It’s no secret that Florida is a great place to live, work and raise a family, which is likely why our state had the second largest population increase in the nation last year. Florida also continues to break its own tourism records, with nearly 118 million visitors vacationing in the Sunshine State in 2021.
That’s a lot of drivers on Florida’s infrastructure, which is why it is so important that the Florida Legislature made significant, smart investments in transportation infrastructure in the recently passed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. These investments will help ensure Florida can continue to accommodate this growth and remain the best state in the nation.
These funds will allow the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to build and maintain infrastructure throughout our state, ensuring they are safe for Floridians, businesses and visitors alike who utilize the infrastructure each and every day. Making smart investments now also allows our state to plan for the future, and the continued growth we expect to experience, in a more thoughtful, responsible way.
Not only did Florida leaders prioritize and fund critical infrastructure needs throughout the state, but they also provided additional budget authority so Florida can remain competitive and attract and retain good talent at FDOT. This will help ensure Florida has the best, most qualified individuals making decisions at the agency, which is ultimately better for Florida taxpayers and helps ensure growth and maintenance of our state’s infrastructure is well managed.
Additionally, the Legislature also provided additional funding for the Florida Highway Patrol to enforce high-speed work zones. Building and maintaining our state’s highways, often done in the dark of night to inconvenience drivers as little as possible, can pose significant safety risks for dads and moms building. It only takes a few minutes to pass an active work zone, so please “lose a minute to save a life.”
Making important investments in infrastructure provides a positive return on investment for our state. With the funds in this budget dedicated to building, maintaining and protecting our state’s infrastructure, Florida leaders also invested in commerce, jobs, economic development, and improved overall quality of life for residents.
As President Wilton Simpson and Speaker Chris Sprowls put a bow on their term as legislative leaders, I thank them for their exceptional and principled leadership as they were inheriting an uncertain future, at the onset of the pandemic, and are leaving us with the state’s future as bright as one can imagine.
Ananth Prasad is the president of the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association and former secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.