Today’s DeSantis press conference, April 18

Last November, State Rep. Wyman Duggan (R-Jacksonville) submitted an appropriation request for the 2022-23 budget asking for $8 million for the Leon Haley, Jr., MD Emergency Department and Trauma Center at the UF Health Jacksonville.

The new trauma center would be named after former hospital Chief Executive Officer Leon Haley Jr., who died last year in a jet-ski accident. UF Health Jacksonville operates what is known as a Level 1 trauma center, a designation indicating it provides the most comprehensive trauma care.

The simple request took a less than transparent path to funding – with DeSantis taking credit, not Duggan for the funding.

The bill was assigned to the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, which passed it as a consent agenda item on Jan. 18 and sent it to the Appropriations Committee for consideration. Then on March 12, the item was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration, only to be included later in the final budget when House and Senate leaders met behind closed doors. The amount went for $8 million to $80 million.

Today Gov. Ron DeSantis took credit for the funding.

During a presser UF Health Jacksonville, Gov. DeSantis announced he would sign off on spending $80 million to replace the trauma center at UF Health Jacksonville with a “state of the art” facility – other words he wouldn’t use his veto power to strike it from the budget.

“Dr. Leon Haley dedicated his life to helping people and those who knew him were inspired by his leadership and commitment to bettering his community,” said Gov. DeSantis in the written press release that accompanied the presser.

“It is fitting to honor his legacy with a facility that will serve Jacksonville and the surrounding communities for generations to come. In Florida, we are putting patients first and making sure that Floridians have access to quality care.”

Rep. Duggan wasn’t mentioned in the press release.