Democrats from the Sunshine State are offering some praise for Gov. Ron DeSantis after his first legislative session which ended earlier this month.
State Rep. John Cortes, D – Kissimmee, joined other lawmakers, state CFO Jimmy Petronis and a host of firefighters to celebrate DeSantis signing a bill that will give firefighters better benefits if they get cancer and death benefits for their family if that firefighter dies from that disease.
“The firefighters need it,” Cortes said, “Cancer is….everybody is getting it, and they have to go through asbestos buildings and chemicals that I don’t even know about. Then later they get cancer.”
“This is a great thing,” Cortes said before tipping his cap to DeSantis. “I want to thank him very much.”
This type of event, with legislators from both sides of the aisle celebrating the governor helping first responders, would not have likely taken place just a year ago, Cortes told Florida Daily.
“He’s a little better than Rick Scott. Let’s just say that,” Cortes said about DeSantis.
Patronis, a Republican, did not offer either the GOP or the Democrats more credit than the other when it came to passing the bill. While this probably does not signal a new day in Florida politics, it did get legislators like Cortes to at least admit things are not all bad.
“There was a couple of bills in there that he approved that I am happy about,” Cortes said. With the next election right around the corner, don’t expect praise from across the aisle to become the norm.
Freshman state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, D- Maitland, said there is much that DeSantis did not do. She is particularly unhappy that his education policies, including expanding school choice, were passed by the Legislature.
“I am not happy…because he is really promoting the private school vouchers and the expansion of so-called ‘choice’ which I don’t see it that way,” she said. “I see it as taking away from public schools. If we could fund public schools adequately and make the private and charter schools have the same accountability, that would be a different story.”
Still, even Goff-Marcil had some nice things to say about DeSantis, telling Florida Daily there have been some good and bad aspects of his first four and a half months in office.
“I like his focus on the environment and putting more money in the budget for the environment,” she said. “We do need to get some kind of water policy though…that is extremely important.”
Both Democrats were disappointed with the implementation of Amendment 4 and the bill to punish “sanctuary cities”.
Cortes said he is ready to work with Republicans in Tallahassee.
“We’ve got to get some language in there and correct them. I’m sure if we do a compromise we can get something done. It’s all about talking to each other and not pointing fingers.” Cortes told Florida Daily.
Goff-Marcil said DeSantis seems to be trying to build bridges.
“A start was his veto of the ban on the ban of the plastics,” she said. “We are very passionate about local governments being able to regulate their environmental policies, especially with the plastics. We have a huge problem with that and we need to address it. That was a huge step.”
The question is how much either side will be willing to give with November 2020 quickly approaching.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.