Dorothy cared deeply for her constituents, and she leaves behind an impressive legacy of expanding economic and educational opportunities for all Floridians.
She was a shrewd and effective legislator who served Brevard and Volusia County families well in the Senate. I had the good fortune of knowing Sen. Hukill for the past 10 years. I first met her while serving together in the Florida House. I quickly came to respect Dorothy for her outstanding negotiating skills, sharp wit and passion for service. Dorothy was a friend and a trusted leader in both the House and Senate.
Dorothy began her political career as a councilwoman for Ponce Inlet and later served as mayor of Port Orange in Volusia County. By the time she got to Tallahassee in 2004, she already intimately understood the legislative process and how to effectively advocate for her constituents. She was proud of the communities she represented. She relished the opportunity to see constituents in Tallahassee, welcoming groups with new inventive signs outside her office every day.
When I arrived in Tallahassee in late 2008, Florida was firmly in the midst of the Great Recession. Dorothy Hukill was one of the House members leading the charge to turn our economy around.
Although Dorothy did not represent Brevard County at the time, she strongly supported the aerospace industry and eagerly helped me pass legislation to attract commercial space opportunities to our area. With Dorothy’s help, we strengthened the economic toolkit of Space Florida, reorganized Space Florida’s board of directors to better position the agency for success, and made it easier to develop facilities at the Kennedy Space Center for commercial space purposes. Dorothy also worked to expand economic incentives for aerospace companies, which were critical in reviving Brevard’s economy.
We should all be grateful for Dorothy’s commitment to the space industry. Her efforts helped lead us where we are today, with a booming commercial aerospace sector that has replaced the space shuttle program with thousands of high-paying, skilled jobs.
In addition to her advocacy for economic development, Dorothy also believed strongly in lowering taxes. Her legacy on tax issues will appear on the ballot this November as Amendment 2, which seeks to extend the annual cap on property tax increases for non-homestead properties, such as businesses and rental units.
Dorothy was one of the legislators responsible for spearheading the effort to put the original tax limitation for non-homestead properties in the state Constitution in 2010. She recognized that, just like homeowners, business owners, renters, and snowbirds could not afford to be hit with punishing property tax increases year after year.
During her last term in the Senate, Sen. Hukill chaired the Education Committee, overseeing policy decisions affecting students from pre-K through college. Education was a true passion of hers, especially in terms of empowering young people to make good decisions.
Dorothy tirelessly advocated for improving financial literacy education. She wanted our state education standards to include more emphasis on money management in high school so students knew how to balance their checkbooks, pay their bills, and understand financial documents when they graduated.
And she was instrumental in expanding educational opportunities for students by restoring full funding for the Bright Futures Scholarship program and offering more school choice options to parents and students in elementary, middle and high school.
While Dorothy only served Brevard County for two years, I can assure you she was strongly focused on another issue important to us: our water. Dorothy had a solid environmental record. She supported efforts to restore the Everglades, protect sensitive lands and beaches, and fund projects to clean up the Indian River Lagoon.
Dorothy Hukill courageously battled cancer while serving Florida families with integrity, determination and commitment. She loved our state, and she loved helping to improve the lives of her constituents. Dorothy led a life well-lived and leaves behind an impressive legacy of service. Our next state senator will have big shoes to fill, indeed.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Dorothy Hukill and her family. May she rest in peace.
Republican Steve Crisafulli is a Merritt Island agri-businessman and former speaker of the Florida House.