DeSantis Veto Targets Broward County HIV Program

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office announced $1 billion in vetoes from the state’s fiscal year 2020-2021 budget on Monday, including two programs that serve the LGBT community.

Last year, DeSantis vetoed $131 million from the budget.

“Despite the present challenges Florida faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget ensures the state’s priorities are protected and funded,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Our current economic landscape is vastly different since the Legislature passed this budget in March. As Governor, I must remain a mindful steward of taxpayer dollars.”

Broward County’s HIV Test and Treat program will not be receiving $800,000 from the state government. Run by the Florida Department of Health in Broward, the program works to promote routing testing, PrEP, testing and treatment, and community outreach. 

In Central Florida, The Center Orlando is missing out on $40,000 for its mental health counseling program after its appropriations request passed both the House and the Senate. The Center had recently added a third counselor to help with the rising needs of the community.

“We are saddened that the $40,000 appropriation for mental health counseling was vetoed by Gov. DeSantis, especially when we are seeing a rise in requests for services, both around the Pulse anniversary and pandemic related,” George Wallace, executive director of The Center, said in an email. 

He says they will “seek alternative funding” to keep the program going, but with The Center’s two signature fundraisers canceled, it will not be easy.

Other programs and projects that won’t be funded run the gamut, from education and human trafficking prevention to breast cancer screenings, affordable housing and infrastructure improvements.

Originally published in South Florida Gay News

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