In a joint letter, Florida Policy Institute (FPI) and 35 organizations from across the state called on Governor Ron DeSantis to pursue "every available avenue" to preserve hard-won priorities in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget.
Specifically, the group urged DeSantis to take the following actions in order to address potential budget gaps:
- Lobby the Trump Administration and Florida’s congressional delegation for more federal aid to states and localities to address revenue losses. Moody’s Analytics predicts that Florida will have an $8 billion revenue shortfall. Without additional aid, the state is facing a fiscal cliff. Governors from both parties have urged action for additional state support.
- Advocate for an FMAP increase and extension. The most effective, flexible, and efficient form of state fiscal relief would be a larger increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid that continues until the economy fully recovers. The Families First Act provided a small, temporary increase in federal Medicaid funding — an estimated $1.69 billion for Florida — but that increase is not enough and will end prematurely. An additional FMAP increase would help the state’s Medicaid program respond to the additional health care demands resulting from COVID-19 while freeing up state funds to be spent in other urgent areas.
- Advocate for retroactive flexibility in federal CARES Act aid. Florida received $8.3 billion from the CRF, with $2.5 billion going directly to local governments. However, guidance issued by the US Department of Treasury states that “funds may not be used to fill shortfalls in government revenue” and that “revenue replacement is not a permissible use of Fund payments.” States need revised guidance in order to buoy state budgets and boost families and communities facing hardship. Added flexibility for CRF funds will increase the likelihood that these funds can be used to preserve budget priorities.
- Work with the Legislature to identify common-sense measures to raise state revenue. After the Revenue Estimating Conference releases updated revenue figures and Congress weighs in with additional state aid, the scope of Florida’s budget gap will become clearer. But the fiscal challenges the state faces are not just immediate — revenue must be raised to address longer-term problems. Florida loses billions each year in revenue through tax loopholes that have allowed the wealthiest Floridians to avoid paying what they owe. Measures such as enforcing the sales tax on online sales, eliminating tax exemptions for luxury items, holding corporations accountable for their tax liability, and eliminating subsidies for revenue-losing programs can raise the revenue needed to maintain the state’s priorities now and into the future.
The following organizations signed on to the letter:
Florida Policy Institute
Alianza for Progress
Allegany Franciscan Ministries
Daystar Life Center, Inc.
Faith in Public Life
Farmworkers Self-Help Inc.
Fines and Fees Justice Center
Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
Florida Association of Nonprofits
Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy
Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Florida Children's Council
Florida Conservation Voters
Florida Health Justice Project
Florida Housing Coalition
Florida Impact to End Hunger
Florida Voices for Health
Habitat for Humanity of Florida
League of Women Voters of Florida
Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.
Miami Freedom Project
NAACP Upper Pinellas County
National Association of Social Workers - Florida
Opportunity For All Floridians
Second Harvest Food Bank
Star of the Sea Foundation, Inc.
The Children’s Campaign
The Common Ground Project
The Community Health Center of West Palm Beach
United Way of Broward County
United Way of Florida