State Senator Debbie Mayfield – Mayfield Minute 12/13/2021

Good Morning!

This edition of the Mayfield Minute includes highlights of Governor DeSantis’ recommended budget, titled the Freedom First Budget. Each year, prior to the start of the annual Legislative Session, the Governor is required to propose a balanced state budget. This provides the Legislature with an outline of the Governor’s priorities as we began to prepare the 2022-2023 state budget. In addition, I have provided information related to combatting the Biden Border Crisis, Florida’s First Resiliency Plan, local stories, and upcoming events.
 
I consider it a great honor to represent District 17. Please share this link with your friends and family so that they too can sign up for the Mayfield Minute.
 
If you or someone you know needs my assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My staff and I are here to serve you!

Statewide Updates

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces The Freedom First Budget  
 
Governor DeSantis released his Freedom First Budget proposal with recommendations for fiscal year 2022-2023. The Governor’s recommended budget totals $99.7 billion, with total reserves exceeding $15 billion. This budget continues to promote Economic Opportunities, record funding in K-12 Education, Infrastructure and Transportation, Everglades Restoration and Protection of Water Resources, and First Responder and Law Enforcement Bonuses.
 
The Governor’s budget recommends four tax holidays to allow hard working Floridians to keep more money in their pockets.
  • A Fuel Tax Holiday to provide a reprieve from increasing gas prices;
  • A 7-day Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday;
  • A 10-day Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday; and
  • A 10-day Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax.
 
Investments in Rural Communities and the Tourism Industry. This includes:
  • $105 million for the Rural Infrastructure Fund to support local rural infrastructure projects such as roads, wastewater systems, and internet access for rural communities. 
  • $100 million for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support projects that create workforce training opportunities and invest in critical infrastructure.
  • $50 million in recurring funding for VISIT FLORIDA, Florida’s tourism marketing agency. 
 
Governor DeSantis is proposing record funding for K-12 Education and prioritizes teachers and students.
  • An increase in per-student funding to raise this year’s budget to $8,000 per student. This will represent the highest amount of per-student funding in Florida’s history.
  • $421 million for school safety and mental health initiatives. That funding includes $210 million for the safe schools program, $140 million for mental health, $42 million for school hardening grants, and $4 million for safety initiatives at Jewish Day Schools.
  • To fully eliminate the Florida Standards Assessment and implement Progress Monitoring in its place, Governor DeSantis is proposing $15.5 million in recurring funding to provide progress monitoring tools to schools.
  • To make Florida the number one state for Workforce Education by 2030, $534 million in funding to support workforce education programs is included in the proposed budget.
 
While other states want to defund the police, the Governor’s recommended budget reflects Florida’s support for members of law enforcement. This includes:
  • $226.7 million to provide salary increases for those working in law enforcement.
  • A $5,000 signing bonus for every recruit who is new to the law enforcement profession in Florida once they complete their training and they officially become a law enforcement officer.
  • Providing the State Officer Certification Exam free of charge to law enforcement officers relocating to Florida and to cover the cost of any necessary equivalent training programs for relocating officers, up to $1,000 per officer.
  • Creating a Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program to cover the cost of enrollment for men and women seeking to serve their state and communities.
 
Florida continues to be committed in supporting those who serve. Our National Guard has been called upon time and time again during times of emergency, and we must ensure they are ready to serve Floridians. Governor DeSantis is proposing more than $100 million in our National Guard, which includes:
  • $87.5 million from the federal State Fiscal Recovery Fund to build three new readiness centers in Homestead, Gainesville and Malabar and expand the existing readiness center in Miramar.
  • $2.2 million to build a new headquarter for the National Guard Counter Drug Program.
  • $5.1 million to fully support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher education degrees.
  • The budget also includes $5.4 million to establish the Florida State Guard, a civilian volunteer force, to assist the National Guard in state-specific emergencies. 
 
Florida’s natural resources are the foundation of our state’s communities. The environment drives tourism, affects property values, is the foundation of many local economies and is central to our quality of life. The budget reaffirms Governor DeSantis’ commitment by recommending more than $4.4 billion to protect our environment and natural resources, which includes:
  • More than $660 million for Everglades restoration.
  • $195 million for targeted water quality improvements.
  • $35 million to improve water quality and combat the negative impacts of harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae. This includes $5 million in additional funding dedicated to address red tide cleanup.
  • $3 million to remove invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades.
  • $550 million to increase the resiliency of Florida’s coastal and inland communities.
  • $100 million for the Florida Forever program.
  • $51.7 million for infrastructure improvements and natural resource management at our award-winning state parks.
 
