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DeSantis vetoes funding for new airplanes, USF facility, Rays spring training site

In total, the governor rejected $3.1 billion in spending on Thursday, while signing off on a $109.9 billion state budget.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed a $109.9 billion state budget bill and vetoed $3.1 billion in spending.

Among the line items that didn't make the cut were $1 million for a food harvesting program for low-income or unemployed people and millions for college renovations.

The governor's full veto list, which is available online, includes more than 11 pages worth of line items that were not approved this time around. Page 1 lists a rejection of $75 million in funding for an Environmental & Oceanographic Sciences Research & Training Facility at the University of South Florida's St. Pete campus.

On Twitter, Democratic State Rep. Ben Diamond condemned DeSantis' veto of that $75 million expenditure.

"Truly outraged by this veto," Diamond tweeted. "This center would have made St. Petersburg the preeminent hub for marine science & climate change research and served as a critical economic driver for Tampa Bay. Further, it's a disturbing continuation of Gov. DeSantis' attacks on higher education."

Page 10 of the governor's veto list describes a Sports Training and Youth Tournament Complex that would have cost $35 million. As the Tampa Bay Times reported, the rejected line item would have helped fund a new baseball facility in Pasco County that would have likely been leased to the Rays for spring training.

DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw retweeted Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer, who shared a link to an article suggesting the decision was made in response to the baseball team taking a position on gun violence prevention.

Speaking to reporters Friday, DeSantis signaled he already planned to veto the funding before the Tampa Bay Rays tweeted about gun violence.

"Companies are free to engage or not engage in whatever discourse they want, but clearly it's inappropriate to be doing tax dollars for professional sports stadiums," the governor said. "It's also inappropriate to subsidize political activism of a private corporation."

Pushaw also drew attention to one of the governor's other vetoes, in which he rejected a measure to acquire two new airplanes to be used by government leaders. The proposal would have meant spending $20 million for a pair of state-owned jets.

"The Legislature passed SB 2512, which in part, creates the executive aircraft pool for two new aircrafts that could be utilized by over 100 government officials, available 24/7, 365 days a year, requiring additional 17 staff positions within the Department of Management Services for the purpose of providing multiple state-owned aircrafts for executive air travel," DeSantis wrote in a letter explaining his decision to Secretary of State Cord Byrd.

"This is an inadvisable expense, especially under current economic conditions, and could have unintended consequences given the breath of the officials included in the authorization," the governor added. "For this reason, I withhold my approval of SB 2512 and do hereby veto the same."

For a summary of what didn't get vetoed, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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