The Florida Legislature can boost the local economy and improve the quality of life by reducing the burden of government and restoring funding cut during the recession.
These were the message representatives of Alachua County groups delivered to the county’s legislative delegation at a hearing on Wednesday December 3.
The delegation – made up of legislators who represent all or part of the county – consists of Rep. Clovis Watson (this year’s chair), Sen. Rob Bradley (vice chair), Rep. Keith Perry and Rep. Elizabeth Porter.
The four steadily took notes, intently read handouts and asked insightful questions at the four-hour hearing held at the Headquarters Alachua County Library in Gainesville.
In its session that begins in March, the Legislature should reduce excessive student testing requirements, said Alachua County Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts.
“I have a solution that will save millions of dollars that can be used in the classroom,” said Roberts, who has a background at a school evaluator and statistician.
Bradley responded: “I think we overtest, and we can be smarter about it.”
Maggie Labarta, president of Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, noted that growing reporting to the state has increased the agency’s administrative costs – resulting in less money for patient care.
Chuck Clemons, Santa Fe College’s senior vice president for development, urged the delegation to restore state matching funds cut during the Recession. The college has up to $8 million lined up that donors are willing to provide once the state makes good on “promises it made,” he said.
The delegation honored University of Florida President Bernie Machen, who leaves his post at the end of the year, for his accomplishments.
Those accomplishments include working with Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature to pass a bill in 2013 that recognizes UF’s preeminence in the State University System and funds enhancements aimed at improving its national ranking.
Machen, in turn, applauded the delegation. “We have a powerful team in Tallahassee that works for us,” he said.