Gov. DeSantis vetoes $3M for first responder, public safety facility at Big Bend Technical College

An estimated 30-50 students would have benefited yearly from the facility.

Less than a year after Hurricane Idalia devastated Big Bend communities, testing the resolve of emergency personnel tasked with rescuing people there, Gov. Ron DeSantis is saying “no” to funding for a facility where future first responders could train.

With his veto pen, the Governor nixed a $2.96 million earmark for Big Bend Technical College.

The move came about three months after he presented the school with a $5 million check for the construction of a 10,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing teaching facility. A photo of the occasion is the background for the school’s Facebook page.

The vetoed funds would have gone toward building a 7,000-square-foot building in which the school would offer a new postsecondary firefighter and paramedic program, a dual-enrollment public safety telecommunications program, and an expansion of an existing commercial vehicle driving program.

Other planned expenditures included the purchase of a fire truck, rescue vehicle truck equipment, simulators and telecommunications equipment.

Tallahassee Republican Sen. Corey Simon and Port St. Joe Republican Rep. Jason Shoaf asked for $4 million for the project through identical appropriation requests. State lawmakers reduced it by more than $1 million during the past budget conference.

The facility would have benefited an estimated 30-50 students yearly. According to the Taylor County School District, which owns and operates Big Bend Technical College. Displaced workers from the recently closed Georgia Pacific Mill in Perry and supporting industries would have been targeted for enrollment.

“In addition to the opportunity for students to have different career training opportunities, (Big Bend Technical College) will produce firefighter graduates that will handle residential, commercial and wildfires and is an investment in the safety and health for our community. The training of 911 operators will serve all facets of public safety within the region,” the applications said.

“The program graduates will fill vacancies within the region which in turn provide lifesaving services, (and) the community has a need to re-employ/retrain a large sector due to closing of the Georgia Pacific Mill.”

DeSantis vetoed $900 million from the budget Wednesday, reducing spending to about $116.5 billion, or about $1 billion less than the current year.

“Some of the stuff I don’t think was appropriate for state tax dollars. Some of the stuff are things that I support but that we have state programs for,” DeSantis said during a press conference.


Gabrielle Russon contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • rick whitaker

    June 12, 2024 at 7:35 pm

    once again, desantis decides what’s good and what’s bad. that is what a tyrant does.

  • Simon White

    June 12, 2024 at 9:21 pm

    I dunno what’s happening here but any funding that relates to damage from climate change will have institutional AGW denialism as a toppest priority. If that can’t be guaranteed from that institution, it is hard to see how DS could treat them as anything but an enemy.

    FL is going to get hit increasingly hard and often so the savagery of state govt denialism can only increase with time. The loss of $ locked up in real estate will be staggering, nobody can stand in the way of that much money and survive.

  • Pete 9313

    June 12, 2024 at 10:18 pm

    I despise desantis. Yet. $3M to teach 30 students firefighting?? Aside from each and every firefighter I have ever known ( and firefighters run in my family from NYC) learned their careers in firehouses. Not in schools. $3M for 30 students? Why not just give them each $50,000 and let them learn on the job as ‘interns’ pretty much like every other firefighter has learned saving Florida 1/2 the money. Really. Why are students being taught firefighting in college. You cut public school education budgets; ban books; remove diversity from schools; teach the good things about slavery; cancel science courses and humanity courses; spend millions s on football stadiums; and then expect your now ‘go in dumb come out dumb too” college students to pay the state tuition to learn firefighting ??? Seems to me that Casey’s husband got this one right

    • Armando Danorma

      June 12, 2024 at 10:24 pm

      This is why we need education. It’s $3M to build the facility, which would then teach 30 to 50 students per year, not $3M to teach 30 students.

      • Tjb

        June 18, 2024 at 4:58 pm

        Thank you for the clarification.

Comments are closed.


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