Don Gaetz Plans to Streamline Senate’s Approach to Education
Around the State
Senate President-designate Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, plans to make some committee changes and has been playing “fantasy football” with possible chair appointments among his senators.
And with an election still on the horizon and at least 15 new senators among the 40 seats -- even though the majority of contests appear to be mere formalities -- Gaetz said he still isn’t ready to make any public appointments.
But with education again looming as a priority for Gov. Rick Scott, a Blue Ribbon Task Force is working on recommendations for the governor and Legislature, Gaetz said he intends to revamp how the Senate approaches both university and K-12.
“We’ve got four committees dealing with education,” Gaetz said.
“I thought we were supposed to have this seamless K-20 system and what we’ve had is almost institutionalized the competition for dollars between K-12 folks and higher ed folks.”
Worse, he said, few sit on more than a single committee.
The end result may be two committees, one focused on K-12 and higher education and another focused on budgeting for education.
“I think it would make it easier to work with our friends in the House.”
Meanwhile, mum remains the word on appointments.
However, Gaetz said using examples learned from former Senate presidents Jeff Atwater and Ken Pruitt, he intends to give committee chairs plenty of leeway.
“I like to appoint people or find people who are subject area experts and give them lots of running room,” Gaetz said.
He expects the appointments will come in December.
“I think you pick people based on their subject area expertise,” Gaetz said.
“We’ve got some Democrats and some Republicans who are extraordinarily proficient in particular subject areas and I would hope I’d be thoughtful enough to use their skills.”
But he isn’t ready to follow the lead of House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who already named state Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.