings to protect our most vulnerable,” DeSantis said. “When the time came to distribute the vaccines, the National Guard contributed to this response in a very, very important way. So we appreciate all the efforts that have been made over the past year and a half. It made a huge difference. . “
Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8680.