U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s campaign for Florida Governor unveiled the first part of a new policy plan to make living in the Sunshine State more affordable for Floridians. It’s appropriately called the “Affordable Florida for All” plan, and two additional parts of the proposal are set to be unveiled later this week.
Crist announced the plan at a Monday news conference in Miami, where he was joined by North Miami Beach Vice Mayor Michael Joseph, Miami Gardens Councilwoman Katrina Wilson and others.
The first part of the plan centers on the Public Service Commission (PSC), which Crist’s campaign said is now “in the pocket of big utilities and acting more like a lapdog than a watchdog” while “wages and the rate of wage growth in Florida are well below the national average.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis has only made the issue worse, Crist’s campaign argues, citing signed legislation that halved the Sadowski Fund for affordable housing and hurt homeowners with changes to property insurance regulations.
“All while this Governor takes giant campaign contributions from electric utilities, then watches quietly as the PSC rubber-stamps their outrageous hikes,” Crist’s campaign said.
Crist’s solution: broad changes to the policies and composition of the PSC, including making its members answerable to state residents at the ballot box by enabling Floridians to vote them out of office.
Further, Crist is calling for changes to the law so the Governor can directly appoint members of the Commission and the Office of Public Council without having to choose from a list of candidates “hand-picked by the utilities.”
The Governor now fills PSC vacancies by choosing a list of nominees provided by the Public Service Commission Nominating Council. The Governor’s choice must be confirmed by the Florida Senate.
That, among other changes, will stop “outrageous electric rate increases and reform utility regulation,” Crist’s campaign argued.
Crist’s plan also includes commitments to invest in low-cost and clean energy solutions, including electric vehicle charging stations, expanding solar energy efforts and repealing legislation preventing local governments from restricting the use of natural gas obtained through fracking.
“When I was Governor (before), I took on the power companies and demanded lower rates for (Florida’s) working families,” Crist said in a statement. “I appointed consumer-oriented regulators who were on the side of the people, not on the side of profits. And my ‘Affordable Florida for All’ plan is our campaign’s promise that once I’m in office, I’ll do it again.”
A former Republican Governor now running to reclaim Florida’s highest office as a Democrat, Crist faces Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Sen. Annette Taddeo, among others, in the Democratic Primary.