Florida’s 2020 State Session & Gov. DeSantis' Agenda Pt. 2

Governor DeSantis’ state of the state address focused on six core categories for policy advocacy for this year’s session. In the first part, I covered the economy. Now, let's talk about the environment and education.

Gov. DeSantis stated that Florida’s commitment to dedicate a record $625 million in 2019 to improve water quality netted an additional $200 million in federal resources we wouldn’t have otherwise received and stated the same level of commitment is needed for at least the next three years. He cited the need to finish the work on the EAA reservoir for Lake O’ runoff water, combating non-native species and the raising of the Tamiami Trail. In terms of new policy, he called on the state legislature to approve his water quality proposal created based on the recommendations of the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force. This includes increasing penalties for those who dump wastewater into waterways including local governments. He chastised local governments who choose to pay fines for illegally dumping rather than fixing their infrastructure. He also called on the state to invest in infrastructure to combat increasing flood risks around the state. 

As for education, Gov. DeSatins'emphasis on vocational education is paying off. He held Miami-Dade up as an example of a school system in which graduates can gain industry certifications upon graduation leading to immediate employment. He highlighted apprenticeship programs as a key area of emphasis going forward. And of course, teacher pay. DeSantis said, "Our approach to K-12 education rests on (1) recruiting and retaining great teachers, (2) promoting educational choice so parents, particularly low-income parents, can place their child in a good school, and (3) measuring results through accountability." He laid out his plan for an increase in starting teacher pay to $47,500, which he indicated would be 2nd highest nationally. He stated it will improve recruitment and retention. Additionally, he stated that over 100,000 current teachers would receive raises between $5,000 to $10,000 and bonuses would be available for up to $7,500 for teachers and $10,000 for principals with an emphasis on Title I schools. He cited the success of the newly created Family Empowerment scholarship, which 13,000 families benefited from last year. Additionally, Governor DeSantis highlighted the benefits of expanded school vouchers and the success of charter schools. As he highlighted, 70% of Charter school voucher recipients are minorities and 53% low income and the results were impressive. Quoting the governor... Based on the 2019 NAEP results, if Florida’s charter school population was its own state, it would rank: #2 in the nation for 4th-grade reading, Tie for #2 in the nation for 4th-grade math, #1 in 8th-grade reading and Tie for #5 in 8th-grade math. Last but not least, he cited the need to replace common core. He didn’t provide detail regarding the proposed new curriculum but stated it will soon be announced and will include an emphasis on civics and the US Constitution. 

In part three, we’ll address the governor’s positions on healthcare, social programs and insurance reform. 

Photo Credit: Governor’s Press Office

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