State pay hike with veto of food bank expansion

gov.  Ron DeSantis announces his proposed state budget for 2022-23 at the Capitol on Dec.  9, 2021.

Local lawmakers, lobbyists and labor leaders said the $109 billion state budget Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Thursday is a qualified success for Tallahassee and Leon County.

The celebration over a historic 5.3% across-the-board pay raise for state employees and a new $15 minimum wage for state workers was partly overshadowed Friday morning by the vetoes of $1 million earmarked to the Second Harvest of the Big Bend and a $50,000 appropriation for the Leon Works Expo and Junior Apprenticeship Program.

More:What was cut from Florida’s budget? Search Gov. DeSantis’ veto list

“That’s kind of crushing. The two things that get vetoes are food and jobs,” said Jeff Sharkey of the Capitol Alliance Group, Leon County’s lobbyist at the state capitol. “There really are no more important issues than food and jobs so that’s disappointing.”

Though the longtime lobbyist was quick to add that the pay raise “is huge” for the region.

The Leon Works Expo connects youth with employment opportunities. It also receives funds from Tallahassee and Leon schools.

Rep.  Ramon Alexander, Sen.  Loranne Ausley, Rep.  Jason Shoaf and Rep.  Allison Tant make up the Leon County legislative delegation.

State Rep. Allison Tant, D-Tallahassee, reviewed DeSantis’ 12-page veto list that totaled more than $3 billion, saw the two local projects that were axed and said “overall Leon County did well.”

Tant also found the Second Harvest veto disappointing.

The food bank serves 17 North Florida counties and planned to use the money to buy delivery vans and refrigeration equipment.

“Feeding America is looking to expand Second Harvest’s service area with mobile food pantries into food desert neighborhoods,” said Tant, who had submitted the project request.

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