Rep. Paul Renner gave a preview of the 2021 Legislative Session Thursday afternoon to the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Renner, in line to be the next Speaker of the Florida House, offered a mostly buoyant read of the near term future.
“Even with the devastating impact of the COVID shutdowns, you see Florida roaring back,” Renner said, even as a short-term worry was presented by a “dramatic drop in revenues” earlier this year.
“It’s not been a good time for the country or the state,” Renner said, “but the good news is we don’t quit and we’re coming back.”
Renner lauded Gov. Ron DeSantis for striking a balance in recent months between the “need to address the virus in a meaningful way” and a “need to get people back to work.”
To that end, the Legislature can help. Renner suggested some solutions that will find their way into policy discussions in the coming months.
Among them: “COVID liability for businesses,” a GOP wishlist item bound to be addressed this spring in Tallahassee.
Also on tap, Renner suggested, will be a rededication to “workforce development,” including “career and technical education,” with an eye toward “aligning the jobs of tomorrow with the educational system.”
One open question: “Do we want to continue to subsidize scholarships equally?”
Renner advised that the Legislature should “take a hard look at that, let the market play a little more role into these decisions,” so that students who may have gone into less marketable fields can have a “meaningful life and not a boatload of debt.”
The Speaker-Designate also addressed potential base closures via the base realignment process in the incoming Joe Biden administration.
“We’re due for another round,” Renner told the Chamber audience.
Renner noted that Florida is more insulated from closures than some states, with the Legislature buying adjacent property to bases, allowing the state to “reap additional mission sets because we’ve been smart about planning ahead.”