Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made news involving funding for athletics in the Sunshine State in a variety of ways in the last week. He announced a veto of public funding for the Tampa Bay Rays in light of their politicized anti-gun rights statements and also said the Special Olympics dropped a planned vaccine mandate for upcoming competition in Orlando.
One of the items DeSantis vetoed was a $35 million outlay for a Pasco County facility designed to be a spring training facility for Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. That decision came in response to the team politicizing the recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde just before a series with the New York Yankees.
In a Twitter post, the Rays announced that the team would be donating $50,000 to the anti-Second Amendment organization Everytown for Gun Safety’s support fund.
Even without the controversial statement in support of federal gun control, many Floridians had called on DeSantis to veto the spending subsidizing the baseball franchise anyway. Many strongly oppose the use of public tax dollars to pay the way for billionaires who own professional sports teams.
Even though the corporate media and many members of the Florida state Senate tried to cast the spending proposal as going toward a “Sports Training and Youth Tournament Complex” without mentioning the pro team, the first reports on the proposal indicated that the money would largely go to pay for a new facility for the Rays.
DeSantis announced on Friday that the Special Olympics dropped its plan to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its games in Orlando set to begin June 5 running through June 12.
The governor’s administration had announced it would fine the organization up to $27.5 million for violating a state law prohibiting such a mandate.
DeSantis said that the state wants every athlete to be able compete in the Special Olympics. He added that he did not believe that it would be fair to marginalize some of them for a “decision that has no bearing on their ability to compete with honor or integrity.”
The relevant Florida law prohibits any business or public event from requiring proof of vaccination for COVID-19. The Special Olympics also said that any person who was unable to register previously because of the proposed mandate would now be able to fully participate.
DeSantis announced vetoes on Thursday amounting to a total of $3.1 billion from the Florida state budget put together by Republican lawmakers. Even with the vetoes taken into account, this year’s state budget is the largest in Florida history.