Gov. DeSantis Proposes $3.5M, 200-Member Florida Civilian Guard
By Eric Mack | Friday, 03 December 2021 08:53 AM
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing $3.5 million to establish a 200-person volunteer Florida State Guard under his direction to supplement the federal-controlled Florida National Guard.
"We are proud of our veterans and active-duty military members and proud of what our communities do to support them," DeSantis wrote in a statement announcing the proposal. "Florida is one of the most veteran friendly states, and I think there are very few places that you would rather be on duty than in the state of Florida.
"As a veteran, I really appreciate what everyone who wears the uniform does in our state and am excited about these proposals – they will go a long way and have a meaningful impact. In Florida, we are going to continue our momentum of supporting our military, supporting our veterans and being good stewards of our military installations."
Florida would join 22 U.S. states with a state guard recognized by the federal government.
The move was panned by 2022 Democrat gubernatorial challenger Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., as a "handpicked secret police," The Hill reported.
But DeSantis' move comes as President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are threatening pay, suspension, and potentially permanent jobs at the National Guard with their COVID-19 vaccine mandate that officially reached its deadline this week.
The plan comes in DeSantis' military budget, which exceeded $100 million, including:
- $87.5 million to expand the existing readiness center in Miramar and to establish three new armories in Homestead, Gainesville, and Malabar.
- $8.9 million for existing armory maintenance.
- $2.2 million for a new headquarters for the National Guard Counter Drug Program.
- $5.1 million to support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher-education degrees.
- $3.5 million to establish the Florida State Guard.
- $12.2 million in scholarships for children and spouses of deceased or disabled veterans.
- $3.6 million to improve base infrastructure and support projects.
This budget will be supplemented by DeSantis' proposed budget to support law enforcement, education, Everglades restoration, and water quality projects.