Ron DeSantis policy chief cheers Session accomplishes, hints at veto vetting process
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/7/23-Chris Spencer, director of policy & budget for Gov. Ron DeSantis, talks about the Governor’s proposed budget for 2023-24 during the House Appropriations Committee, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Chris Spencer noted movement on lawsuit abuse, school choice and gender surgery restrictions.

Chris Spencer offered some hint to Florida TaxWatch members at what will survive Gov. Ron DeSantis’ veto pen.

The director of the Governor’s Policy and Budget office said he knows water projects are a “fan favorite” for TaxWatch when it creates its “budget turkey” list each year.

But DeSantis remains proud of water project spending during his tenure. But he’s always focused on three elements: water quality, quantity, and supply. If a project can help in all those areas, it’s chances to survive the Governor’s veto pen are good regardless of whether outside groups mark it as wasteful.

Spencer said there will also be plenty of money going to help after Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole The $4 billion budgeted by the Legislature shows the significance of the event, and of the significance in particular of Ian.

“It’s a significant storm and is going to be the most expensive storm for Florida when this is all said and done,” Spencer said.

The budget is top of mind in Tallahassee right now, and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said the document will be delivered to the Governor’s Office within days.

But that’s only a portion of the work of the 2023 Legislative Session, which Spencer described as three typical Sessions crammed into one. He touted policy wins for the Governor on numerous fronts, a seeming preface to a presidential campaign DeSantis is expected to announce next week.

“America’s best governor has delivered for Floridians but also for businesses to operate here so that everyone can be self-sufficient and ultimately reach the American dream,” he said.

Spencer said it was a chief objective of the Governor to stop “genital mutilation for minors,” a reference to a ban on gender-affirming care for children DeSantis signed on Wednesday.

He also pointed to passage of a voucher bill — “finally, universal school choice” — as a major achievement. He largely credited Speaker Paul Renner for making the legislation a priority.

He also said legislation tackling lawsuit abuse represented a decade worth of work finally wrapped in a whole legislative package to address attorney fee multipliers, cost clawbacks and fraud on consumers. That’s critical in a state that sees 70% of the litigation around insurance claims in the country.

The Governor’s Office believes the legislation will lead to cost reductions for Florida insurance policyholders, but urged patience, noting it takes two to three years for such reform to be reflected in price schedules.

“We think it’s going to reduce rates,” Spencer said. “If it doesn’t, come see me.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Bob Yougar

    May 19, 2023 at 7:46 am

    Vengeful Christians running amok with your tax dollars (no you don’t pay state income tax, yes you do get tax dollars per person from President Joe Biden).

    Goodbye 77,000 Disney jobs 🏰

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 19, 2023 at 10:23 am

    Why is Florida Gov Rhonda proud of their water project achievements when Georgia’s Gov Kemp obliterated Rhonda and Alabama, with Georgia retaining total control over the water flow via the Chattahoochee River to Apalachicola Bay. Ivy League Rhonda got whooped by a University of Georgia Grad. No wonder people are saying Yarvard and Hale pay Rhonda to keep quiet about his Ivy League status.

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