Last Call for 12.9.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

After scanning Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget recommendation, the state’s largest teacher union said it was unimpressed.

“The budget that Gov. DeSantis has proposed flies in the face of what truly needs to be done to ensure that the strongest public schools in the nation exist here in Florida,” said Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar.

“At a time that calls for true leadership, when our public schools are in crisis, the Governor offers more of the same. His proposal will not address Florida’s massive shortage of teachers and support staff. It fails the students in our public schools.”

FEA took umbrage with the Governor’s teacher pay proposal, which prioritizes raises for new teachers and pays no heed to those who’ve been on the job for years or the noninstructional staff who work in Florida K-12 schools.

The union said the strategy is a proven loser, with many districts struggling to hire bus drivers, let alone quality teachers.

“We’ve seen vacancies in our schools increase dramatically, and seen fewer people coming into the profession, and we’ve even seen an inconsistency in the sense that the Governor recognizes with law enforcement that experience counts but fails to recognize that fact when it comes to educators. He recognizes the importance of keeping experienced officers in the profession, but completely devalues experience in education,” Spar said, presumably referring to the Governor’s incentive plan to lure experienced law enforcement officers from other states.

The union spoke of DeSantis as a teacher would of a bright but unmotivated student — they know he has it in him based on his push to ditch the Florida Standards Assessment, but they say this budget falls short. DeSantis could rectify that, FEA said, if he simply listened to what teachers are saying: spread pay raises across all school staff, boost per-pupil funding, and ante up for mental health programs in schools.

“Gov. DeSantis calls his budget a freedom-first budget. When our country was founded on the ideal of freedom, it was founded with the belief that we must have an educated citizenry, and that needed to occur through a system of public schools. Today we say that system of public schools needs to achieve the goal of educating every child, regardless of race, background, ZIP code or exceptionality. His budget fails to ensure that fundamental basis of freedom for all citizens in our state,” Spar concluded.


Florida ports are a major economic engine, and the group representing them says the Governor’s budget treats them as such.

Cargo ships are flocking to Florida from the upper East Coast and the West Coast amid the national supply chain crunch, and the state’s seaports say they’re equipped for the job.

JAXPORT and Port Everglades in particular have stepped up to the challenge, the Florida Ports Council said, though the rest of Florida’s 15 seaports are also doing their part to churn more cargo.

“Florida is where your success comes in, and our seaports are helping to ensure the cargo shipping logjam doesn’t become the Grinch that stole Christmas,” said Michael Rubin, president and CEO of FPC.

Florida’s seaports support 900,000 direct and indirect jobs and pump almost $118 billion a year into the state’s economy through cargo and cruise activities.

“Thanks to Gov. Ron DeSantis and DOT Secretary Kevin Thibault, Florida’s seaports are well poised to double its capacity of cargo containers received — from 4 million to 8 million containers a year,” Rubin said. “The Governor’s 2022-2023 state budget recommendations will further solidify Florida as the first port of call for getting goods to America’s market.”

Evening Reads

Gov. Ron DeSantis unveils ‘Freedom First’ budget for ‘free state’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis unveils Florida state budget with bonuses for teachers and police” via Lawrence Mower, Mary Ellen Klas, Ana Ceballos and Kirby Wilson of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times

‘Not enough’: House Democrats blast Gov. DeSantis budget as status quo” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis says Florida Democrats don’t know what ‘everyday people’ want” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis includes pay raises, health insurance premium protections in $100B budget” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics

‘Freedom First’ budget would continue SLERS payments” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis includes Seminole Compact revenue in budget despite court blow” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

The pandemic of the vaccinated is here” via Rachel Gutman of The Atlantic

Long COVID-19 is destroying careers, leaving economic distress in its wake” via Christopher Rowland of The Washington Post

Thousands of Citizens Insurance customers to get takeout offer from newly created home insurer” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Abandoned cemeteries task force finalizes recommendations for Legislature” via Daniel Figueroa IV of Florida Politics

The rental market is tough; new data reveals just how bad it is” via Amber Randall of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

How nursing homes’ worst offenses are hidden from the public” via Robert Gebeloff, Katie Thomas and Jessica Silver-Greenberg of The New York Times

Quote of the Day

“If I’m reading this budget correctly, we are leveraging upward of 36% of federal money to cushion Florida’s state budget, so as the Governor continuously attacks President Biden, attacks the federal government, the administration, the reality is we could not balance this budget, give out tax breaks, if it weren’t for President Biden.” — Rep. Anna Eskamani, on the Governor’s budget recommendation.

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