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State Reps Anna Eskamani & Amber Mariano Reflect On Legislative Wins And Losses


Republican lawmakers are reflecting on a successful legislative session, with wins on bills ranging from a new school voucher program to a bill allowing school teachers to be armed. Democratic lawmakers return from Tallahassee with less to celebrate.

Still there was bipartisan support for the budget, and for some pieces of legislation including a bill to bolster vocational training,  and after years of decline, more state funding for the arts.

Funding for the state Division of Cultural Affairs was slashed by 90% last year. Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents parts of Orange County, said there’s a lot more money in the budget this year. 

“We did, across the aisle, increase arts funding from what was $2.6 million last session to now $21 million, which believe it or not has moved Florida in the ranking from 48 out of fifty to 20 out of fifty, which I think just speaks to the lack of arts funding across our country,” said Eskamani.

Republican Amber Mariano, representing parts of Pasco County, applauded the funding boost.

“I think Representative Eskamani and Representative [Carlos Guillermo] Smith did a great job in, taking, honestly they had several issues they worked on, but really honing in on that issue because it is really important.” 

Grants from the program help fund hundreds of nonprofits, including theaters, museums and science centers.