This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.
In a state that depends on tourists, what happens when there are few to none? After months of stalling and insisting that lawmakers would not need to return to Tallahassee to balance the budget, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recently approved the largest financial vetoes in Florida history, canceling out more than $1 billion in spending for the upcoming fiscal year.
He called the cuts the "equivalent of the red wedding from Game of Thrones."
The state's revenue shortfall has ballooned to nearly $2.1 billion since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment in the state has soared to Depression-era levels and Medicaid rolls have swelled. Only some of the cuts are being supplanted by federal relief funds.
Florida initially avoided worst-case scenarios but is now seeing a surge in coronavirus infections, mere weeks after attempting to reopen shuttered businesses. Democrats, locked out of decision-making, have railed againstDeSantis. "Just lead, damn it. Just lead," said state Democratic Rep. Janet Cruz.
Despite calls to roll back reopenings, DeSantis is holding firm, saying, "When you have a virus that disproportionally impacts one segment of society, to suppress a lot of working-age people at this point, I don't think would be very effective."
Lynn Hatter is the news director at WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla.