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Senate prioritizes budget, celebrates Vietnam vets and license-free fishing

April 5, 2017
By SEN. LIZBETH BENACQUISTO , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Senate convened for its fourth week of the annual 60-day session in Tallahassee for the purpose of holding committee meetings, as well as passing legislation through the full Senate.

Below are some highlights of week four's progress.

Budget prioritizes education, reserves

The Senate Committee on Appropriations filed Senate Proposed Bill 2500, a proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The budget prioritizes funding for Florida's Pre-K-20 public education system with a 3 percent increase in K-12 per student funding and key investments in higher education; all while setting aside more than $3 billion in total reserves.

The Senate's fiscally responsible, balanced budget ensures that we live within our means and set aside an ample rainy day fund. This budget meets the needs of our growing state in a manner that reflects the priorities of Floridians. The link between education and our economy is clear. The best thing we can do to invest in Florida's future is to make certain all Florida children have access to a great education from voluntary pre-kindergarten, all the way through our excellent institutions of higher education.

Additionally, the budget also makes critical investments in Florida's public servants with increases for our state's workforce. For far too long, the honorable and dedicated employees who guard prisons, protect our highways, care for abused and neglected children, and who provide many other critical government services, have gone without an increase in their pay. The Senate budget makes it clear that we value the contributions these public servants make to our state.

First license-free fishing weekend

Florida has authorized license free fishing days so that families can get outdoors and enjoy the great fishing that the state has to offer at no fee. The first of these wonderful weekends was April 1-2. I hope that you and your family will pass this news along to others, so that as many Floridians as possible can take advantage of these weekends.

Welcome Home Vietnam Vets Day celebrated

The U.S. Department of Defense is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by honoring veterans of the war for their brave and dedicated service. Similarly, pursuant to a resolution issued by the governor and Cabinet, in honor of the veterans of the war, March 30, 2017, was officially recognized as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.

Additionally, the state of Florida has honored Vietnam War veterans by constructing the Florida Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Tallahassee, producing a Vietnam War Veteran license plate, and assisting Vietnam War veterans with obtaining high school diplomas for draftees who were unable to complete their education.

Florida, the most military- and veteran-friendly state in the nation, is currently home to more than 506,000 Vietnam-era veterans. In Florida, we proudly welcomed home our Vietnam War veterans 50 years ago, and per this resolution, all are encouraged to participate in local Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day activities, honoring those who served so courageously.

Senate committee meetings and floor sittings are streamed live on the Senate's website. The daily video broadcast schedule is available at: www.flsenate.gov/Media/VideoSchedule.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto represents District 27 in the Florida Senate. Contact her at 239-338-2570. Her district office is at 2310 First St., Unit 305, Fort Myers.

 
 

 

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