The 2014 Florida Legislative Session came to a close late Friday, with lawmakers’ passage of a balanced budget totaling $77.1 billion.
Gaetsz' thoughts on the budget:
I’m very pleased with the budget this year, we’ve met the critical needs of the state, provided historic broad based tax relief, increased our investment in education to the highest level in state history, and done a number of other things that may have involved some money in some cases, less money in some cases, but met the needs of Floridians for better healthcare, for better education for a broad based and I think richer cultural set of investments and substantially increased our investment in child welfare and children’s issues so I think all around a good budget, good for taxpayers.
What are some of the other highlights of the session in terms of legislation that was passed?
Probably the tone of the session I would consider a highlight because instead of doing what speakers and senate presidents have historically done, and that’s spend a lot of time plotting and scheming against each other and having turf battles, speaker Will Weatherford and I set out together two years ago to establish a joint work plan for each of the two sessions for which we were presiding officers. We did that and we completed our established work plans. I would have to say as well that in the policy area the dramatic legislation we passed last year, the most sweeping ethics reform in 38 years and this year extending those ethics reforms to local government and quasi government agencies, that is something I will always be proud of. And the other thing frankly, is the historic nationally significant initiative Florida has taken in career technical education. The whole issue of lashing our education to the realities of the economy, making sure that our students now have 258 different career fields from culinary arts, to information technology, to aerospace, to welding that students can prepare for by earning national industry certifications while still in school.
Gaetz on the legislature's approval of a bill legalizing low-THC grade cannabis for Floridians suffering with severe neurological conditions. This measure co-sponsored by Don Gaetz' son, Rep. Matt Gaetz.
This bill is providing low THC cannabis to make sure that suffering families and suffering children get some relief. This doesn’t legalize marijuana, it doesn’t provide anybody with a high but it provides some kind of relief and palliation for these symptoms that can literally cause death. We are very very proud that Northwest FLorida families were the inspiration for Matt Gaetz sponsoring this bill.
During the final week, the legislature passed legislation to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students in Florida, which Gaetz opposed.
I’m not so happy about the initiative by Gov Scott to provide subsidized tuition to students who are not lawfully in the US and this is one where I felt that draining $15,000 per year per student...is too big a subsidy to provide.
During his final week, Senator Gaetz was honored by his colleagues, with the unveiling of official portrait and his colleagues in the legislature purchased and gave him a copy of a historic letter written by Winston Churchill.