Floridians Are Paying the High Legal Cost of DeSantis’ Culture Wars

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By Giselle Balido

April 11, 2023

While the state remains at the bottom of national rankings in health care, school funding, and education, taxpayers have spent millions of dollars to fight the governor’s war on what he calls “woke ideology.”

The culture wars waged by Gov. Ron DeSantis have come with a huge price tag for Floridians. In fact, Florida taxpayers have spent nearly $17 million on attorneys and legal fees stemming from lawsuits challenging the Republican’s culture-war campaigns, according to an investigation by The Miami Herald.

“My caucus and I have spent hours and hours talking to Floridians about the problems they are facing, and these have nothing to do with these ‘culture wars’ we’re fighting,” Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book told Floricua. 

RELATED: 1 In 8 Florida High School Seniors Won’t Attend a State School Due to DeSantis’s Education Policies

That is because more than four years into the DeSantis governorship, Florida remains at the bottom of state rankings in health care, school funding, and education. Teachers’ salaries are among the lowest in the nation, and unemployment benefits are lower than in any other state. The state also ranks number one in the US in housing unaffordability, with 56.5% of renters spending 30% or more of their income on housing. 

A Paltry Record

And yet, many of the battles fought, including over laws that limit voting; curbing gender-related health care; influencing speech in the workplace, college campuses and classrooms; and banning peaceful protests, have yielded small wins for the Republican governor. The courts have thrown out or left in legal limbo many of these legislations. 

RELATED: President of Major Teachers’ Union Condemns DeSantis Control Over Florida Classrooms

Still, this paltry record doesn’t seem to deter DeSantis and state GOP legislators from spending even more money to fight legal battles stemming from the governor’s attack on what he calls “woke ideology.” The Florida House and Senate approved two $113 billion budgets this week that include:

  • Another $4 million to spend on litigation during the 2022-23 fiscal year, which starts July 1.
  • $1.3 million for litigation expenses to DeSantis’ Department of State.
  • $3 million for the Department of State to spend on lawsuits, plus any money left over from the $1 million the agency received in 2022.
  • $2 million for litigation expenses to the Board of Governors.

“This whole culture war that we’re seeing is more than a cultural war,” Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the first Gen Z American to be elected to District 10 in Orlando, told Floricua. “When that’s all [DeSantis] focuses on, he’s not working on affordable housing, he’s not working on lowering costs for working families, he’s not working on raising wages or helping small businesses. It’s real violence against communities.”

For the next two weeks, both chambers of the state legislature will negotiate a spending plan. Once they reach an agreement, it will be sent to Gov. DeSantis.



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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