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Florida Speaker-Designate Danny Perez on Property Insurance: “People Should Be Frustrated”

The Florida Standard got an exclusive look into what the future holds when Perez takes over from Speaker Renner in November 2024.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — During his designation ceremony on Monday, Speaker-Designate Daniel Perez (R-Westchester), delivered a bold speech that celebrated the success of Florida – and also made the case for what he called limited but effective government.

“I believe in limited government because history has taught us what happens when people with power begin to think they know more than the people who gave them their power,” Perez said in his speech.

At the ceremony, each member of the Republican conference received a gift from Perez – a framed, handwritten letter from one of the men who fought in the Bay of Pigs more than 60 years ago.

In addition, survivors from Assault Brigade 2506 shared personal stories of courage to inspire the House Supermajority as they began assignments for a new legislative session in January.

After the formalities, The Florida Standard spoke with Perez for a glimpse of what the future holds when he assumes the role of speaker in November 2024.

During the next 12 months, what will your focus be?

“Over the next 12 months, before we take over the helm, we’ll continue to support Speaker Renner and his priorities, which I look forward to as we start the second committee week here shortly.

We’ve done great reform in education. We’ve been able to give power back to our parents in deciding what curriculum is right for their child or wrong for their child.”

What are some of your top priorities when you assume the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives?

“In my role as a state representative or as an incoming Speaker of the House, my greatest concern has to continue to be property insurance. We’ve been able to chip away at property insurance but haven’t been able to completely solve the problem.”

What do you tell your constituents when they are being told to just wait – to be patient – regarding the rising costs of property insurance?

“‘I feel you, I get it.’ You know, one thing I’m not telling them is to be patient. No one should have to be patient when their insurance is going up 120 percent. That’s my case too. My property insurance is going up 120 percent. I feel it. People should be frustrated. They should be pissed. I’m pissed. That’s why this issue is still a priority for me and it has to be a priority for the Legislature until we solve the problem. No one has the perfect answer or would have already done it. But we have to continue to have the debate, the committees, and the strategy sessions until we finally cross the finish line.”

You also have a more personal priority, is that right?

“On the personal side, and I said this in my speech today, there is a population that I call the population of the voiceless – and those are the people that have special needs or developmental disabilities. I think we have a role as the government or as elected officials to stand up for those people who can’t stand up for themselves. And that population is most important to me.

My brother is severely autistic. I’ve been able to see that firsthand in my own family, but also in other families that didn’t have the same resources that my family did. My brother was very blessed – he was surrounded by people that loved him, that would give everything for him. But others aren’t as fortunate. One of my greatest accomplishments would be to help change the lives of that population.

I started a pilot program in Miami Dade County last year alongside my colleagues through the legislature. The whole point of the pilot program is to take away the wait list that exists right now for people with developmental disabilities. Many of them are waiting to receive health care coverage and the proper and necessary treatment to make their lives as easy as possible.”

Floridians are getting squeezed not only on property insurance but rising property taxes as well. The Legislature took steps this past session to provide historic cuts at the state level on sales tax, tolls, gas tax and so on. But is there more that the Legislature can do to help block these local municipalities from raising property taxes, only to increase budgets and spend more?

“Thanks for acknowledging the historic tax cuts that we passed this last session because I was very proud of them, as were my colleagues. Floridians are saving close to $3 billion in the tax package, which is historical.

I understand what people are going through with property taxes because I’m going through it with my own family. My parents live in the same house that I grew up in. It’s a small house that my grandfather bought in 1973 west of 87th Avenue. The only thing that existed nearby was strawberry fields.

But as property taxes rise, I want to find a solution just as bad as they do. They should be frustrated. But I will tell you that we presented a ballot initiative to increase homestead exemptions for full-time residents for another $25,000. But it failed and was voted down by the voters in Florida. To be honest, I don’t understand that.

Think about the person who is a senior citizen that’s on a fixed income and all of a sudden their property insurance and property taxes are starting to chip away at their savings. It’s sad and we have to do something about it. So that’s on our list.”

Today, you said you wanted your fellow Republicans to do their homework and spend less time in the social scene in Tallahassee and more time focusing on Floridians, can you elaborate on that?

“I don’t believe our state government should be at the center of people’s lives. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a role to play. Earlier today in my speech I spoke about passing bills that really matter. Bills that are actually going to have a positive effect on people’s real lives. There’s a world that we see in the media or in Tallahassee or Washington D.C. and it’s 50,000 feet up in the air. But what are the issues that are literally affecting people on the ground?”