Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield celebrated victories for the Republican caucus and deemed 2021 a successful Session Friday after the hankie dropped and lawmakers officially adjourned. From liability protections to school choice, she said conservative priorities advanced as the state also provided for environmental efforts.
“At the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, the Senate Republican Caucus joined together with a shared vision to pass bold measures bringing relief and recovery to Floridians, while ensuring our state economy prospers once again,” she said.
“Over the past 60 days, we’ve worked to make this vision a reality and deliver on those very promises.
The pandemic response was especially important, Mayfield said. COVID-19 liability protections for business were a leadership priority. So was fixing Florida’s unemployment system.
“Our caucus passed strong COVID-19 liability protections for Florida’s health care providers and businesses. We owe a debt of gratitude to the heroes on the frontlines of the pandemic and I am pleased that our 2021-2022 budget provides well-deserved bonuses to state and local first responders, teachers, and child care providers,” she said.
“The pandemic has shed light on Florida’s antiquated reemployment assistance program, so we passed a comprehensive measure to modernize, streamline and provide more accountability for Florida’s reemployment assistance program, complemented by funding in our budget to help the Department of Economic Opportunity execute these changes.”
She touted an e-fairness measure, criticized by Democrats as a tax hike on consumers, as a win for the Florida economy.
“We passed legislation to prevent an unexpected tax hike on Florida businesses, create a fair playing field with out-of-state businesses, ensure necessary compensation is available for Florida workers seeking reemployment, and cut Florida’s business rent tax by $1 billion,” Mayfield said.
“Our 2021-2022 balanced budget also makes key investments in infrastructure, child welfare, and increasing the state employee minimum wage, while bolstering state reserves as our economy continues to recover from the pandemic.”
Mayfield said the caucus also came through on conservation and social welfare programs.
“We’ve made tremendous investments to protect and restore one of our state’s most valuable assets — Florida’s environment. We modernized our documentary stamp distributions to dedicate a steady stream of funding in three key areas of infrastructure — affordable housing, wastewater, and mitigating sea level rise. We’ve taken action to expedite the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, a crucial and transformative step forward on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, which will improve water quality and quantity for Florida’s Everglades, estuaries, and the north and south areas of Lake Okeechobee.
“We prioritized the safety and stability of children in our state welfare system through comprehensive reforms, which range from training to reporting; all with the goal of ensuring no child falls through the cracks.”
Republicans were especially proud to pass arguably the largest school choice expansion ever.
“In education, we are maximizing parental choice by expanding eligibility and streamlining key school choice scholarship programs for students with unique abilities and students from lower income families, as we further increase an already unprecedented level of per student funding for K-12 education, and again increase our allocation to raise teacher salaries. The Republican Caucus also championed measures to hold big tech accountable and uphold the rule of law.
“These accomplishments reflect the Senate Majority’s unwavering dedication to serving the needs of our constituents, and all Floridians. I’m grateful for the collaborative spirit embraced by my Senate colleagues, as well as the House of Representatives and Governor Ron DeSantis. Our work doesn’t end today. The Senate Republican Caucus remains steadfast in our commitment to continue on the path to lift Floridians up and further strengthen our great state.”