Gov. DeSantis Called Upon to Veto $35 Million of Florida’s Money Approved for Baseball Training Facility for the Rays

Toby Hazlewood

A misuse of state funds?

The ink is barely dry on Florida's state budget which was approved at the conclusion of the state's legislative season. Yet one of the items that made it through is already attracting a fair amount of controversy and criticism for Governor DeSantis and the state's leaders.

It's a sum of $35 million for the building of a new baseball facility in Pasco County that will include a number of baseball fields and a stadium - earmarked for spring training for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The spending was approved in so-called 'sprinkle list' of items that receive funding within the state budget. While Governor DeSantis could use his line-item veto power to remove the expenditure, many are wondering if he'll yield to pressures to do so.

A pro training facility or a youth tournament complex?

The funding request was submitted by Republican Senator Danny Burgess.

Confusingly, it didn't position the funding request as being for the build of the Rays spring training facility, but instead described the purpose as being for "planning and construction of a sports training and youth tournament complex".

The facility that's planned to be built will certainly be available for youth sports, but it's puzzling that the explicit purpose of it as the Rays training facility seems likely to have always been the purpose (or one of the main reasons at least).

What's worthy of Florida's money?

The Florida state budget is enormous - lawmakers approved the expenditure of $112 billion in this year's legislative season. There were many items that received funding that have been universally applauded - a base salary of $50k for police officers and $47.5k for teachers were popular items.

The approval of a $1000 bonus for the state's first responders was also well-received.

As well as financially rewarding those in certain high-value professions, the legislature also approved a number of tax cuts and tax holidays totaling $450 million, and $1 billion to help the state cope with the high levels of inflation being felt across Florida.

It would be expected that politicians use their power to fund expenditure that's going to win them popularity, and which aligns to their partisan agenda.

Another 'sprinkle list' item that was immediately vetoed by Governor DeSantis was $2 million proposed by Senate President Wilton Simpson (a Republican). The money was proposed for long-acting reversible contraception for low income women to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and the life-changing effects this could have for them.

Whether the governor vetoes the money for the Rays baseball facility remains to be seen.

What do you think about the state funding sports facilities for use by pro sports teams? Should Governor DeSantis veto this expenditure? Let me know in the comments section below.

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