Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Spring Hill, took over as president of the Florida Senate on Tuesday, winning election unanimously as he started his two years in charge of the chamber.
Republicans expanded their majority by one seat in the recent election. The GOP currently has a 24-16 majority in the upper chamber.
Simpson pointed to the coronavirus pandemic and noted that Florida will have to make changes to its budget with less revenue coming in.
“None of us who were here last session could have predicted what we’re facing today. Fortunately, Florida is more prepared than most other states. Over the last several years, we voted many times to set aside money to prepare for a rainy day. It will help a lot, but to be clear, it will not solve our problems. We cannot fix our situation by simply spending down our savings account. We need to make structural changes to the budget,” Simpson said on Tuesday.
Simpson said the state government is going to have to make tough decisions as it grapples with the pandemic.
“There will be things that we did in times of plenty that need to be eliminated in these times of lean. We have less revenue, therefore we will have less government. That does not mean all we will do is cut the budget these next two years. There will be places where we need to make investments – like our Northern Everglades, our springs, our most vulnerable children, and our state infrastructure,” Simpson said. “To do our job right we need to be thoughtful, strategic, and long-term in our vision. If we do it right, and I believe we will, our state will recover and prosper in ways we cannot even imagine.”
Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, was elected president pro tempore with no opposition.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.