In a state like Florida with a growing population of both young people and senior citizens, education and health care are the backbones of the state’s economy and building blocks of healthy communities. Providing a quality education to all of Florida’s students is a core constitutional responsibility of state government and critical to economic growth. Adequate state funding for education provides the foundation for students to compete in an ever-changing economy, and it helps to attract highly qualified teachers and maintain the equity and fairness of Florida’s education system. Access to affordable and timely healthcare can prevent disease, lead to healthier children and families, and lower expenses in emergency care and chronic disease treatment.
Despite these facts, Florida has consistently under-invested in both education and health for over a decade, resulting in poor performance across nearly every measure of academic achievement, health and well-being, and the functioning of our health and educational systems. The COVID-19 health and economic crisis has exacerbated these challenges. The sharp increase in unemployment has forced more people off of their health coverage, while more people have faced acute health problems caused by the pandemic. And as the pandemic ensues, school closures and distance learning have created an environment of uncertainty with a heavy burden on families struggling to weigh risks and facilitate their children's education.
Investing in healthy communities is important now more than ever. Florida leaders can nurture children's potential, build a stronger workforce, and improve residents' overall health by adequately investing in our state's early learning, K-12, higher education, and health systems.