As the Florida Legislature opens its 2020 session, Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed House and Senate members Tuesday during his State of the State address.
He discussed some of the “bold” steps the state took in 2019 around such areas as education, the environment, health care and public safety, and stressed that “we have much more to do.”
On this week’s Florida Matters, host Robin Sussingham breaks down DeSantis’ speech with political journalist William March.
Sussingham said DeSantis shunned controversy during the address, noting he didn’t specifically discuss climate change or affortable housing.
“He talked about really the things he felt were going well and had been going well in the past year,” Sussingham said.
March agreed, saying the speech “was not long on specific policy proposals. It was long on praising what’s been done recently, what was done in the last legislative session as opposed to suggesting a lot of new initiatives.”
DeSantis used the same approach with abortion. He did not use that term, instead discussing how the state champions adoption and urged the passage of a parental content bill.
“For the most part, I think what he’s done is he’s tried to emphasize, in this speech, areas where he feels like he and the legislature either already agree or can come to an agreement, like asking for the parental consent bill for abortion,” March said. “He already knows the Republicans are eager to pass that.”
March used the example of E-verify, the federal system DeSantis supports that would require employers to conduct immigration background checks for new hires.
“E-verify is one of the areas where there could be conflict,” March said. “He brought that up (and) did not suggest any compromise or suggest where he would be will to compromise on that issue.”
March offered other takeaways:
Taxes: “One thing that was significant was the first actual proposed initiative mentioned in the speech after he spent some time talking about keeping Florida’s taxes low. He talked a lot about how wonderful it is that Florida has low taxes but didn’t propose any action on that subject.”
Sewage: “One thing that’s significant in the Tampa Bay area is that he’s coming out strongly in favor of harsher penalties on cities that dump untreated sewage because of inadequate treatment systems. That rises at least in part from problems that have happened in St. Petersburg. Other than that, continuing to spend at the rate of about $650 million a year for three years on springs and water cleanup projects.”
Education: “He praised educational choice, which means the availability of charter schools or vouchers for private schools. No new specific initiatives in that area, but he promised a new set of academic standards coming soon from the Department of Education, and one specific there is more focus on civics and history in those academic standards.”
DeSantis’ proposed $47,500 minimum teacher salary: “That would be a big increase for starting teachers in a lot of – but not all of – Florida counties. Then of course, in the Democratic responses, you heard the arguments why Democrats and many teachers believe that DeSantis’ proposal is inadequate.”