Gov. DeSantis vetoes Northeast Florida priorities, including coding program for Black youth

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Some member projects got axed from the $101.5 billion budget.

Gov. Ron DeSantis did not spare Northeast Florida priorities from his $1.5 million list of vetoes.

DeSantis, who signed the fattest state budget in history — a $101.5 billion document padded with virus relief funds from the federal government — approved more than $100 million in spending, but took the scythe to a few local projects along the way.

Among them: HB 3169, a coding program for young Black males in Jacksonville that would have commanded $1 million in state funds. That request for Coding in Color was sponsored by Rep. Angie Nixon, a first-term Jacksonville Democrat, and South Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones.

The program is designed to provide coding instruction to students with an interest in math and science through an introduction to computer science foundations.

The veto caught Ronnie King, the listed requester on behalf of Duval County’s 100 Black Men group, by surprise. He expected that with all the money in this year’s budget, a STEM program for youth who need it the most would survive the veto list.

“It’s going to hurt for sure,” King said, with the organization now scrambling for money for pivotal summer programming.

Nixon says the ask will be made again next year.

Coding in Color was just one of a number of regional vetoes.

DeSantis also vetoed $200,000 for a Jacksonville homeless mission, a bipartisan request from former Democratic caucus leader Sen. Audrey Gibson and Republican Rep. Wyman Duggan.

“This project would distribute 130,000 nutritional, hot cooked meals and packaged foods annually to serve homeless and low-income persons in the Jacksonville area. For 117 years, the Clara White Mission has addressed food access and food insecurity. In addition, the program has been addressing hunger relief during COVID-19. The primary goal of the food and meal program is to intervene where there is limited or lack of access to cooked and non-perishable food,” read the Senate version of the Clara White Mission Daily Feeding Program for the Homeless and Low Income request.

DeSantis axed a $250,000 appropriation for Flagler College’s perennial ask, the Hotel Ponce de Leon Preservation and Restoration. That request was a third of the $750,000 for the same project approved by the Legislature and vetoed by DeSantis in 2020. Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson carried that one.

Stevenson was upbeat despite the denial.

“The Governor’s Office was good enough to call. We had a great year overall,” the St. Johns County Republican said.

Sen. Hutson’s ask for $50,000 for the St. Johns Schools Classroom to Careers/Flagships program, which was intended to train heavy equipment operators, was vetoed also.

Jacksonville Beach was slated also to get $150,000 for license plate readers, but DeSantis vetoed that, along with requests from other cities for similar programs. Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Cord Byrd had carried that local ask.

While the city of Jacksonville had significant wins, including the $6 million from the state for septic tank phaseout that was its only official ask, legislators clearly didn’t get everything they wanted this year.

But Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was happy enough.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Karen Warland

    June 2, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    Why is there not a proposed coding program for ALL youth?
    Especially for a $1M proposed allocation – shame on Angie Nixon and Shevrin Jones. Students should be selected based on academic merit, interest, general acumen and other factors, NOT race. Segregation is a horrific step back in time – a time we collectively fought to fight and eliminate. We will not regress!

    • David Hurley

      June 2, 2021 at 4:32 pm

      There is almost $100+ million dollars for all kinds of schools and curriculum…that makes this $1 million just a part of bigger efforts…they all tend to be for schools with nothing but white students and others that lean more to POC..something for everyone…
      .all should get money as a betterment to our State in the future.

    • tjb

      June 3, 2021 at 8:58 am

      Frankie M. is correct. Also, DeSantis will deny that he is a racist but he is working hard to destroy the black and brown communities with his racist policies.

      • Matt C.

        June 9, 2021 at 10:10 am

        So, Frankie, it sounds like you are saying that if it was a program for whites only, it would obviously be racist but are you saying that a program for blacks only is not? Interesting point of view if that’s what you are saying.

  • Frankie M.

    June 2, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    Should’ve called it Coding for Whites Only. DeSantis would’ve been all over Faux news promoting it for his culture wars campaign. You live & learn.

  • JoAnne

    June 4, 2021 at 7:33 am

    Surprisingly it is not easy to “code” as people who have no knowledge of it claim. There are also a multitude of programming languages so the chances that the “coding” programs would help anything are slim to none. Even with a degree it is difficult to get a job in software development (coding). That’s why Biden dropped it from his list of solutions.

  • Johny Reb

    June 6, 2021 at 7:08 am

    Why should blacks get special treatment? Should have been coding for all youth. Singling out the money for black males only is wrong. Affirmative action is wrong. It discriminates, the one thing many blacks are against, HYPOCRITES

Comments are closed.


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