Sadaf Knight
July 28, 2020

Florida Families Would Face Devastating Hardship Under Senate Majority Bill Package

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

While the House’s omnibus federal aid package — approved May 15 — includes provisions that would help millions of families rebuild during the pandemic, the Senate Majority’s COVID-19 relief legislation lacks crucial provisions needed to help people across the nation put food on the table, access medical care, and pay rent.

This legislation has glaring and catastrophic omissions. Despite record high food insecurity — Census data from July reveal that 25.8 million households in the U.S., including 1.9 million in Florida, did not have enough to eat over a seven-day-period — the legislation does not increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Additionally, the bill package includes no new fiscal aid for states and localities to preserve critical public services and avoid layoffs of public workers. According to Moody’s Analytics, Florida is projected to face a staggering $8 billion revenue hole, and without adequate federal dollars to help mitigate the shortfall, our state is likely to see deep cuts to Medicaid, K-12 education, environmental conservation efforts, and mental health care.

This proposal doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of our state and the people who call it home.

Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio must put people first by calling on congressional leaders to do more and pass a better relief package, especially for state and local governments and low-income Floridians who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic and are facing the greatest financial hurdles.

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