By JIM TURNER
TALLAHASSEE — The 2016 Florida Legislature appears to have been the richest in recent history.
And a couple of incoming freshmen, recently elected without opposition, could help make the 2017 class even wealthier.
The makeup of the 160 members of the 2016 Legislature, considered a “part-time” lawmaking body where people earn about $30,000 a year, featured at least 55 millionaires — three more than in the prior session, according to newly filed financial-disclosure reports. Also, the paperwork for seven members wasn’t available Tuesday morning on the Commission on Ethics website.
In 2011, there were 46 millionaires working in the Senate and House, according to disclosure reports required to be filed annually.
University of Central Florida political-science professor Aubrey Jewett said there is a “middle- to upper-class slant to Florida public policy” as legislators typically have been wealthier than average constituents. But Jewett, who has co-authored a book on Florida politics, admitted being surprised by the growing number of millionaire lawmakers.
“Clearly, being wealthier gives a candidate a better opportunity to get elected as it allows a person to begin to bankroll their campaign and to have the time to spend on campaigning,” Jewett said. “You don’t see a lot of blue-collar workers running, as their work schedules tie them down.”