Were Democrats hit harder when it came to vetoes on local spending? Many felt a sting after Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Office published some $511 million in line items nixed from the state budget.
Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, a St. Petersburg Democrat, saw two priority projects vetoed. Those included $1.15 million for The Well Center for Trauma Recovery, Wellness, and Healing Justice, as well as about $181,000 for Operation PAR, a licensed residential substance use treatment program specifically catering to pregnant and parenting women.
“As a representative of our community, it is my duty to advocate for programs and initiatives that prioritize the well-being and safety of our constituents. I firmly believe that these appropriation projects were instrumental in addressing pressing issues and providing essential support to those who need it most,” Rayner-Goolsby said.
“The decision to veto these projects not only disregards the needs of many Floridians but targets Black and Brown people, who are often more likely to experience violent crimes and substance use disorders. These cuts fail to acknowledge the long-term benefits and cost savings that such initiatives would have offered to our community. I strongly urge my fellow lawmakers to reaffirm our commitment to providing comprehensive services and care to survivors of violent crimes and support pregnant and parenting women in their journey toward recovery.”
Rep. Rita Harris, an Orlando Democrat, felt frustrated by a number of environmental projects that were killed even as DeSantis boasted about water spending.
“I firmly disagree with the decision to veto $500 million from the bipartisan supported state budget,” Harris said.
“Unfortunately, many good projects that would have relieved Florida’s taxpayers with everything from flood water mitigation to neighborhood resource centers were vetoed because the Governor is disconnected from the needs of average Floridians. However, I will never stop fighting for Floridians to be healthy, safe and prosperous.”
Rep. Robin Bartleman, a Weston Democrat, felt frustrated her region felt a brunt of budget cuts. The Legislature had budgeted nearly $263,000 for rehabilitation of triple 96-inch metal drainage culverts, just one key Broward environmental project lost to the veto pen.
“The water projects were very important to my community, especially the infrastructure project for the South Broward Drainage district,” she said. “Inland flooding is a real issue for southwest Broward — I am grateful it made it through the process and am disappointed it was vetoed. I will try again next year.”
Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Miami Democrat, saw many projects she championed get cut from the signed budget. “I’m very disappointed,” she said.
“The fact is that he (DeSantis) represents ALL Floridians and to veto a senior citizen program, a School STEM program and a jobs program is absurd. Especially since he continues to boast about the surplus. If you look at the programs that were cut, you’ll see that programs were cut that provide substantial assistance to communities. I will say that I’m happy that I fought for the programs to get in the budget because that was my job and I’ll continue to work for my community.”
Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, saw some projects survive while others were vetoed. She expressed concern about whether the politics of certain communities played an outsized role in determining cuts.
“Florida is a diverse state and Democrats often represent largely populated parts of Florida that generate billions of dollars in revenue,” she said. “Every part of the state deserves to be funded, especially parts of the state that generate so much revenue in the first place.”