Governor Ron DeSantis Highlights Major Accomplishments of 2019
Tallahassee, Fla.(treasurecoast.com)-, Governor Ron DeSantis reflected on his administration’s major accomplishments during his first year in office. The Governor has delivered on the promise that he made to Floridians upon taking office in January, tackling issues that are important to Floridians and the well-being of our state, now and well into the future.
Governor Ron DeSantis said, “2019 was an incredible year for Florida. We have achieved historic accomplishments that are of the utmost importance to Floridians and will bring our state to the next level. In conjunction with the Florida Legislature and our federal, state and local partners, we were able to secure major successes for the environment, education, hurricane recovery, economic development, public safety, military, health care and much more
“The First Lady and I appreciate the support we have received over the past year. Every day, I wake up grateful for the opportunity to go to work on behalf of Floridians. While we can reflect and be proud of these accomplishments, there is always more that can be done. Looking ahead as we enter the new year, I am excited for our next chapter, as Florida’s future has never been brighter.”
Major accomplishments of Governor DeSantis’ Administration include the following:
- Record investments in our state’s education system, including:
o The highest ever per-pupil spending at $7,672 per student. This includes an increase of over $242 per student – the largest increase since FY 2013-14.
o The highest ever K-12 public school funding with $21.8 billion in state and local funding.
- Historic expansion in school choice options for Florida families:
o Created the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, which expands educational opportunities for children of families with limited financial resources.
o Invested over $147 million in funding for the Gardiner Scholarship, which enabled students on the waitlist to be served and created a pathway to clear the waiting list for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.
- Issued Executive Order 19-31, which charts a course to make Florida number one in workforce education by 2030 by requiring an annual review of Career and Technical Education courses and the development of best practices to ensure that course offerings are aligned with market demands.
- Issued Executive Order 19-32, which outlines a path for Florida to improve its education system by eliminating Common Core and by strengthening civics education. Standards revisions are currently underway as the Department of Education has recently embarked on a statewide listening tour to hear stakeholder input.
- Invested $10 million in funding for the newly created Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program to establish or expand pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs for high school and college students.
- Invested $10 million in funding to support teacher professional development in computer science and reward those teachers for earning credentials to teach high-quality computer science courses.
- Created the Last Mile College Completion Program, which helps students who left college with 12 or fewer credit hours remaining, to complete their first associate or baccalaureate degree.
- Called on state colleges and universities to adopt a free speech resolution to ensure that a free and open exchange of ideas and robust civil discourse is encouraged and protected.
- First Lady Casey DeSantis successfully advocated for the State Board of Education to require every Florida public school to provide students in grades 6-12 at least five hours of mental health instruction.
- Maintained Florida’s higher education system standing in national rankings:
o This year, Florida was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the top state in the nation for higher education for the third consecutive year. The University of Florida and Florida State University were ranked the #7 and #18 public university in the country, respectively.
- Secured over $625 million for Everglades Restoration and protection of our vital water resources, putting us well on the way to reaching our goal of $2.5 billion over four years. This year’s funding includes:
o Over $400 million for Everglades restoration – the highest amount of Everglades funding ever;
o $40 million for the Florida Department of Transportation to expedite the completion of the Tamiami Trail and restore the flow of clean water south;
o $100 million for springs restoration;
o $50 million for targeted water quality improvements;
o $40 million for alternative water supply; and
o $25 million to combat blue-green algae and red tide
- Received $60 million in federal support for the Tamiami Trail raising and began the process of removing the old roadbed.
- Created the Blue-Green Algae Task Force consisting of five expert researchers and leading scientists, which released its first report this fall
- Appointed the state’s first Chief Science Officer and first Chief Resilience OfficeRestored the Red Tide Task Force, which had been dormant for over 15 years.
- Moved the Environmental crimes unit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to the Department of Environmental Protection to strengthen enforcement actions.
- Expedited the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir, broke ground on the C-43 Reservoir and activated the C-44 Stormwater Treatment Area.
- Successfully lobbied President Trump to increase his request from $67 million to $200 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, which Congress agreed to fund.
- Approved acquisition of ten Florida Forever parcels totaling more than 15,000 acres in conservation lands.
- Received an unprecedented fourth National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.
- Increased efforts to remove invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades.
- Added Canal Restoration as priority for the Florida Keys Area of Critical State Concern program and directed the Department of Economic Opportunity to begin developing a Canal Restoration Work Program that will set forth a definitive timeline for canal restoration with essential milestones for the completion of the project.
- Protected the will of voters by calling for and signing into law legislation to allow for the smoking of medical marijuana.
- Worked with President Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Florida Legislature to develop a plan for the safe and affordable importation of prescription drugs from Canada.
- Signed into law the Patient Savings Act, which allows consumers to receive rewards for choosing low-cost, high-quality medical services.
- Directed the implementation of Shared Savings Program for the State Group Health Insurance Program, rewarding employees and their dependents enrolled in a State Group Insurance plan for selecting more affordable health services.
- Directed the Agency for Health Care Administration to expedite the health care transparency portal to make healthcare pricing available to Floridians sooner.
- Created the Opioid Task Force and secured over $120 million to fight the opioid epidemic.
- First Lady Casey DeSantis established the Hope for Healing Florida Initiative
o The Hope for Healing Florida initiative is a multi-agency mental health and substance abuse campaign designed to bring stakeholders together to find real solutions to mental health problems in our state.
- Signed legislation to repeal the state’s Certificate of Need law, encouraging competition to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality.
- Signed legislation that establishes a framework for Floridians to receive telehealth services in Florida, expanding access to healthcare through the use of innovative technologies.
- Prioritized the support of Floridians living with Alzheimer’s Disease, including directing the Department of Health to add Alzheimer’s and related dementias as a priority within the state health improvement plan.
ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
- Led an unprecedented business development trade mission to Israel and hosted a historic meeting of Cabinet members in Jerusalem. The trade mission included the signing of over 20 strategic partnerships and Memorandums of Understanding.
- Advocated for full funding of the Sadowski housing trust fund–– and secured $115 million specifically for Hurricane Michael housing recovery needs.
- Announced an initiative to develop “Fintech” academies at our state colleges and technical centers and awarded the first grant for such an academy through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.
- Announced a job growth grant fund award of $2.86 million for two roads in Panama City to help promote development, support job creation and workforce retention
- Announced nearly $4 million to the Melbourne Airport Authority for infrastructure improvements at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.
- Made numerous announcements for Florida’s aviation and aerospace industries:
o Firefly Aerospace Inc.
- This is part of a multi-year $52 million project that is expected to generate over 200 jobs.
o Boeing Space and Launch Headquarters
- Boeing announced that it is moving its Space and Launch Headquarters from Arlington, Va. to Titusville on Florida’s Space Coast.
o Lockheed Martin Fleet Ballistic Missile Program Headquarters
- Establishing this new site is one milestone in the larger move of more than 300 jobs to the Space Coast area, expanding Lockheed Martin’s already significant presence.
o One Web Satellites new production facility
- The 105,500 square foot production facility, which has two production lines capable of producing two satellites a day, is helping to revitalize Florida’s Space Coast with 250 new high-tech jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs through the supply chain.
o United Airlines selected Tampa for a new aircraft maintenance facility
- This Tampa project is expected to have an economic impact of more than $30 million and create 40 new high-wage jobs as Florida continues to lead in the aviation industry.
o Spirit Airlines Headquarters
- Announced its intention to build a new state-of-the-art global headquarters complex in Dania Beach, creating 225 jobs for Floridians.
o CAE USA Headquarters
- The new 290,000 square-foot facility will be located on Tampa International Airport property. It is expected to open in 2022.
o JetBlue Travel Products Subsidiary, “Inspiration Center”
- The new Inspiration Center is an open and collaborative environment with a live experimental space where JetBlue Travel Products will test new travel concepts.
- Announced groundbreaking for the state’s first Buc-ee’s.
o The Buc-ee’s will be a 53,000-square foot travel plaza coming to the interchange of Interstate 95 and LPGA Boulevard in Daytona Beach.
- Announced Opening of CareComm at Tampa General.
o The center features 20 artificial intelligence apps, 38 large screens with some being touch screens, 32 workstations and a conference room.
- Directed Enterprise Florida, Inc. to include opportunity zone information in their materials and strategy for business recruitment.
- Created the Talent Development Council to develop a coordinated, data-driven, statewide approach to meeting Florida’s needs for a 21st-century workforce that employers and educators use as part of Florida’s talent supply system.
- Directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to expedite hurricane recovery reimbursements, of which the Division has now paid out over $1 billion since January 2019.
- $672 million for Hurricane Irma;
- $422 million for Hurricane Michael;
- More than $44 million for Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew.
- Requested and received 45 days of 100 percent federal cost share for Hurricane Michael debris removal and emergency protective measures.
- Requested and received 90 percent federal cost share for Hurricane Michael.
- Secured and delivered 100 FEMA Trailers to Bay County for residents impacted by Hurricane Michael.
- Directed the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to utilize their resources to assist families affected by Hurricane Michael and they responded with $5 million in housing assistance for Northwest Florida.
- Awarded nearly $13 million through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan for agricultural producers in counties affected by Hurricane Michael.
- Secured $380 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Florida’s timber industry following the impacts of Hurricane Michael.
- Secured $63 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to restore educational programs in counties affected by Hurricane Michael.
- Activated the Rebuild Florida Business Loan Program to help small businesses recovering from Hurricane Irma.
- Opened the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Agricultural Producers.
- Directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to expedite reimbursements under the Citrus Block Grant Recovery Program.
- Announced Florida Housing Finance Corporation is providing $140 million for the construction of new affordable workforce housing to help address housing shortages worsened by Hurricane Irma.
- Secured Major Disaster Declaration for 14 counties affected by Hurricane Dorian.
- Delivered 590,000 bottles of water to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.
- Announced $8 million available through Volunteer Florida’s disaster fund long term recovery grants ($5 million for Irma and $3 million for Michael).
- Appointed Florida’s first Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator within the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
LEGAL REFORM AND ELECTIONS SECURITY
- Secured meaningful assignment of benefits reform to fight insurance fraud and its impact on rising insurance costs for Floridians.
- Directed the Department of State to review the security and cybersecurity of our statewide elections systems through a Joint Elections Security Initiative.
- Joined the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) as part of ongoing efforts to enhance the security and integrity of Florida elections.
- Appointed three new Supreme Court Justices who understand that the proper role of the courts is to apply the law and Constitution as written.
o Pending confirmation of President Trump’s 11th Circuit recommendations, two additional appointments will be made.
- Appointed 56 judges across the state, of which 50% are female and 39% are minorities.
- Directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to develop a comprehensive, statewide threat assessment strategy to ensure that every government entity coordinates and cooperates in identifying and stopping persons on the pathway toward violence from committing such acts.
- Signed an Executive Order on school safety to expedite the implementation of many of the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
- Secured $2.5 million for security funding for Jewish Day Schools to ensure students and staff are safe throughout the state. This funding represents the highest ever total appropriated for Jewish Day School security funding.
- Impaneled a Statewide Grand Jury on School Safety to examine and review school safety measures, as well as the responses of public entities to laws designed to protect schools.
- Secured passage of legislation prohibiting sanctuary cities and upholding the rule of law.
- The crime rate in Florida fell by 9 percent, marking the 48th consecutive year that Florida has seen a drop in its crime rate.
- Juvenile arrests declined 8 percent in Fiscal Year 2018-19, and are down 27 percent in the last five years, marking the lowest juvenile arrest level in Florida in 44 years.
VETERANS AND MILITARY
- Created the Forward March Initiative which aims to unite the combined energy and resources of Florida’s state agencies, veterans’ service organizations, private partners and local communities.
- Created the Governor’s Initiative on Lawyers Assisting Warriors (G.I. LAW) to offer pro bono legal services to military members on a variety of civil matters.
o The initiative now includes participation by 7 statewide law firms, providing free legal representation to over 60 service members.
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
- Secured over $300 million in tax relief for Florida families, including a 5-day back-to-school sales tax holiday and a 7-day disaster preparedness holiday, as well as a reduction in the business rent tax.
- Issued a full pardon of the Groveland Four, four African-American men wrongfully accused and tried for crimes they did not commit.
o The four men were Ernest Thomas, Samuel Shepherd, Walter Irvin and Charles Greenlee.
- Requested placement of a statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune in National Statuary Hall.
o Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune will represent the first African American to have a state-commissioned statue in National Statuary Hall. The statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune is slated to be completed and moved to National Statuary Hall in 2020.
- Signed anti-Semitism legislation affirming Florida’s condemnation of discrimination and affirming that anti-Semitism has no place in Florida.
- Held the state’s first-ever “Deregathon” where we invited every licensing board under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s jurisdiction to sit in a room to target for removal unnecessary occupational licensing requirements.
o Since Deregathon, the boards have eliminated or are in the process of eliminating over 50 unnecessary rules and requirements.
o Examples include the following:
- The real estate board cut their license renewal fees in half (from $250 to $125).
- The barbers’ board is in the process of cutting the training hour requirement to become a restricted barber from 1200 hours to 600 hours.
- The electrical contracting board eliminated the personal financial statement in the application for electrical contractor licensure, changed requirements to allow for certain certifications in lieu of job lists as proof of experience, and eliminated the 21-day waiting period and 7-hour continuing education requirements for examination retakes.