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The People's Response: Stark Contrast to DeSantis State of State

The Florida Legislature meets every year for 60 consecutive days. The governor says teacher pay will be one of the priorities for 2020. (Wikipedia)
The Florida Legislature meets every year for 60 consecutive days. The governor says teacher pay will be one of the priorities for 2020. (Wikipedia)
January 15, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gov. Ron Desantis and Republican legislative leaders tout a booming economy, low unemployment and reduced taxes - while other observers say the true "State of the State" is bleak for working families.

Desantis delivered a wide-ranging speech on accomplishments in education, healthcare and the environment. In response, Democrats say it focused mostly on the wealthy and politically well-connected.

Rich Templin, director of politics and public policy with the Florida AFL-CIO, says the real issues were overlooked. He notes over a 17 year period, the average Floridian has only seen a $1.27 increase in their real wages.

"We have two million people without access to healthcare," says Templin. "We have 445,000 children with no access to healthcare. The economy that they talk about - it isn't, it isn't working for most people."

Progressive lawmakers and advocates gave what they dubbed "The People's Response" to the State of the State, calling attention to their "Sunshine Agenda" - their name for a set of proposals that work for all Floridians, which includes expanding Medicaid.

In his address, Desantis talked about the success with Florida not having state income tax or an estate tax. Templin says legislative leaders don't have to raise taxes on working families - they just need to reexamine the billions of dollars in loopholes in the corporate income tax.

"We gave rebates to 1% of Florida corporations who pay the corporate income tax, totaling $562 million," says Templin. "Those are all resources that can go to address some of the problems that we're seeing across the state."

DeSantis told lawmakers he wants to raise the minimum salary for teachers to $47,500. Templin sees that as a positive sign that at least teacher pay is being discussed, and notes there's a long way to go to improve it.

Disclosure: Florida AFL-CIO contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Civic Engagement, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL