WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A Florida judge handed Governor Ron DeSantis an important win after ruling a budget request did not violate an injunction against enforcing the “stop woke act” which the governor signed last year.
Right after Christmas, the governor’s office of policy and budget sent a letter to state colleges and universities – requesting a full accounting of state dollars going to fund “programs and initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and critical race theory.”
Some professors believe this is just another way for Tallahassee to exert control over what happens on campus.
“We must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology," said Governor DeSantis in his inauguration speech.
A group of professors asked a federal judge to block DeSantis’ request – claiming it violated the judge’s own injunction temporarily blocking enforcement of the governor’s “stop woke” legislation.
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"It doesn’t seem to be looking at revoking the entirety of performance funding, but it is focused on revoking funding for programs that the governor and his supports don’t agree with," said Florida Atlantic University faculty member and president of the United Faculty of Florida, Andrew Gothard.
However, Judge Walker ruled that the governor’s request did not violate the injunction.
A decision praised by the governor’s press secretary Brian Griffin said: "The governor, as chief executive of the state, has every right to ask how public dollars are being spent by public state entities, like state colleges and universities. In fact, that is good government.”
"Colleges are the place for students to explore new ideas and ways of looking at the world – and politics shouldn’t be a part of that," said Gothard.
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Earlier this month – he encouraged state schools to skip the survey.
“These are adults, these are adults who have the constitutional and fundamental right to talk about what interests them and believe what they wish to believe. And to learn about any subject matter under the sun," said Gothard.
The governor’s office has not said specifically how it intends to use the information collected from the schools. Still, education commissioner Manny Diaz said it’s essential for Florida’s taxpayers to know how much money is being spent on programs that put race, not character, at the center of discussion.
The Governor’s office also told CBS12 they are reviewing the spending information now and that the details will help them to prepare policy and budget proposals for the 2023 legislative session which begins in march.