With an historical year marked by a virus pandemic, our state legislature has faced extraordinary challenges. Acting in the public interest is normally a daunting task, with the myriad of bills before it, but public health repeatedly took center stage.
Our top-notch panel of journalists has dutifully covered this tumultuous session with a range of bills. In a Republican-dominated body, a number of issues like election reform appealed to right-leaning voters. Democrats see some bright spots in the 2021 session, such as a bipartisan police reform package that establishes basic training standards across the state.
Beyond the hot-button social issues that dominated headlines, Gov. DeSantis avoided painful budget cuts thanks in part to $10.2 billion in federal aid that cushioned the pandemic’s financial blow in Florida. Legislators approved a $101.5 billion budget that includes $1,000 bonuses for educators, police officers and firefighters. It continues DeSantis’ push to raise the minimum starting pay for teachers to $47,500. The minimum wage for the lowest-paid state employees will be bumped up to $13.
On the environment, the budget includes more money for Everglades restoration and $500 million to combat sea level rise.
Join our veteran panel, moderated by an eminently-experienced Tallahassee participant.
Steve Bousquet has been reporting from Tallahassee for over three decades, and has been arguably the senior political reporter in Tallahassee for a number of years. His journalistic and community ties and institutional knowledge of Broward County are unmatched by anybody in the news business. He serves currently as Political Columnist for the Florida Sun Sentinel, based in Tallahassee, and is on the Editorial Board of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.
Senior writer for The News Service of Florida, Dara Kam has spent over two decades based in Tallahassee covering Florida government, politics and campaigns.
Skyler Swisher is the Sun Sentinel daily reporter covering politics. Before joining the Sun Sentinel, he wrote about health care for The Daytona Beach News-Journal. A native of Memphis, he is a graduate of the University of Tennessee.
With a legacy of public service spanning nearly three decades, Shane Strum is President and Chief Executive Officer of Broward Health, one of the nation’s 10 largest public healthcare systems with an operational budget of $1.2 billion and more than 8,200 employees.
Before joining Broward Health, Strum served as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ chief of staff and led the Governor’s staff in implementing a $90 billion budget, overseeing 20 state agencies with more than 100,000 employees, gubernatorial appointments, and cabinet affairs.
In addition to his healthcare experience, Strum has excelled in higher education, having served as vice chancellor of Keiser University and director of corporate and government relations at Nova Southeastern University.
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