No critical race theory, relaxed gun-control and bonuses for teachers
January 11 sees the beginning of the state's 2022 legislative season, and topics on the agenda look to be dominated by a variety of topics - many of which seem to have been chosen to broaden Governor DeSantis' appeal to the conservative voter base.
This could be significant in a year that sees his gubernatorial re-election campaign and in which his potential running for president in 2024 could be determined.
Some of the more significant items up for discussion include:
- The banning of teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools
- Measures to prevent settling of illegal immigrants in Florida
- A number of proposals to reduce gun-control in the state and allow so-called constitutional carry of handguns.
DeSantis' Agenda, not Florida's Agenda
The Governor's political opponents have been quick to air concerns. Speaking on the topics slated for discussion, Florida Democratic Senator Shevrin Jones had this to say:
“I definitely believe there’s more of a DeSantis agenda that I have seen and heard more than an agenda coming from the leaders of the two chambers, which worries me, It’s strictly Ron DeSantis’ agenda, and not Florida’s agenda."
These appear to have been chosen as they are some of the subjects that seem most significant to hardline conservatives within the state. But there are also agenda items that seem focused towards those on both sides of the political aisle.
The Governor has proposed a budget for the state that also includes funding that Floridians of all political-persuasions are likely to approve of.
The proposed 2022 budget, so-called the 'Freedom First Budget' includes $1,000 bonuses for teachers and principals for the second year in a row, as well as a $600 million provision to increase teachers' entry level salaries to $47,500.
There's also $276 million of funding over the next 3 years to fund environmental initiatives tackling the effects of rising sea levels and the heightened risk of flooding. Whether citizens choose to believe in global warming or not, the undeniable signs of changing climate patterns affect everyone, and most will be relieved that the governor has seen fit to include funds to tackle this.
The outcomes of the 2022 legislative season should be of concern to all who live in the state, regardless of political persuasion. Some measures will likely be of greater significance than others, but it could signal a year in which much changes in the state.
What do you think that Governor DeSantis and the state's political leadership should be focusing their attention and money on in 2022? Let me know in the comments section below.