The Governor’s recommended budget continues support for our healthcare workers and access to medical services for Floridians.
  • More than $200 million in funding to support direct care workers with pay raises. 
  • $100 million for cancer research. 
  • $15 million in funding for Alzheimer’s Disease research.
  • $188.6 million in behavioral health initiatives including mental health and substance abuse services.
  • $133 million to provide services to those served by the child welfare system, including foster parent support and adoption subsidies.
 
To read highlights of the Freedom First Budget, click here.
 
 
Governor DeSantis Announces Proposals to Address the Ongoing Biden Border Crisis
 
Governor DeSantis was joined by Congressman John Rutherford, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and Public Safety Czar Larry Keefe to announce new proposals to fight illegal immigration and protect Floridians from the Biden Border Crisis. Governor DeSantis announced proposals for the upcoming legislative session to hold accountable private entities that knowingly or recklessly assist the Biden Administration in resettling illegal immigrants into Florida. The legislation would also strengthen E-verify enforcement and codify and build upon the steps he has taken to protect the state of Florida through Executive Order 21-223. Additionally, Governor DeSantis announced that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) published an emergency rule to prohibit the issuance or renewal of any license to house unaccompanied alien minors who seek to be resettled in Florida unless there is a cooperative agreement between the state and federal government.
 
For more information, click here.
 
 
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces First Ever Statewide Flooding Resilience Plan  
 
Governor DeSantis was joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton, Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks, and other stakeholders to announce another milestone in Florida’s efforts to protect Florida’s coastal and inland communities with the state’s first ever Statewide Flooding Resilience Plan.
 
The plan consists of a list of projects that will enhance Florida’s efforts to protect inland waterways, coastlines, shores, and coral reefs, which are invaluable natural defenses against sea-level rise and flooding. The plan is part of Senate Bill 1954, signed by Governor DeSantis earlier this year, which ensures a coordinated approach to Florida’s coastal and inland resilience and provides a structure for resilience that follows the best available science and data while enhancing efforts to protect inland and coastal resources that act as natural defenses against sea-level rise.
 
The three-year Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan proposes 76 projects across the state totaling over $270 million, subject to appropriation. DEP accepted applications through their online portal through September 1, 2021. These applications were carefully evaluated for eligibility by the department under the criteria established in SB 1954.
 
Brevard County is included for a project titled Crystal Lakes Impoundment Breakwater and Living Shore sponsored by Brevard County Mosquito Control. Indian River County is included for a project titled Sebastian River Improvement District Treatment and Storage sponsored by St. Johns River Water Management District.
 
The list of projects can be found here.

Constituent of the Week

 
This week, our constituent of the week is Dr. James H. Richey, President of Eastern Florida State College. Richey and his wife, Suzanne reside in Melbourne Beach, where they raised their three children, Bradley, Allison, and Bethany. Richey was named College President on January 23, 2012, by the Eastern Florida State College (EFSC) Board of Trustees. Dr. Richey is the sixth permanent chief executive to lead the college since it opened in 1960 as Brevard Junior College. Before coming to the College, Dr. Richey earned a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting from Michigan State University in 1985 and a Juris Doctorate Degree from The Ohio State University in 1988. Dr. Richey practiced law in Melbourne from 1994 to 2008. His work included advising businesses on contract negotiations, employment policies, employee benefits, corporate governance, and charitable giving programs. In his time as an attorney, he successfully argued a case before the Florida Supreme Court. Dr. Richey’s association with the College began when he was appointed to the Board of Trustees by Governor Charlie Crist in July of 2007. He resigned from the board in 2008 to accept a position as Internal Counsel for EFSC. The EFSC Board of Trustees named him Interim President in October of 2011 following the retirement of Dr. Jim Drake who had led the College since 2006.
 
Since becoming president in 2012, Dr. Richey has expanded the College’s academic mission to include Bachelor’s Degrees in the fields of business, health care, and computer technology. With his leadership, the college transformed from a small Brevard Community College into the growing Eastern Florida State College it is now. EFSC offers more than 20 highly popular Bachelor Degree programs, which brings a total of 60 new academic programs created in the past seven years. To the credit of Dr. Richey, these programs were developed with input from business and in-demand industry leaders in Brevard County and East-Central Florida, allowing graduates of EFSC to go on to work in our community post-graduation.
 
Accessibility to education is another aspect of the college that Dr. Richey has improved during his tenure. EFSC is home to over 250 online learning courses that earned the College a prestigious Gold Rating from the Florida Board of Education in 2017. The College has not increased tuition for students in the past ten years, in hopes that education can remain in reach for all members of the community. In addition, the EFSC Career Planning and Development Center has served more than 70,000 students, providing them with critical skills to enter the workforce.
 
