Florida residents deserved more from the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget agreement released by the Florida Legislature this afternoon. Notably, per-pupil funding in K-12 is at a level lower — in real terms — than it was a decade ago, lawmakers failed to expand Medicaid to the more than 500,000 Floridians in the health care coverage gap (who are among the 2.6 million uninsured Floridians) and lawmakers raided the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund, diverting more than $150 million to be used for purposes other than affordable housing.
In terms of the tax cut package, history tells us that the reductions in taxes on profitable business do not drive real economic growth. And the state continues to make small, temporary reductions in the sales tax that will have a negligible impact on the wallets of Florida families and seniors. A recent United Way report points out that 44 percent of all Florida households can’t afford to put food on the table and afford other necessities like child care and transportation, so minor sales tax exemptions won’t even put a dent in most families’ expenses. In this fiscal year alone, the state is forgoing almost $80 million in revenue that could have instead been used toward public services that benefit all our residents.
In the coming days, the Florida Policy Institute will publish pieces analyzing specific areas of the budget, to help inform Sunshine State residents of lawmakers’ decisions that ultimately affect their health and livelihood.