Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis commended the Florida Legislature for working with him this session to achieve unprecedented victories for Floridians in a wide range of policy areas that will benefit Florida for decades to come.
“This session marks the beginning of a new day in Florida,” said Governor DeSantis. “From our environment, to education, to public safety and healthcare, we have put people above politics and made a commitment to our future generations that we will leave our state better than we found it. We did not achieve this alone. I thank the Florida Legislature, especially Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Jose Oliva, for their dedication to these important issues. We may now begin implementing these critical policies for Florida families and our children.”
From Everglades restoration and protecting Florida’s water resources, to expanding school choice for students and families, to keeping the state’s communities safe, the 2019 Legislative Session included key victories for Florida families, as outlined below:
- Historic funding levels with well over the recommended $625 million for Everglades restoration and protection of our water resources, which puts us on track to secure $2.5 billion over four years:
- Over $400 million for Everglades restoration– the highest amount of Everglades funding ever.
- $100 million for springs restoration.
- $50 million for targeted water quality improvements.
- $40 million for alternative water supply.
- $25 million to combat blue green algae and red tide.
- Highest ever per pupil spending at $7,672 per student – this is an increase of over $242 from last year and the largest increase since FY 2013-14.
- Secured more money than ever to recruit, retain and reward great teachers and principals through the Best & Brightest Teacher and Principal Program, and eliminated the SAT and ACT scores as a factor for determining eligibility.
- Proposed and secured a significant expansion in school choice options for families:
- Creation of the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, which expands educational opportunities for children of families with limited financial resources.
- Continued legislative and funding support for the Schools of Hope Program and expanded the locations where the Schools of Hope Program can operate.
- Secured funding for students on the waiting list for the Gardiner Scholarship and a pathway to clear the waitlist for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.
- Continued support for equitable treatment of capital outlay funding for public charter schools.
- Achieved $10 million in funding dedicated to career and technical education for the newly created Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program.
- Received $10 million to fund teacher professional development in computer science and reward those teachers for earning credentials to teach high quality computer science courses.
- Passed civic literacy legislation to ensure Florida has the best curriculum in the nation for civics education.
- Strengthened school safety through a $180 million investment in the Safe Schools Allocation for school resource officers and school hardening measures, as well as $50 million for school hardening grants and the continued investment in and expansion of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
- Prioritized the safety of our Jewish communities amid rising threats of anti-Semitic violence and received $2.5 million for security funding for Jewish Day Schools – the highest ever.
- Passed landmark legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for Floridians by creating programs for the safe importation of FDA-approved foreign pharmaceuticals.
- Protected the will of Florida’s voters by signing legislation allowing for the use of smokable medical marijuana.
- Endorsed innovative healthcare policies, like the Patient Savings Act, which allows consumers to receive rewards for choosing low cost, high quality medical services.
- Secured nearly $120 million to continue our state’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
- Endorsed legislation prohibiting local governments from adopting sanctuary policies to enhance public safety and increase cooperation with the federal government on immigration enforcement.
- Secured funding to keep VISIT FLORIDA, our state’s marketing arm, so we can continue promoting Florida’s vital tourism industry.
- Achieved over $200 million for affordable housing, a critical need for many of Florida’s families.
- Secured $40 million for the Job Growth Grant Fund for job training and public infrastructure projects, $16 million for Enterprise Florida and $6 million for Space Florida.
- Secured over $300 million in tax relief for Florida families, including a property tax reduction, a 5-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, a 7-day disaster preparedness holiday and a reduction in the business rent tax.
- Called for meaningful assignment of benefits reform to fight insurance fraud and its impact on rising insurance costs for Floridians – after several years, this was the year we were able to get reform done.
- Dedicated over $100 million to repair and replace housing in the hurricane-ravaged Northwest Florida.
- Secured $2.2 billion for hurricane response and recovery.
- Supported legislation implementing Amendment 4 to make sure that voting rights are only restored upon successful completion of all terms of a sentence and victims receive the restitution they are owed.
- Passed needed changes to the Citizen Initiative Process to ensure that Florida’s Constitution reflects the will of Florida voters, not paid, out-of-state special interests.
- Supported legislation making significant reforms to our elections processes.
- Improved government efficiency and delivered a leaner government by consolidating the Agency for State Technology in the Department of Management Services. This will protect our state’s data and utilize innovative cloud technology.