Broward County veterans, people with disabilities, and at-risk students were among those cut out of the budget as Gov. Ron DeSantis wielded his veto pen Thursday.
Four county programs that totaled $1.6 million were part of the $3.1 billion trimmed out of the state budget for 2022-23.
Among the Broward County casualties:
— Broward County Public School’s $500,000 for a program called “Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders” for at-risk and homeless students. The money would pay for college tours and graduation workshops and set students, particularly males, up with high-achieving upperclassmen for peer-to-peer mentoring.
— The Arc Broward’s $500,000 in funding would have paid for a generator to keep the nonprofit’s commercial kitchen humming during power outage emergencies. It would provide food for residents with developmental delays who are served there.
— Nova Southeastern University’s $300,000 funding would have helped individuals with autism better communicate and receive training on technology that will help them.
— The city of Sunrise’s $300,000 to renovate approximately 3,400 square feet of retail space for a wellness center would have programs that would bring together seniors, veterans, and children. These programs will improve emotional and physical wellness for residents of all ages and will also provide children with safe and educational after-school activities.
That such relatively miniscule items fell to the budget-slashing had Democratic Rep. Michael Gottlieb discouraged once again.
These are not pet projects, he said.
“The whole reason for being a public servant is to be able to help people like this,” said Gottlieb, who is Broward County’s delegation leader.
He particularly lamented the death of the Sunrise wellness center.
“We’re coming out of a horrendous two-year period of isolation and hardship,” Gottlieb said. “People need a place where they can hang out, be social, and feel comfortable. To defund these programs during a year of record surplus … it’s unfortunate and appalling at the same time.”