Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) is proposing a pilot program that would allow businesses to pay state fees in cryptocurrency, utilizing his budget proposal to make the Sunshine State a more friendly state toward the evolving digital currency.
Unveiling the Florida $99.7 billion budget proposal, dubbed the “Freedom First Budget,” for the 2022 legislative session starting July 1, DeSantis proposed $700,000 for crypto-related pilot projects to explore the use of blockchain technology that would accept state fees from Florida businesses in cryptocurrency.
“We’re going to have a program to allow Florida businesses to pay state fees in cryptocurrency,” DeSantis said during a press conference unveiling the budget at the state capitol in Tallahassee on Thursday. “I think you’ve seen in South Florida; it’s been a huge thing. A lot of people have flocked to South Florida over this issue. And so, our view as the state government, this is something that we welcome. And we want to make sure that the state government is crypto-friendly.”
Under DeSantis’ budget highlight proposal, the cryptocurrency-related projects would be devoted to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Department of Financial Services. $250,000 would go towards setting up a pilot program where people could pay motor-vehicle title certificates through Blockchain technology at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The Department of Financial Services would receive $200,000 to implement a payment service so businesses could pay fees for incorporation with cryptocurrency to the Department of State. And, $250,000 would go to the Agency for Health Care for a separate pilot project that uses Blockchain technology to authenticate Medicaid transactions and identify potential Medicaid fraud.
DeSantis said crypto enthusiasts have flocked to the Sunshine State, particularly in South Florida, where Miami had become the Wall Street for crypto companies. Emerging as a crypto hub, businesses like FTX, eToro, and Blockchain.com have expanded their footprint in Miami.
These efforts have largely been led by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, dubbed the “Crypto Mayor,” who has been a leading proponent of cryptocurrency, advocating for cryptocurrency-friendly policies and regulations while luring crypto businesses to the city.
DeSantis’ move now gives Suarez state-level support, as the Miami mayor seeks a proposal to integrate cryptocurrency into city government, allowing city workers to have the option of receiving their salaries or a portion of it in Bitcoin. Suarez brought forward the plan earlier this year to city commissioners, proposing a resolution to have Bitcoin be considered as another payment vehicle to city workers and directed the city manager to procure a vendor to offer employees the ability to receive a percentage of their salary in the digital currency.
Suarez became the first mayor in the nation to launch of MiamiCoin, a cryptocurrency where investors or miners mint the token on Stacks, and it is transferred to CityCoins. Since “MiamiCoin” launch in August, CityCoins has sent $17.8 million to Miami. Suarez estimates the effort could generate as much as $60 million for Miami over the next year and ultimately “revolutionize” how the city funds programs that address poverty and other societal issues.
Over the past year, several financial and tech firms escaped New York and Silicon Vallet, setting up offices in Miami, including Goldman Sachs, SoftBank, and Blackstone. Blockchain.com announced in June it was moving its headquarters from New York City to Miami, citing the city’s “welcoming regulatory environment serving as a hotbed of crypto innovation. The American Airlines Arena Miami Heat’s basketball stadium in Miami this year was rebranded FTX, after the cryptocurrency exchange platform run by billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.
The Legislature will consider DeSantis’ budget proposals during the legislative session, set to kick off on Jan. 11. Lawmakers have the final responsibility to adopt the budget, but DeSantis has line-veto power over provisions within it. A final budget version will likely be signed into law in the late spring or early summer.BitcoinBlockchainCryptoCryptocurrencyFloridaFrancis SuarezFreedom First BudgetFTXGov. Ron DeSantisMayor Francis SuarezMiami CoinTallahassee