When Governor DeSantis kicked off his state-of-the-state address, I broke down every agenda item he laid out and discussed the implications in the state session. Why? Because he’d literally already acted on very thing. In other words, if DeSantis says something’s a priority, he’s expecting action. Let’s review what he outlined and what happened during the session. He outlined 14 priorities in his speech to open the session, 12 of which required a response by the state legislature to enact his policy preferences. Here they are and here’s what happened.
Hurricane Michael recovery (said he’s received a “historic” commitment by President Trump) Yes, while still waiting to see additional federal assistance, money totaling $1.85 billion has now been allocated by the state for Michael relief.
Environmental reforms – Highlighted by his record proposed $2.5 billion Everglades Restoration project, overhaul of the South Florida Water Management District, and combating algae blooms and red tide. Appointment of a Chief Science Officer to advise on future planning. Yes, more than $1.1 billion were allocated specifically to environmental causes in Florida for the upcoming year, a record for Florida, including funding for the Everglades Restoration Project that exceeded even what the Governor had requested in year one.
Economics – Stated that Florida will remain a low tax state and will never have a state income tax. Encouraged businesses from high tax states to relocate to Florida. He’s proposing $330 million in additional tax cuts with an emphasis on cutting property taxes. Partial, $121 million in tax breaks approved
Infrastructure – Spoke of the need to prioritize modernization of infrastructure and the need to reform Florida’s property insurance market (AOB). Yes, reform ending Florida’s Assignment of Benefits for future property insurance claims in excess of $3,000 passed. 97% of Floridians with property insurance should benefit. Also, the infrastructure package for the expansion of the Turnpike to Tampa, highways connecting Florida to the Georgia border and Collier to Polk counties passed.
Occupational licenses – Stated that there’s less red tape in becoming a Marine Sniper than a licensed interior designer in Florida and reforms for occupational licenses are generally needed. No, failed to pass in this session.
Higher Education – Governor DeSantis stated that he’s proud Florida has the top ranked university system in the country and he’s begun to tell the story outside of the state. He emphasized the need for a focus on financial, technology and health-care education improvements. He emphasized the need for skills/trade related education emphasis. He also advocated workplace education and grant programs for internships. Yes, in total $783 million more will be spent. This includes Civics education internship programs funded through grants and millions more allocated to vocational colleges like Daytona State, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and $76 million for college construction projects with FAMU the biggest beneficiary.
Grade School Education – Ending Common Core. Streamlined testing. Emphasis on American Civics. Those were cited in that order. Next up teachers. He advocated for his proposed program boosting teacher pay by $423 million and replacing the existing bonus plans with more rewarding and broad-based bonus opportunity. Last but not least, based on the amount of time he spent making the case, was the expansion of the current voucher system. The Tax Credit Scholarship program. Yes, yes and yes. The average per student spending will rise $242. Education in the upcoming year will feature expanded vouchers for charters and private schools gain access to vouchers for the first time. More than 18,000 students statewide will have new access to these resources and schools in the 2019-2020 school year.
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