Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis, Pasco County, Florida won’t be getting a new youth sports complex anytime soon. DeSantis carved out the $35 million allocated to the county for the project from the state’s annual budget after the Tampa Bay Rays pledged a $50,000 donation to the Everytown for Gun Safety’s Support Fund. It was a move considered to be both retaliatory and vindictive.
In case you missed it, Ron DeSantis sanctioned the Tampa Bay Rays for trying to combat gun violence in America.
Way to go, Florida. You’ve picked a political fight with Disney and a professional baseball team, shifting financial responsibility on to taxpayers. pic.twitter.com/vaR8ePwPBV
— Ryan Shead (@RyanShead) June 4, 2022
CNN reported DeSantis as explaining that he took the action because he doesn’t “support giving taxpayer dollars to professional sports stadiums.” What he told the reporter afterward, however, reveals his true intention, saying at a news conference that it’s “inappropriate to subsidize political activism of a private corporation.”
The so-called “political activism” DeSantis claims is a series of tweets posted by the Rays two days after the Uvalde, Texas school shooting. Both the Rays and their opponents in a series of games this week, the New York Yankees, decided not to focus their social media postings on their matchup, opting instead to both share statistics involving gun violence on their respective Twitter pages. Here’s an example of what the Rays posted on Twitter:
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 26, 2022
With the help of State Senator Danny Burgess (R-Pasco County), the rapidly growing area of Pasco County had hoped the sports complex would bring tourism dollars to the area. It’s a reliably Republican-voting county. The complex was designed to offer youth sports, amateur sports, general recreational activities, and host sports tournaments. The only people who will be hurt by DeSantis’ act of undisguised retribution are the children and residents of Pasco County.
While the county had hoped the new complex would help convince the Rays to move their training to the city of Odessa – the team had nothing to do with it. In fact, the Rays would’ve needed to commit $35 million of the team’s money to help build the facility, which was something the team’s management had yet to agree to.
DeSantis claims to care about tax-payer-funded subsidies. Yet, during the peak of the pandemic when millions of Floridians were left without their unemployment checks due to the state’s system failure, DeSantis rewarded corporations operating in the state with a $543 million tax refund. According to the media outlet Latino Rebels in 2021, DeSantis approved a tax levy of over $1 billion for ordinary Floridians.
A 2018 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported that Florida’s lowest-income citizens pay five and a half times as much of their income in taxes as the state’s wealthiest.
“Those earning less than $18,700 — contribute 12.7 percent of their incomes to state and local taxes, while the wealthiest top 1 percent — those with incomes of more than $548,700 — contribute just 2.3 percent of their income,” the study showed.
From Disney to the Special Olympics – and now Major League Baseball – Ron DeSantis is doing everything he can to reverse the image of the Republican Party as the most business-friendly of the political parties.
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