Results

Florida Senate

05/04/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/04/2019 13:49

Statement by Senate President Bill Galvano on the Conclusion of the 2019 Legislative Session

Tallahassee -

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) today released the following statement regarding the conclusion of the 2019 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature.

'During my opportunity to address Senators on the opening day of the 2019 Legislative Session, I spoke of my view that history does not judge the success of a session by the quantity of bills we pass, to the contrary, it is the quality of our actions that impacts our state for years to come. Nine weeks later, Senators can return to their home communities having advanced a number of key public policy enhancements and funding investments that respond directly to feedback from our constituents about their vision for the future of our state.'

Hurricane Michael Relief and Recovery

'The Senate, led by Senators Gainer, Montford, and Broxson, worked to address the ongoing recovery needs of our Panhandle communities devastated by Hurricane Michael. We dedicated significant funding to restore critical life-safety services to panhandle communities, build and provide affordable housing options for displaced families, rebuild local government infrastructure, repair critical county and municipal roads, and rebuild education facilities. Our K-12 Education budget includes additional funding to cover losses due to declined enrollment in impacted counties, and we also include funding to restore recreational opportunities and provide technical support for local governments to secure reimbursements. In total, actions taken by the Florida Legislature elevate the state investment in Hurricane Michael relief and recovery to over $1.85 billion.'

Education

'Our goal this session was to improve safety, expand our commitment to parent-directed educational choice, and elevate the traditional neighborhood public schools that have been the backbone of our education system for decades. We passed a comprehensive education agenda that creates the new Family Empowerment Scholarship to help more students from lower income families attend school in the educational environment their parents believe is best. This legislation, coupled with our state budget, supports teachers and principals with both a significant increase in flexible funding that can be used for pay raises as well as hundreds of millions for merit-based bonuses. We also passed critical school safety and security legislation to implement the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School Public Safety Commission, which will help keep Florida's students safe in schools across our state. In higher education, we reaffirmed our support for State Colleges and their vital mission in meeting the workforce needs of communities across our state.'

Infrastructure

'To help achieve the goal of strategically planning for future population growth, while at the same time revitalizing rural communities and enhancing public safety, we passed Senate Bill 7068, creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program within the Florida Department of Transportation. The time has come to prioritize critical infrastructure enhancements and to combine those efforts with innovations that enhance surrounding communities, while providing new opportunities for job creation. The benefits of this type of long-term investment in our infrastructure include regional connectivity that enhances trade and tourism, congestion mitigation and evacuation routes, as well as broadband, water, and sewer connectivity that helps preserve our natural resources while improving quality of life for residents in rural areas of our state.'

Environment

'Our balanced state budget funds a number of critical environmental priorities, including $686.8 million for water quality and protection. Specifically, we included $50 million to jumpstart water storage and treatment projects North of Lake Okeechobee. We also funded research that will help us understand, prevent, and mitigate harmful algae and red tide and created the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative to develop technologies and approaches needed to address the control and mitigation of red tide and its impacts.'

Tax Relief

'Since the Great Recession, the Florida Legislature has worked to reduce the tax burden facing Florida families and businesses in a broad-based and meaningful way. That progress continues this year as the 2019 Tax Relief Package offers Florida families a tax savings when they purchase supplies in advance of the upcoming hurricane season and as they are managing the cost to prepare children for the new school year. We also take another step to reduce the business rent tax, which will help the small businesses in our communities that lease property, and include targeted tax relief for the agricultural communities in Florida's Panhandle devastated by Hurricane Michael.'

'As we close out this session, I am grateful to my Senate colleagues for their tireless efforts on behalf of the people of our state. We enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside Speaker Oliva, our House colleagues, and Governor DeSantis on issues of critical importance, and I appreciate the joint commitment to maintaining the open and civil discourse that has been the hallmark of our form of government since its inception.'