June 29, 2020

Knight: Florida Leaders Must Focus on Sustainable Path to Economic Recovery

The following is a statement on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval of the General Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2020-21.

While Governor DeSantis made the right decision by preserving teacher pay increases and environmental conservation funding, we are disappointed in his decision to make substantial budget vetoes instead of first exhausting other options that would put us on a long-term path to recovery. Leaders in other states have been lobbying Congress and the Trump Administration for more federal COVID-19 aid and flexibility in how CARES Act dollars are spent, and they have looked to revenue-raising solutions to fill budget shortfalls.

The path Florida is on right now is unsustainable, particularly given the pandemic and recession. State leaders have opted to provide billions in tax breaks for corporations each year to the detriment of critical public services. Florida’s over-reliance on the sales tax as its main revenue source puts our state on shaky ground during an economic downturn.

The governor claimed in his press conference today, in response to a question on affordable housing, that ‘any economic hardship right now is going to be tied to this pandemic,’ but the reality is that Floridians have long faced barriers to economic mobility. This is particularly true for people of color. Racial disparities in health outcomes, wages, and countless other areas have been exacerbated by years of disinvestment in public services coupled with deep tax cuts for corporations.

Communities can only thrive when residents have access to things like affordable health care, effective job training programs, and hurricane-resilient roads and bridges. We strongly urge the governor and state Legislature to work together after revenue projections are released this August so that they can implement measures to raise revenue and protect the livelihood of our communities.

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