UFF-FIU Legislative Affairs Chair Jim Burns:
On June 29th, Governor DeSantis signed the state budget for fiscal year 2020-2021. An announcement on the Governor’s Website noted that despite the challenges confronting Florida due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget “ensures the state’s priorities are protected and funded.” An examination of the $1 billion in spending vetoed by Governor DeSantis, however, demonstrates whose interests he does not consider a priority. The veto list heavily targets K-12 and higher education funding, programs for the poor, youth, women, senior citizens, and those with special needs, aid to local governments, water treatment projects, and food security, among other social spending cuts.
Governor DeSantis delivered the state budget with the pretext that the COVID-19 pandemic had forced him to make difficult spending choices. As in previous fiscal crises, however, the state government has chosen to prioritize low, or no, taxes for corporations and the wealthy and public sector austerity for those most in need.
The UFF-FIU Legislative Affairs Committee will closely monitor legislation and funding decisions that impact higher education in the State of Florida, communicate that information to our colleagues, and formulate strategies to advocate for education as a crucial public good. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a host of social, political, legal, and economic injustices as well as the long-term failure of state and national legislation and policy into stark focus. We, as a union and a university can and must do better.