By: Garin Flowers
March 3, 2014, 5:30pm
Tomorrow, legislative session begins, and with state lawmakers back in town, they're kicking it off with a celebration.
The Associated Industries of Florida is hosting a reception to welcome them back.
There will be important issues tackled this year and Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) and Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) discussed them with WCTV.
Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) on the surplus:
“The surplus will do two things. First, it will give us a chance to give a few tax breaks, which I think we all would support. But then we all have good statewide projects and imperatives that we must do. For example, the whole environmental issue. Water is an issue with us, and we’re hoping we’ll be able to do a good job in funding some of the projects we’ve got there. We know that water will be an issue. There are 5 of us Senators; it’s a bi-partisan issue, and we’re working hard on the water. President Gates, by the way, is doing a wonderful job as President of the Senate. He’s encouraged us to do what’s right for Florida and be able to fund some of those projects as well. We’re looking at other projects that have statewide implications, and then there are local projects scattered out through all of Florida. So the extra money will give us the opportunity to meet some of the needs that we haven’t been able to meet in five or six years.”
Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) on education:
“Probably, with Common Core, that decision is moving along rapidly. We need to remember that Common Core was really approved in 2010. So for the last 3 years, all over Florida, we’ve been implementing Common Core. What was passed last week at the State Board is somewhat of a vision of that, but we’re moving forward. I think we need to keep in mind though is how we implement this new assessment that will be chosen this month. Because there is so much riding on this new assessment: teacher evaluations, teacher pay, and certainly the students’ promotion to graduation. These have all been a part of that and will be determined to a large degree through the assessment. So we have to be very careful on how to implement it. Many of us, myself included, have been urging a slow-down in that. Let’s take a pause; let’s make sure we get it right. There’s too much riding on this, especially on the part of students and teachers, that we need to make sure we have it right.”
Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) on the surplus:
“It’s session time. It’s time for the legislative session to come into Tallahassee. You only have two real economic seasons: football season and the legislative season. So it’s a great economic boom to our community. A lot of businesses benefit, both Mom & Pop, lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists – all of those firms benefit well. But the ones who really don’t benefit are state employees. The time when we have a record surplus, we should be trying to do all we can for our state employees. As a product of a state employee, as a 41 year state employee, my mom instilled in me, ‘Son, when you get up there to the Capitol, do all you can for state employees.’ So I’m going to hold true to that, fight to make sure we try to get another pay raise like we fought last year and got a pay raise.”
Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) on Warning Shots:
“We’ve seen several cases where folks who are trying to protect themselves, but they don’t want to kill someone, like in the situation with Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis, they just want to be able to defend themselves and get the person who is trying to commit the violent act towards them away. They can possibly be charged with 10 [years], 20 [years], or even Life. So we’re trying to look at those issues. There are a number of issues coming before the legislature this session, the Warning Shot bill is one of them, but we still have to revisit Stand Your Ground. Stand Your Ground still needs to be repaired; if we can’t repeal it, it needs to be repaired. Most of all, we need to have a great session. It needs to be a session where hopefully Republicans and Democrats can work together. Hopefully, we can pass a Medicaid expansion bill to get coverage to 1.9 million citizens across the state of Florida.”