When Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s $91 million legislative budget last week, he also exercised his right to veto certain line-items he deemed superfluous.
Among the prospective funding that met the chopping block was a $250,000 allocation for St. Petersburg’s Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.
Established in 2006, the 4,000-square-foot museum is in the Jordan Park neighborhood.
Line item 3207A, which had been introduced as House Bill 4599, would have expanded the facility to more than 8,000 square feet.
State Sen. Darryl Rousson, D-St. Petersburg, a staunch supporter of the Woodson Museum, sponsored it as Senate Form 2411.
“While I share some disappointment with the backers, and the community that has supported the Carter Woodson Museum and its legacy, the governor was more than thoughtful in many of the vetoes, as well as the line items he allowed to go through,” Rousson said.
“It does not deter me or others as to how important it is to tell the cultural history – so we’ll come back at it again next year.”
The City of St. Petersburg purchased the building from the St. Petersburg Housing Authority in 2015. The museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits, along with artifacts and memorabilia relating to the city’s rich African American history, and hosts area art shows and other community events.
The funding request called for “capital equipment to operate as a museum to include secure storage for art and artifacts, as well as a hanging system, exhibit cases, and other museum-related equipment.”
The idea, said Rousson, “was not only expansion, but to enhance the infrastructure and improve on it, so that it could have more exhibits, more quality of exhibits, and continue the 13-year history of telling the story of a community. Black history is all of our history.”
He noted that Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall was also the recipient of a line-item veto, to the tune of $500,000.
The Legislature’s Committee Week starts Sept. 16, Rousson pointed out, and not long after that they’ll begin to build a new budget for 2020-2021.
“It took texting-while-driving eight years to pass,” he said. “I’ve learned in this legislative process that progress sometimes comes incrementally, or on the second or third shot. So you just keep trying.”