Gov. Ron DeSantis slashed a $250,000 item from the 2022-23 state budget Thursday that would have helped cover college courses and an internship program run through Florida International University.
The money would have covered student enrollment at The Washington Center (TWC), which since 1975 has welcomed more than 60,000 students to the nation’s capital for advanced studies and real-world experience. FIU facilitates the program, which is open to students statewide.
Miami Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez requested the funds on Sept. 30. Miami Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis filed a companion request in the House on Nov. 16 with co-sponsorship from Hollywood Democratic Rep. Marie Woodson.
“The funds will enable Florida public university students to spend a summer or semester in Washington, D.C. interning for a private company, non-profit organization, federal agency, or Member of Congress,” a summary of the program in Rodriguez’s request form said. “Students also participate in a range of leadership and professional activities while earning college credit (and) will leave … with a much better understanding of the professional world and how to successfully join the workforce post-college graduation.”
The vetoed funds represent just 0.008% of $3.1 billion DeSantis removed from Florida’s annual budget — a record sum “by a wide margin,” a press note from the Governor’s Office said.
After the Governor signed off on it, the budget still contained $109.9 billion in spending plans, $8 billion more than in the year prior.
DeSantis attributed the spending uptick to keeping Florida’s economy open, which he said “has enabled the state to outperform the nation in jobs, growth and business formations.”
The so-called “Freedom First” budget includes $800 million for teacher pay raises — the largest increase in state history — as well as $549 million for workforce education programs, $400 million for safe school and mental health initiatives, $125 million for nursing education programs to assist with nursing shortages and a per-student investment of $8,143 in the Florida Education Finance Program, a year-over-year increase of $385 per student.
It also includes about $630 million in various earmarks for FIU alone.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that the program is open to public university students across Florida, not just attendees of Florida International University.