Good news: State Reps. John Legg and Will Weatherford have moved up the ranks, winning chairmanships of education committees in the Legislature this week.
Bad news: Financially, it's the worst time in decades to run a committee. Tax revenue is dropping. Special budget requests have been nixed. The economy is only worsening.
Legg, R-Port Richey, will lead the panel on policies involving pre-kindergarten to high schools. He said it's good for Pasco to have "rising leaders" in Tallahassee.
"Obviously, whenever there's crisis, there's opportunity to do good for the people of Florida," said Legg, founder of Dayspring Academy charter school.
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, takes over the committee on spending for state and community colleges, as well as workforce issues.
"My priority for the next two years is anything that creates jobs in the state of Florida. … Anything that will bring our economy forward and create jobs, and get this economy moving forward, that is what I am pushing for," said Weatherford, who is expected to become House Speaker in 2012.
Their assignments mean Pasco County lawmakers will have important roles on education issues. But for them and other local lawmakers who won chairmanships, the dwindling state budget makes it more difficult to fund special projects without help from leadership.
In both chambers, all but one of Pasco's nine-person delegation received chairmanships:
• Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, who represents central and east Pasco, retained chairmanship of the appropriations committee for criminal justice.
• Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, is chairwoman of the panel on children, family and elder affairs. She represents the southeastern corner of Pasco.
• Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin, is chairman of the elder and family service committee. Anderson represents Trinity and Holiday in southwest Pasco.
• Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, is chairman of transportation and economic development appropriations. Glorioso represents a sliver of southeast Pasco.
• Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, is chairman of the joint administrative procedures committee. Schenck's district includes north-central Pasco.
Rep. Peter Nehr, Tarpon Springs, whose district includes a sliver of southwest Pasco, did not receive any chairman post.
In November, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, was named president pro tempore by Senate President Jeff Atwater, a post that makes him Atwater's top chief. Fasano will remain chairman of the transportation and economic development panel in the Senate.
Times staff writer Jeffrey S. Solochek contributed to this report. David DeCamp can be reached at [email protected] or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.