More than $3 million in state funding for Miami-Dade County was cut Wednesday as Gov. Ron DeSantis finalized the 2021-22 budget.
The state’s most populous county fared better than its neighbors to the north. Palm Beach County saw more than $6 million worth of projects vetoed, while Broward County saw $4.2 million in cuts. The state’s final budget checks in at $101.5 billion.
Democratic Rep. Joe Geller sponsored the two largest Miami-Dade projects vetoed Wednesday. DeSantis cut $500,000 to help build a pedestrian bridge in Sunny Isles Beach and another $495,000 for road improvements on Northeast 153rd Street in North Miami Beach.
Democratic Rep. Christopher Benjamin co-sponsored the latter proposal with Geller.
Three projects from Democratic Rep. Kevin Chambliss also got the ax Wednesday. Two proposals focused on water infrastructure projects in Homestead. One called for $300,000 to help build a new water pump station, while the other slotted $100,000 to flush out sediments and maintain chlorine levels.
Chambliss, who represents House District 117 in Miami-Dade County, also backed a $150,000 fund for reducing the spread of Laurel Wilt Disease. That condition can affect laurel trees in the region. None of those proposals, however, made it into the final budget.
Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis asked for $250,000 to use the CauseClass program to educate young community members about global issues.
“The goal is to educate our youth on being a global citizen,” Aloupis’ proposal explained, “helping them understand their interconnected role in the world in order to develop their own role in their local community to work with others to make our planet more peaceful and sustainable for all.”
Though DeSantis eliminated that funding, along with a project Aloupis sponsored in Broward County, Aloupis said he was thankful for his other projects, which did earn funding in the final budget.
“While we will continue to work next year to advocate for funding for the two projects that were vetoed, I am very pleased with the more than $10 million that was included in the budget to support programs across our district — programs that will support water infrastructure, cancer research, educational initiatives, workforce training, the Underline, and more,” Aloupis told Florida Politics.
Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez responded after DeSantis cut more than $173,000 to fund after-school programs for underprivileged children through the Li’l Abner Foundation. Rodriguez was behind a Senate proposal seeking that funding.
“While I don’t know the Governor’s methodology for keeping or removing items from the budget, I can only assume the projects he vetoed may have been duplicative of funding in other areas,” Rodriguez said.
“While all projects I sponsored are of importance to my community, I understand not all can be approved due to budget limitations. I will certainly try to seek out the reasoning and may try to get these funds again next year.”
Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones, who saw three projects cut, was more critical. Two of those axed projects were in Broward, but a third would have sent $100,000 to fund a senior support program in Opa-locka.
“Budgets are a statement of priorities, and it is unfortunate that the District 35 priorities that were vetoed did not align with Gov. DeSantis’ priorities,” Jones said Wednesday.
“Many of those programs cut were critical to the people of District 35 as they impact the long-term health, safety, and prosperity of our community. In order to best position Florida for the future, we need to make smart investments in these areas and our people — youth crime prevention, mentorship and senior programming, and professional development for our teachers, all vetoed, shouldn’t be on the chopping block.”
Other Miami-Dade projects vetoed include:
— $275,000 for the Florida Venture Foundation, which works with at-risk youth, sponsored by Rep. David Borrero
— $250,000 to fund internships opportunities in Washington for FIU students, sponsored by Rep. Anthony Rodriguez
— $200,000 for a nutrition education program in Miami-Dade, sponsored by Rep. Dotie Joseph
— More than $153,000 for the Centro Mater after school program in Little Havana, sponsored by Sen. Ileana Garcia
— Nearly $52,000 for Miami-Dade’s mosquito control efforts, sponsored by Rep. Alex Rizo
— $40,000 to pay for a generator and exterior lighting at the emergency operations center in Biscayne Park, also sponsored by Joseph
DeSantis vetoed about 150 line items pitched by individual lawmakers out of about 700 included in the budget.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this post. Republished with permission.