Quality of life is hanging in the balance in Tallahassee these last days of the legislative session. If you don’t have a lot of padding to asorb economic shock, chances are you you’re going to be bruised badly – and receive no care in the meanwhile.

Here’s some things to look for:

  • Immigration issues: Thanks to the full-court press of Latino/as, it’s possible Florida will drop Arizona copycat laws. I’ve had two letters published this week; one each in the St.Petersburg Times and the Orlando Sentinel. Removing unauthorized immigrants from Florida would cost our economy $45 billion according to recent studies – that’s lost wages, purchasing power, sales tax revenue, increases in local taxes for policing and jails, litigation costs to face constitutional challenges.For a legislature elected to fix the economy, spending time on Arizona copy-cat laws looks like a way to break the economy. Even Arizona backed away from doing more because of the painful cost of its own laws.
  • Election reforms seem bent on making harder for people to vote, especially students and the highly mobile. Voter registration drives would all but be curtailed because of bonds and fines under consideration. Local poll workers would be prohibited from answering simple legal questions at the polls. All of this under the guise of preventing voter fraud even though Florida had zero incidents of voter fraud in the last major election. It seems like shadows of Jim Crow.
  • Medicaid is being pushed to managed care in ways that look like balancing the budget by denying services too children and the elderly. How many of us would sleep well at night if we knew that we saved $10/month by letting the baby cry next door all night or that a child will lose a grandparent because there are no more funds for transplants. That may be too dramatic. Let’s just say the grandparent dies an early death because of inadequate treatment for diabetes. Preventable diease and death are all around – if we want to prevent them.
  • One of Florida’s truly bright lights has been the Healthy Families and Healthy Children programs. Those are being cut as well. I need help with the math that says “When can save $2 today and not worry about the $8 it will cost us tomorrow.” We held an End Poverty Conference last month. We’ll have more to say about an anti-poverty network elsewhere on the website. But here’s the progress report: poverty rates have now reversed themselves from their low point in 1973 to return to the levels of 1959. Florida is going in the wrong direction when it comes to creating a healthy and vibrant society.

Florida has budget issues and many legislators ran on the promise to cut both corporate and property taxes. Well, we have a tax problem. We have a regressive tax system that punishes the poor and rewards the extragavant. We have some of the lost cost ratios of taxes to government and schools and healthcare in the country. What’s it brought us? A tanked economy, poor students and second-class health care for a great many Floridians. Seems to me that if we thought of taxes as a way to purchase a healthy society, we could get a lot more bang for our buck.

I’m still waiting fo rthe legislature to work on our economy.

Thursday, 28 April 2011