NEBA’s August meeting was held on Tuesday, August 27.  The speaker was Dr. Neal Dunn, who represents the 2nd Congressional District of Florida, which includes 19 counties in North Florida stretching from Panama City Beach to Ocala, and includes much of Tallahassee, Lake City, and Marion County.

The Panama City Republican said time has proven the president’s instincts were right when he pushed for a reduction in corporate and individual tax rates in 2017. He said it’s not true that tax cuts cause revenue to go down – more money is in everyone’s pockets, so the economy is growing.

Regarding healthcare, Dunn said an open market with transparent pricing is the best option, and hopes that eventually Congress will be able to legislate this. 

Of particular interest were his remarks about Hurricane Michael, which he said people outside of north Florida have largely forgotten.  Insurance and federal money has just started flowing in the areas most affected.  Agricultural losses were huge, with the timber industry sustaining more than $3 billion in damages.  Dunn said he is lobbying the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate timber a row crop to unleash more federal aid.

Dunn is also supporting a Residential Recovery Zone Act, which will allow primary residents to get a first time home buyer credit (even if they are not buying their first home); incentivize banks with CRA credits; and create Disaster Opportunity Zones, which mitigate capital gains taxes thereby jump starting developers.

Finally, Dunn reassured many who feared Tyndall Air Force Base might not reopen. “That was the first worry everybody had,” he said.

Dunn says there are big plans for the facility when it’s rebuilt. The Air Force wants to base three squadrons of its newest fighter, the F-35, at Tyndall. Dunn says there are also plans to base two dozen MQ-9 Reaper drones there by 2023. “We’re looking at almost a hundred combat aircraft based out of Tyndall,” says Dunn. “It will actually be busier than it was before the storm.”