Funding for a Pulse memorial in Orlando has become a bargaining chip in the final days of Florida's legislative session.
The Florida Senate this year originally budgeted $245,000 to fund a memorial at the site of the 2016 mass shooting. But the funding appeared and disappeared through the day on Wednesday as budget conference negotiations evolved.
The Orlando Sentinel reports the money was in place as of Wednesday evening. Hours laters it was yanked, but Orlando lawmakers told Florida Politics they had confidence the funding would return. Lawmakers plan to complete budget talks today.
The Senate late Wednesday presented a counter offer of $500,000 to be included, but there was still resistance in the House.
Top House economic development budget writer Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, told local outlets that while he’s considering the offer, nothing has been agreed to yet.
“I know there is support for the project. I’m optimistic that we can get it done,” said Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an out lawmaker who has fought for funding the past three years.
The money will go toward a memorial being planned by the onePulse Foundation.
Orlando’s LGBTQ community has noted that state funding has yet to materialize for the memorial, while the Florida legislature immediately set aside money for a similar memorial for victims of the Parkland shooting.
At the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, 17 students and faculty at the school were killed. In the Pulse shooting in June of 2016, 49 people were murdered before a shooter was killed by police.
Florida Representative Anna Eskamani, who represents the area where the Pulse shooting happened and where the memorial will be, told the newsletter 60 Days it was important for the state to give both tragedies equal acknowledgement.
“We are asking for parity to the Parkland memorial funds, and I think that it’s the right thing to do when 49 mostly queer, black and brown people were killed at Pulse,” Eskamani said.