The governor of Florida, a permanently-in-the-news state where nearly 40,000 people have died from COVID-19, continued his efforts toward extending the length of the pandemic this week by threatening school officials’ salaries.
In a statement to CBS Miami on Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis’ office said the state’s Board of Education could withhold the salaries of school officials who go against a recent executive order that barred mask mandates from being instituted.
“With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed,” the statement from DeSantis’ office reads. “For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law.”
The latest update follows the vague mention of “withholding state funds from non-compliant school boards” in DeSantis’ widely questioned executive order.
When reached by Complex for comment, a rep for the Florida Board of Education shared copies of letters sent to superintendents and school board chairs in which potential recommendations for a withholding of funds “in an amount equal to the salaries” are mentioned.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, meanwhile, has already responded to DeSantis’ latest move by noting that he will not allow his decisions “to be influenced by a threat to my paycheck.”
Throughout the pandemic, Florida has remained a consistent source of concern for health experts. Earlier this month, for example, stats showed that one in three nationwide COVID-19 cases over the prior week came from either Florida or Texas.
DeSantis’ continued pandemic-complicating policies have also become a source of nationwide discouragement, given that truly leaving the pandemic era behind is entirely dependent on keeping things smart, which would appear to be a difficult ask for the governor.
Earlier this week, comedian Bill Burr received digital applause for his podcast-shared comments about DeSantis.
“These fucking piece of shit politicians,” Burr said. “He knows that’s what his fanbase wants him to do so that’s what the fuck he’s gonna do. Unbelievable.”
Similarly, prolific horror master Stephen King told Stephen Colbert on Monday’s Late Show that it’s “entirely possible” DeSantis could end up being a villain in a future book of his.
“It isn’t just COVID,” King, who typically spends half the year in Florida, said. “Ron DeSantis is probably not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, at the best of times. He’s got that deer-in-the-headlights look.”
On that note, make a vaccine appointment here if you haven’t already done so. And if you live in an area with a particularly abysmal vaccination rate, don’t ditch the mask.