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Trump Visits, Hurricanes, Lobbyists: A Look at Florida's 2017, by the Numbers

December 29, 2017 - 6:00am
Donald Trump, Rick Scott, Richard Corcoran and Joe Negron
Donald Trump, Rick Scott, Richard Corcoran and Joe Negron

2017 was, if nothing else, an eventful year in Florida, with presidential visits, a busy hurricane season and political changeups galore. 

Here's a look at the year by the numbers:


Around the State

$50 billion: Estimated cost of damage from Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma made landfall as a Category 4 storm in September, battering the Sunshine State with high-speed winds and heavy rains. State officials have yet to issue a total cost of damages from the storm, but some early estimates believe Irma's destruction could end up being some of the costliest in Florida history.


$2.5 billion: Estimated cost of agricultural damage from Hurricane Irma
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said in November the Category 4 storm caused massive damage to some of the state’s most precious agricultural commodities like citrus and other crops important to the state -- to the tune of $2.5 billion. 
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimated losses for each segment of agriculture in Florida, accounting for crop losses as well as ancillary losses, which include debris cleanup, damaged infrastructure and animals’ long-term welfare affected by the monster storm.
Florida’s citrus industry took the biggest hit from Hurricane Irma, with initial estimates finding the storm devastated the state’s largest agricultural industry with nearly $761 million worth of damage. These numbers are just preliminary estimates, though, and could go up as time goes on.


865,974: Number of Hurricane Irma claims filed in Florida

The value of all those claims is estimated at $6.6 billion; only 419,095 of them have been closed with payment, 265,725 have been closed without payment. There are still 181,154 open claims.


88 million: Number of tourists visiting Florida from January to September
VISIT FLORIDA estimated approximately 88.2 million people came to the Sunshine State this year, an increase from the 85.4 million visitors who came to Florida during the same period last year -- which ends up as a climb of about 3.3 percent.


$1.5 million: Cost of a three-day stay in Palm Beach for President Donald Trump
Local law enforcement officials found themselves in an unprecedented position in 2017 with Trump’s presidency. The president’s frequent visits to Palm Beach County meant police officers and local governments would need to beef up security measures to ensure Trump was safe during his visits.

The $1.5 million price tag was just a preliminary estimate of Trump’s April trip to Palm Beach when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said the majority ($1.35 million, or 90 percent) of the cost was strictly for law enforcement personnel. 


8: Number of special elections scheduled in 2017
Florida politicos certainly kept Gov. Rick Scott busy scheduling special elections with a high number of departures from the state legislature in 2017.

Scott scheduled eight different special elections in 2017, with four of those special general elections happening this year. The remainder are scheduled for dates in 2018.


3: Number of holidays President Donald Trump spent in Palm Beach
Donald Trump took the reins of the country in January and spent a significant amount of time at his part-time residence of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. By the time April rolled around, Trump had been to Palm Beach nearly 10 times, causing traffic pileups and protests citywide.

The president spent three holidays in Palm Beach: Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 


2: Number of chairs at the Florida Democratic Party
The Florida Democratic Party saw not one, but two, staff shakeups in 2017. In January, real estate mogul and Miami Democratic megadonor Stephen Bittel blew out his opponents to become the party’s chairman, but Bittel’s term didn’t last long.

In November, Bittel resigned after Politico Florida story detailed allegations of “creepy” behavior towards former Democratic party staffers and consultants.

Bittel’s resignation meant yet another election for the FDP, which had already done the same song and dance just months before.

Palm Beach County Democratic executive committeewoman Terrie Rizzo won the race to replace Bittel in December.

1: Number of Cabinet Members to Leave Office
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater left his post in the Florida Cabinet in February for a job with Florida Atlantic University.

Atwater had a storied career in Florida politics, serving in the Florida House of Representatives 2002 to 2010 and then in the Senate. Atwater was tapped as Senate President from 2008 to 2010 and then ran for CFO, a campaign he won by a wide margin.

He was first elected to the CFO job in 2011 and was reelected to the position in 2014.

Gov. Rick Scott appointed former state Rep. Jimmy Patronis to Atwater’s position in June.


Florida Legislature

$83 billion: Florida’s budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year
After 60 days, Florida lawmakers eventually reached an agreement over Florida’s annual budget, but it wasn’t without some drama. 

The 2017 legislative session was particularly contentious between House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, and Gov. Rick Scott, who vehemently disagreed over funding for Scott’s twin pride and joy, Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. 


$300 million: Total funding allocated for Panhandle Counties affected by Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The Triumph Gulf Coast awarded Panhandle communities $300 million to aid in economic recovery efforts after millions of barrels of oil ravaged their cities and towns in 2010.
Gov. Rick Scott signed two bills into law allowing the Triumph Gulf Coast to begin payments to make reparations for the damage.
"In 2010, our beautiful beaches were devastated by the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," Scott said in a statement. "While the surrounding communities have worked hard to recover, this funding will allow them to make critical local investments and continue our efforts to market the state. 
The first payment from BP -- totaling $1.5 billion -- will be transferred to the Triumph Gulf Coast, which will use the money for various projects in the Panhandle.


$140 million: Total funding approved for Florida’s ‘Schools of Hope’ law
Florida lawmakers passed a sweeping education bill during the 2017 legislative session, with a significant chunk of the money set aside for a plan to turn around the state’s failing schools.

A portion of the allocated funding -- $51.5 million -- was set aside for extra funding for up to 25 low-performing traditional public schools. 

The rest of the total funding is set to go to “hope operators,” who could start up charter schools within five miles of a low-performing school to give students more options in education.


1.1 million: Number of Floridians without representation in Tallahassee for 2018
The sharp departures of several legislators from their jobs in the state Capitol in 2017 have left a hole of representation in Tallahassee for 2018.

Six seats are currently open headed into 2018, leaving 1.1 million Floridians without a state lawmaker for next year’s 60-day legislative session.

For reference, here’s a look at which lawmakers left office this year


3052: Number of bills proposed in 2017 legislative session
State lawmakers pitched over 3,000 different bills during the this year’s legislative session, though a very small number of those bills actually passed both chambers. 


2,122: Number of registered lobbyists in Florida in 2017
Over two thousand lobbyists were working full speed ahead to pass proposals for their clients during this year’s legislative session. 

211: Number of bills passed by both chambers in 2017
Despite the large number of bills proposed by state lawmakers, very few actually went the distance and were passed by both chambers. 

Among this year’s legislative victories: an bill to shift the “burden of proof” for Florida Stand Your Ground cases and a bill to expand Florida’s medical marijuana licensing process for treatment centers. 



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen


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