The Florida state legislature is considering a budget proposal that would move $40 million of funding originally intended for state and local entities to strengthen their cybersecurity.
A new budget for the state’s upcoming fiscal year, obtained by StateScoop, proposes reverting $40 million, part of Florida’s Local Government Cybersecurity Grant, back into the state’s general fund.
Robert Beach, chief technology officer for the City of Cocoa, Florida, east of Orlando, said that the state grant has been instrumental in advancing the city’s cybersecurity defenses, enabling his agency to update its security measures and better protect critical infrastructure, public safety and citizens.
“These initiatives have become integral to our City’s safety and digital resilience,” Beach wrote in an email to StateScoop. “The potential discontinuation of this partnership poses significant challenges, as it would impact our capacity to maintain these critical programs at their current level.”
It’s unclear why the cuts are being proposed at a time when cyberattacks against state and local governments are prevalent in Florida. The state’s experienced several attacks in recent months, including a ransomware attack by the hacker group Black Cat on the state’s court system last October and a phishing attack that scammed Fort Lauderdale for $1.2 million in September.
“The support from this grant, however, is irreplaceable in its capacity to bolster our efforts, ensuring our community and citizen data remains safe and protected,” said Beach, who also serves on the Board of directors for the Florida Local Government Information Systems Association, an organization comprised of chief information officers, IT managers and technology decision makers from the state’s local government agencies. “The importance of continuing this partnership cannot be overstated.”
The budget’s full details will be hashed out before the end of the state’s legislative session in March.