Commissioner Nikki Fried on Conclusion of 2021 Florida Legislative Session

Apr 30, 2021

Tallahassee, Fla. — Today marks the conclusion of Florida’s sixty-day annual legislative session. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet, offered the following statement:

“For a year, we waited. We waited for Florida’s unemployment disaster to be fixed. We waited for our farmers, small businesses, and frontline workers to get help weathering the storm. We waited for a compassionate response to the social justice issues facing all Floridians. We waited for lawmakers to address this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, the structural weaknesses underlying our pandemic-ravaged economy, and this past year’s crippling effects on our families, our communities, and our state. Many lawmakers pleaded for a special session to address these very real and devastating problems – but they were ignored. These lawmakers offered reasonable, common-sense bills and amendments to actually help the people we were elected to serve – but they were once again ignored. The majority had other priorities in mind.

This session has made it clear: the Governor and his legislative allies don’t care about you. They don’t care about those who have lost their jobs, homes, loved ones, and futures. Big corporations and the wealthy will benefit from the largest budget in Florida’s history. A billion dollars in new taxes on Florida families – and a billion dollars in tax cuts handed to corporations, freeing them from the responsibility of funding niceties like our unemployment system, with taxpayers left holding the bag. Half a billion dollars swept from trust funds that support health care and affordable housing, with backs turned to our neighbors most in need. And among the acts most cruel, $28 million in cuts to Florida Bright Futures for essentials like textbooks, while parents struggle to fulfill the promise of higher education for their children.

While our government is for sale to the richest donors, the Governor’s agencies were showered with billions in stimulus funds – yet our department was slashed by $11 million, putting farmers and ranchers, consumer protection, environmental science, nutrition programs, law enforcement officers, and wildland firefighters at risk.

While no reasonable person should be proud of these achievements, it gets worse. The Governor and his pawns have waged a culture war that no one asked for. They are attacking our fundamental freedoms, making it harder to participate in democracy, demand meaningful change, and protect our own communities, while humiliating transgender children in the interest of partisan politics. In the 2021 legislative session, the Governor and his supplicants have told you that big government knows best. This authoritarian regime wants you to have almost no control over how it spends your money. It’s a regime that raises your taxes, bullies your kids, and strips you of your constitutional rights. The overreaching policies and divisive politics of the past sixty days would have been improved by everyone staying home and having no session at all.”