State budget cuts will affect dozens of South Florida services

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $1 billion in spending for the coming fiscal year

South Florida foundations and services hit hard by Florida's budget cuts
South Florida foundations and services hit hard by Florida's budget cuts

MIAMI – Who could forget the smile, and the heartbreak we all felt back in 2013 when we lost 10-year-old Bella Rodriguez-Torres?

Her six-year battle with cancer is what sparked the Live Like Bella childhood cancer foundation. The foundations has grown to the point where it now provides services in more than 30 countries.

But it will lose $750,000 in state funding after Gov. Ron DeSantis cut $1 billion in spending from the state budget that runs from July 1 through June 30, 2021, partly because of shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is very devastating and very hard to hear that this cut happens, because it will very significantly impact the way Live Like Bella can continue to support families that are going through the worse battle imaginable,” said Raymond Rodriguez-Torres, Bella’s father and the foundation’s chairman. “These children need us now more than ever. And we won’t stop.”

The foundation is not alone in feeling the state’s budget crunch. Out of an 18-page list of vetoes, over 100 entities in South Florida are affected.

The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust wanted $250,000 for what they call permanent supportive housing, the bridge housing program for homeless people who don’t do well in a congregate living facility.

“We would have used the funds to prefund these immediate placement options at places like Camillus Somerville, which is essentially like paying rent in an apartment but in a setting that is very close in supervision,” said Ron Book, chairman of the Homeless Trust.

“Like everybody else’s revenue, our revenue is shrinking as well.”

Because the Homeless Trust gets its funding from county food and beverage tax, the money has dried up. And they recently had to find more than $7 million to cut.

Some other examples of cuts that affect South Florida include:

  • Broward County’s health department is not getting $800,000 they requested for their HIV test and treatment program.
  • FIU will not be getting $3.1 million meant for scholarships and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives.
  • South Florida Behavioral Network won’t be getting $4 million.
  • And the city of Homestead is not getting $500,000 for their breast cancer screening.

See the full 2020 veto list below:

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