Florida lawmakers Friday gave final approval to a bill that would restock a pool of money that Gov. Ron DeSantis can distribute in emergencies and create a $50 million program to help local governments recovering from Hurricane Ian.
The House unanimously passed a bill (SB 2-B) that would add $650 million to the state Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund, which has been used to assist communities after Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole.
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The bill, which was approved Wednesday by the Senate, also creates the $50 million Local Government Emergency Bridge Loan Program.
That is designed to help local governments in hard-hit areas to continue to operate, House sponsor Mike Giallombardo, R-Cape Coral, said during a news conference Friday.
“These are critical funds that will help us in the future,” Giallombardo said. “We still have a lot more work to do.” The bill will go to DeSantis, who is expected to sign it. The Emergency Preparedness and Response was established last year with $500 million.
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Weeks after Ian hit in September, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which is made up of House and Senate budget leaders and meets periodically, held an emergency meeting to add $360 million to the fund.
The fund is down to about $420 million, and the state Division of Emergency Management estimates expenditures related to Ian and Nicole are expected to reach $2 billion.
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