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Sen. Kelli Stargel.

With economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic slashing tax revenues, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, will be the Florida Senate’s top budget-writer for the next two years.

Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, announced Friday that Stargel will chair the powerful Appropriations Committee. In a memo to senators about the appointment, Simpson acknowledged the budget challenges caused by the pandemic.

“We are all well aware that the ongoing pandemic has placed a tremendous amount of stress on Florida’s economy, and in turn our state budget,” Simpson said in the memo.

“While the most recent reports indicate that our state is recovering more quickly than we initially thought possible, there is no question that much of our time over the next two years will be spent studying issues related to our budget. I have served with Senator Stargel throughout my entire time here in the Senate and have witnessed her ability to effectively manage complex policy and budget issues. She will be a key member of the Senate leadership and will work to ensure all senators have the opportunity to play a role in drafting our state budget.”

Stargel was elected to the Senate in 2012 after serving four years in the House. Her district includes parts of Polk and Lake counties.