Governor Ron DeSantis signed budget legislation for his state of Florida while vetoing over $3 billion in spending that would have included a potential spring training facility for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Republican governor “issued $3.13 billion in vetoes Thursday as he signed a record $109.9 billion budget for the fiscal year that will begin July 1,” reported WUSF, noting that the vetoes included $35 million for a sports complex in Pasco County which was slated to be a training facility for the professional baseball team based in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Reports quickly linked the veto to the recently published call to end gun violence by the Rays, with Outkick’s Bobby Burack writing, “DeSantis’s decision is in response to the Rays politicizing recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde ahead of a matchup with the Yankees in May.”
The team had tweeted last week following the mass shooting in a Uvalde, Texas elementary school, asking for donations to be made to the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
“We all deserve to be safe — in schools, grocery stores, places of worship, our neighborhoods, houses and America. The most recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have shaken us to the core. The Tampa Bay Rays are mourning these heartbreaking tragedies that took the lives of innocent children and adults,” the team wrote. “This cannot become normal. We cannot become numb. We cannot look the other way. We all know, if nothing changes, nothing changes.”
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 26, 2022
DeSantis made no comments about slashing the funds due to this reason but cited the state’s spending priorities in the face of crippling inflation due to the Biden administration’s policies.
“What we’re doing in the budget is making sure that we’re meeting the obligations, making sure we’re funding key priorities but also, protecting the state against what very well may be a Biden-induced recession,” the popular governor, who is running for reelection, said at a signing event at the retirement community, The Villages.
Gov. DeSantis Signs Freedom First Budget https://t.co/nxr9QWnD25
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 2, 2022
But the governor’s spokeswoman, Christina Pushaw, appeared to retweet the Outkick story as shared by Newsweek’s Josh Hammer.
“DeSantis is giving a voice to the people who do not want their sports and children’s companies on the front lines of the cultural divide,” Burack wrote in the Outkick piece. “Florida residents had called for DeSantis to veto the spending anyway, saying that Floridians’ tax dollars should not help fund a facility for a professional sports team.”
“The Florida Senate has argued against this case, by listing the proposal as a ‘Sports Training and Youth Tournament Complex’ and not mentioning the Rays. However, the Tampa Bay Times first reported the money would mostly help cover a new facility for the Rays,” he added.
The beauty of this move partially lies in the fact that, much like Disney with Disney World, a professional sports franchise represents a pretty fixed hard asset. It’s not the kind of thing you can easily pick up and move.
So like Disney, the Rays will sit there and take it.
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) June 2, 2022
But DeSantis has made no mention of the Rays’ public stance on gun control or that it had anything to do with the vetoes which also included $650 million for a new 4,500-bed prison and $195 million slated for building a prison hospital. Another “$20 million a year that was included in a budget-related bill for a H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center facility in Pasco County” was also vetoed, according to WUSF.
“Other Tampa Bay-area cuts include $75 million for an environmental and oceanographic sciences research and teaching facility on the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, and $65 million to build new appeals courthouses in Lakeland and St. Petersburg,” the outlet added.
However, what was included in the budget approved by the GOP-controlled statehouse in March were provisions for a 5.38% raise for all state employees as well as a 5% pay raise for Florida law enforcement officers. The Associated Press reported that funds were also set aside “for up to $5,000 signing bonuses for new or out-of-state law enforcement officers who join policing agencies in Florida.”
Today, I signed Florida’s Freedom First Budget, which supports our law enforcement, invests in our K-12 education for students and teachers, and preserves Florida’s natural resources – all while maintaining record reserves and enacting the largest tax relief in state history. pic.twitter.com/90ODjhIk3e
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 2, 2022
“You see the big surplus, you see the tax cuts, you see the record number of line-item vetoes, you see a budget that is much more fiscally responsible than our competing states,” DeSantis said. “And yet even with all of that, this budget has the highest amount of per-student funding for K-12 schools in the history of the state of Florida.”
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