After leading what he called one of the “most productive” legislative sessions in recent memory, Senate President Bill Galvano briefed county leaders on the progress Tallahassee lawmakers made earlier this year.
Galvano, a longtime Bradenton legislator, guided discussion and legislation for the first time in 2019. The key to finding success over the course of the 6-week session, he explained, was good old-fashioned civility.
“We in Tallahassee, between the House (of Representatives), the Senate and the new governor, Ron DeSantis, who is doing a great job, we’re the example for the rest of the nation,” said Galvano. “We didn’t engage in Washington-type gamesmanship and we did a lot of important things for the people of Florida.”
Some of those accomplishments include Galvano’s focus on three new toll roads across the state, a massive financial investment in restoring and protecting the environment and much-needed emergency relief in the Panhandle. Lawmakers pushed improvements through new bills and the $91.1 billion 2019 state budget.
“Our session this year was probably the most productive I’ve experienced since being in the process, and that goes back even to my House days,” he said.
Galvano also touched on how lawmakers are funding red tide research to mitigate, remediate and figure out how to lessen the impact of the toxic algae bloom while also studying any long-term health effects.
These are just some of the projects included in the state budget, which was sent to DeSantis’ desk on Friday, and is expected to be approved before the fiscal year begins on July 1.
“These are things that are very important to our community,” Galvano said. “METV, the 44th extension, the South Florida Museum and the things that make this a special community — things that are important to the fabric of what we do.”
County commissioners told Galvano they were overwhelmingly pleased with his performance during the session, citing his responsiveness and impressive leadership ability.
“We don’t know how you do it, Bill, but you’re so readily available every time we come to you with a question or a phone call,” said Commissioner Betsy Benac. “We appreciate all your hard work for our citizens.”
“If we had to grade you, you’d get an A+,” Commissioner Misty Servia added.
Galvano noted that he couldn’t take all the praise for himself. Manatee County’s other state lawmakers, Reps. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, and Rep. Wengay Newton, D-St. Petersburg, also advocated for the area, too.
As Galvano prepares to host committee meetings in the fall and lay the groundwork for the 2020 legislative session, commissioners hope to maintain their close relationship.
“Hopefully the next session will be as a civil as this last one, and we can keep moving forward as a state,” Commissioner Steven Jonsson said.