Video By Joshua Santos | JSantos@flagler.edu
Text By Michael Newberger | MNewberger@flagler.edu
Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R-Brevard County) sat down with an array of Flagler College students Wednesday, to discuss the issues facing Florida in these uncertain times.
Haridopolos, like most Republicans in the state legislature, focused primarily on job creation to fight the state’s 10.7 percent unemployment rate.
One of his plans for that is attracting tech companies to invest in the state, specifically luring aerospace companies to invest in the “space coast” to help offset the economic fall out caused by NASA’s shutting down of the space shuttle program.
One of the things standing in the way, in Haridopolos’ view, is government regulations. While he still thinks environmental regulations are a good thing, he thinks the division between federal, state and county boards are doing more damage than good in scaring off potential employers. Hadrapolis supports the streamlining of departments and looking into the costs versus benefits of the services.
While it’s been a controversial topic, Hadrapolis was very much in tune with Gov. Rick Scott’s ongoing plans to cut back on state spending. The state senator said Medicaid and education are the two most expensive state programs and supported the recent cut backs, which he says are the main factors of the states current budget surplus.
“We reduced our budget and spent less.” he said.
However the senator is trying to distance himself of the stereotype of the Republicans being a “party of no.” One of the issues he felt that was most pressing was the state’s infrastructure. Due to the explosive growth of Florida before these dire economic times, Florida’s roads and transportation must be improved to accommodate the larger population. While it may seem expensive in the short term, Haridopolos says that it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run.
Despite the cuts in public education, as a professor at the University of Florida, Haridopolos feels strongly in supporting higher education. He worked to find $3 million for the budget to a lot to the Florida Resident Access Grant, something that many Flagler students rely on to fund their education.