Central Florida lawmakers denounce Betsy DeVos' plan to cut Special Olympics funding

Days after U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced cuts to federal funding for the Special Olympics, U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, Val Demings and Darren Soto joined in chorus Thursday to denounce the decision.

It's an issue that affects what happens in their own backyard, as Orlando is set to host the 2022 Special Olympics – an event that's expected to provide a $61 million surge to the local economy, according to a news release from the congressional members. The upcoming 50th anniversary games are set to become the largest humanitarian event in Florida history.

In a letter to DeVos, who comes from Amway Center/Orlando Magic royalty, the congressional members stated that they'd do whatever it takes to prevent the proposed cuts.

"The Special Olympics is dedicated to empowering people with intellectual disabilities, and the administration's proposal to de-fund its programs is callous and misguided," the members wrote, noting that the Special Olympics is the largest global sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities. "Congressional support for the Special Olympics has been longstanding, strong and bipartisan – and we intend to keep it that way." 

Since the administration announced its decision to cut funding earlier this week, DeVos has stood firm on her 2020 budget proposal.

"Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations," DeVos said in statement Wednesday.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.