The title of “representative” is new to Mike Beltran, but public service is not.
Former Gov. Rick Scott twice named the Lithia attorney to judicial nominating commissions in both Orlando and Tampa. Since his November win over Democratic opponent Debbie Katt, Beltran’s now the representative for District 57 which includes Riverview, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach, Sun City Center and Wimauma.
He succeeds Jake Raburn, a fellow Republican who retired after six years in the seat. Beltran’s attached to nine bills this session, including House Bill 675, which would require school districts to provide busing for students who may encounter hazardous conditions on their trek to school.
This could apply to students who live in areas without sidewalks, near heavily-trafficked intersections and roadways, or near large draining ditches, he said.
Additionally, upping the requirement that districts bus students who live 1.5 miles or more from their school could cut down on commuting and help reduce traffic, Beltran said.
“It’s a traffic and safety issue,” he said.
And just how would districts pay for that expanded busing? Beltran thinks eliminating a tax rebate for stadiums – as he’s suggested in House Bill 233 – could help cover the costs. Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa has filed a companion bill.
The rebates – a golden carrot local governments often dangle to lock down teams – aren’t necessary, Beltran said.
“I think Florida is a great place to live and the sports teams are going to stay anyway,” he said. “I’d rather pay for school busing.”
Beltran, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School, ran on a staunchly conservative platform that exalted transparency and accountability and reducing waste in government.
The married father of two also campaigned in favor of pumping more resources into classrooms. That includes increasing teacher pay, Beltran said.
“We need to have more money go into things that help our schools,” he said.
Beltran is assigned to the Judiciary Committee and the civil justice, health quality, justice appropriations, and Pre-K-12 subcommittees.
Beltran said he’s especially excited to hold spots on the health and education subcommittees.
“Health and education – these are two things that take up a large part of our budget and they are two things that are important to Floridians,” he said.
Beltran said his goals for this first term – which officially begins March 5 – are straightforward.
“I just want to make sure we’re spending money on the right things,” he said. “I just want to be a good fiscal conservative.”