Lawmakers Agree on State Guard Money

The Senate on Tuesday agreed to a House proposal that will bulk up the Florida State Guard, which Gov. Ron DeSantis revived last year. As part of budget negotiations, the Senate agreed to spend more than $100 million to train, arm and equip the mostly volunteer organization.

Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Chairman Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, said the Senate

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“was convinced that it was the right thing to do.”

The proposal includes nearly $49.5 million for aircraft and helicopters, $22.7 million for equipment storage, $10 million for a guard headquarters, $2.7 million for maritime craft and $1.5 million to create a “Digital Forensic Center of Excellence” that, in part, will concentrate on human-trafficking and child-exploitation cases.

The state guard, promoted as assisting the Florida National Guard during emergencies, was initially set up during World War II to replace Florida National Guard members who were deployed abroad. It went inactive in 1947 but remained in state law. As it was revived last year, the state guard was promoted as assisting the Florida National Guard during emergencies.

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In his budget proposal released in January, DeSantis requested funding for the state guard go from $10 million in the current year to more than $95 million in the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1, with a goal of increasing the size of the organization from 400 to 1,500 members.

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