Dr. Richey and his staff have instituted various state of the art facilities and programs such as the Health Sciences Institute and the Law Enforcement Public Safety Institute. In addition, the College has an Advanced Manufacturing Center, an Aviation Center, a Mechatronics Lab, a Fire Training Center, a Veteran & Military Center, and a Tutoring Center. The College also has a new and improved student union.
 
Under the leadership of Dr. Richie and the Board of Trustees, EFSC has become an extraordinary State College. Thank you for your continued dedication to providing access to education in our community. Senate District 17 and our great state are privileged to have you as a member of the community.

District 17 Highlights

Brevard County
 
Expanded Efforts to Address Florida Manatee Mortality Event
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in cooperation with Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), are enhancing ongoing efforts to address the Unusual Manatee Mortality Event (UME) along Florida’s Atlantic coast.
 
After thorough review the USFWS and FWC leadership recently approved the Unified Command establishing a Temporary Field Response Station at FPL’s Cape Canaveral Clean Energy Center in Brevard County. The Response Station will support several UME response operations currently underway in the central Indian River Lagoon, such as manatee rescues, carcass recovery, and limited field health assessments.
 
 
Fall Community Cleanup Program Collected More Than 840 Cubic Yards of Bulk Items
 
The City of Melbourne’s Community Cleanup program aims to prevent dumping along roadways in Melbourne’s neighborhoods and gives local residents a convenient way to dispose of large items that are not picked up as part of their regular waste collection service.
 
From November 1 until November 30, residents used the temporary Community Cleanup dumpsters at Carver Park to dispose of more than 840 cubic yards of large trash items, including damaged fencing, pressure treated wood, damaged furniture, and old tires. In the spring, dumpsters placed at Lipscomb Park collected more than 810 cubic yards of similar items between May 3 and June 4.
 
 
Indian River County
 
Vero Beach Approved Water-Sewer Rate Study
 
The City Council of Vero Beach unanimously approved to spend nearly $70,000 for a study to determine if their water and sewer rates should be adjusted. Depending on results of the study, discussion of rate hikes could begin next summer and, if approved, could be implemented by October. This is in anticipation of the City of Vero Beach relocating their wastewater treatment plant off of the Indian River Lagoon. The city’s last rate study was in 2009, resulting in a slight increase in sewer rates the following year. Vero Beach provides water and sewer services to Indian River Shores and to the southern section of the barrier island, as well as to its own residents.

Upcoming Events

FWC Hosting December 2021 Commission Meeting
 
The FWC Commission Meeting will take place on December 15th and 16th and begin at 8:30 a.m. each day. The meeting will be held at the Henderson Beach Resort located at 200 Henderson Resort Way, Destin, Florida 32541.
 
To view the complete agenda, click here.
 
 
Free Drive-Through Light Fest at Fred Poppe Regional Park
 
The City of Palm Bay is hosting a Drive-Through Holiday Light Fest at Fred Poppe Regional Park located at 1951 Malabar Rd NW starting Friday, December 17th through Sunday December 19th. The holiday light fest is free to the public and is open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
 
For more information, call the Ted Whitlock Community Center at (321) 952-3231. Call the Rainout Hotline at (321) 726-5682 to make sure the Light Fest has not been affected by weather.
 
 
“Baffling Baffle Boxes” Virtual Field Trip on December 16th
 
The City of Melbourne’s Engineering Department and ECO Division and the Marine Resources Council (MRC) will hold a virtual field trip on December 16th at 9 a.m. to explain the functionality and purpose of baffle boxes.
 
This 60-minute long virtual field trip is geared toward youth but is open to all ages. Participants will have the chance to ask questions through the Q&A box . Participants are also encouraged to email their questions about stormwater and baffle boxes to the MRC’s Programs Coordinator, Bri Forte at bri@mrcirl.org by December 15th.
 
You can participate by registering online or viewing the live stream on the MRC Facebook page.
 
 
Christmas Family Movie Night Hosted by Sebastian PD COPE Unit
 
The Sebastian PD COPE Unit will be hosting a Christmas Family Movie Night on Friday, December 17th at 6:00 p.m. at Riverview Park located in Sebastian. The movie shown will be “Arthur Christmas” (Animated – 2011 – Rated PG) and the COPE Unit will serve free popcorn, hot chocolate, and Christmas cookies.
 
For more information, click here.
Contact Information
Melbourne Office
900 East Strawbridge Avenue
Melbourne, FL 32901
(321) 409-2025
 
Tallahassee Office
330 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5017
 
Vero Beach Office
Administration Building B
1801 27th Street
Vero Beach, FL 32960
(772) 226-1970
 
Staff: