Florida's state budget is more than just a document detailing the dollars and cents that are spent on all of the state government's various functions; how much and where we invest our shared resources is also a reflection of our state's values and priorities. On the spending side, state appropriations fund critical programs and services such as education, health care, the environment, safety net programs, and more. If funded sufficiently, these areas create the foundation for strong, resilient communities. On the income side, state revenues are required to be adequate and appropriate to fund these services at a level that enables all Floridians the opportunity to thrive, today and in the future.
Unfortunately, Florida's tax code has not kept pace with the needs of Floridians, nor has it created a stable revenue base to fund these key areas. Almost 80 percent of the revenue generated by the state's "upside down" tax system - in which Floridians with the lowest incomes pay a greater share of their incomes in state and local taxes, compared to those with the highest incomes - comes from the sales and use tax, which is supported by Florida's households. This tax structure also locks in the deep racial and ethnic disparities that are in the foundation of our state's economy.
At the same time, the state has consistently under-invested in residents and communities by cutting taxes and providing tax breaks for corporations. This not only leaves Florida's revenue and budget vulnerable in the face of economic downturns - as we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic - it also shortchanges hard working Floridians who need things like access to health services, high-quality education for their children, clean air and water, or safe and affordable housing.
The time is ripe for Florida to adopt common-sense and equitable policies to modernize the tax code and raise revenue. This would help Floridians recover from the current recession, and also make our state stronger in the future. By eliminating revenue-losing tax incentives, closing corporate tax loopholes, and adopting a strategy of making proactive investments in communities instead of cutting taxes, Florida can get on the road to more equitable and sustainable economic growth that benefits all of its residents.