DeSantis slashes millions from budget meant for LGBTQ organizations across Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis made a series of line-item vetoes from the recently passes state budget, most of which removed funding for LGBTQ organizations across Florida.

“It is a punch in the gut, especially when you consider yesterday, DeSantis signed into law the first anti-LGBTQ bill in the past 23 years in Florida history, attacking trans kids, but saying it wasn’t about that,” State Representative Anna Eskamani said following the vetoes.

DeSantis defended his decision and the overall state budget at a press conference. “We will be signing a budget that responsibly supports our men and women in law enforcement, our K through 12 education, students, and teachers,” DeSantis said. “Conserves and protects our great environmental and natural resources.”

Part of the funds cut from the budget included $150,000 for the Orlando United Assistance Center, which provides mental health services and counseling for the survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. DeSantis also vetoed $750,000 for The Zebra Coalition, a group that plans to transform a portion of a rundown Orlando hotel into housing projects for homeless LGBTQ youth.

Funding for LGBTQ projects and organizations was funneled into the Health and Human-Services portion of the state budget. In all, DeSantis vetoed $10,364,565 in HHS funding.

The budget includes an additional $212 million in community-based mental health funding for the next fiscal year, and services will continue to be provided, according to Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for the Governor.

“Governor DeSantis has been a champion on mental health since day one — and he absolutely supports every Floridian who has experienced such horrific trauma, which has a lifelong impact on survivors,” Pushaw said. “To this end, the new budget ensures that Floridians in need, including LGBTQ Floridians, will continue to have access to vital support and the mental health resources they need to survive and thrive.”

The budget includes $1,000 bonuses for first responders throughout Florida as a way of saying thank you for their service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It also allocates more than $625 million for environmental causes, including more than $415 million for Everglades restoration projects and $302 million for targeted water quality improvements.

“This is really significant,” DeSantis said. “This is a central issue for our state.”

DeSantis lauded the fact that Florida remained open while other states locked down during the pandemic, allowing the state’s economy to remain healthy. “The result was our economy really started to rebound,” DeSantis said. “We obviously believe having a healthy economy undergirding [the budget] really makes an impact.”

Watch DeSantis’ press conference here: