Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson signaled the start of the 2022 Legislative Session on Tuesday morning with his opening day address where he highlighted political ambitions that largely mirrored those of Governor Ron DeSantis.
Simpson’s ‘to-do list’ included pay increases and bonus payments to law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians, increased investment in teacher salaries, bus drivers, and maintenance workers, and improvements to the child foster care system.
“We invested record funding in education, with the biggest per-people funding ever,” said Simpson. “We expanded school choice. One of the cornerstones of breaking generational poverty is to ensure we have a strong school choice option so parents can direct their children’s education. We are the promised land for education-minded families.”
Simpson additionally committed to continuing statewide minimum wage increases for state workers. The measure to increase the minimum wage was passed as a constitutional amendment in 2020 and will rise to $15 by 2026.
Florida’s environmental efforts were emphasized following a three-month span in which DeSantis proposed an assemblage of actions that included natural spring restoration, Everglades maintenance and sustainability, and water quality management, amounting to over $1 billion dollars spent.
“For generations, Florida’s environment has been one of its main attractions to new residents of the state. Investing in our environment is an investment in our infrastructure,” said Simpson. “But more than that, it is an investment in the quality of life for future generations. We’ve preserved and expanded Florida’s wildlife corridor to maintain the state’s unique wildlife and habitats.”
Despite the accomplishments, Simpson sought to achieve further innovation and improve the way in which the government is run.
Segueing into a praising of Florida’s COVID-19 response, Simpson championed anti-government measures through the opposition of mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and shuttered businesses.
“Working together, I believe we should take the same approach we did last year. Because of past choices, Floridians continue to prosper and entrepreneurs are creating new businesses across the state. Our economy is flourishing as a result,” Simpson said. “Our state has the resources to add to last year’s investments and our children, our natural resources, and our infrastructure.”
Simpson closed his speech by reminding his fellow elected Senators of the impact of their decisions.
“Every Legislature every year has another chance to make choices about what kind of government Florida is going to have. This Session, we have another chance to sow the seeds that will grow our tomorrow.”
The 2022 Legislative Session will continue through March 11 as lawmakers are set to discuss key bill proposals relating to school policies and regulation, further pandemic response plans, and redistricting maps.