2016-17 HHS Budget Is Best Viewed As a Series of Missed Opportunities

Unlike last year, the 2016 regular session of the Florida Legislature adjourned on time, with House and Senate agreeing on a budget for the upcoming year.

In 2015, the disagreement over whether or not to accept what would have been a 100 percent federally funded extension of health coverage to as many as 800,000 uninsured, very low-income Floridians pushed the 2015 session into overtime.  This year, however, Medicaid expansion and its potential benefit to Florida's businesses, families and taxpayers were barely discussed. Instead, House and Senate entered the budget negotiation process with similar proposals and the intent to avoid another impasse.

The result, the 2016–17 General Appropriations Act, includes some small but important efforts to address Floridians' unmet health care and human services (HHS) needs.  In the larger picture, however, the 2016–17 HHS budget is best viewed as a series of missed opportunities that will create additional unmet need, particularly given the record amount of available general revenue.

> Read the report.

A Closer Look at Florida’s Refusal to Implement the Affordable Care Act

With key components of the Affordable Care Act taking effect by January 2014, refusal by Florida's elected leadership to move forward with any aspect of ACA implementation has already left the state "a lap behind" with respect to completion of the basic tasks.

Only 26 of the original 45 months of the implementation "race" remain, and Florida has yet to start its engine.

Leaders' actions aim to thwart access by Florida's families and small businesses to billions in Florida's rightful share of federal tax dollars that would provide affordable, meaningful coverage for many who lack it, while strengthening and protecting coverage for those who already have it.

> Read the report.

Tax Incentives Don’t Create Jobs, But Redistribute Income Upwards

Tax incentives designed as economic development tools do not work.

But they are not only failures in that regard; they are actually destructive forces in the economy.

Their failure is proved by the lack of jobs that have been created and the costs associated with their enactment.  The simple fact is they do not CREATE jobs.  At best, they simply move them from one state or locale to another.  And if Florida can induce a company to relocate a job here, another state can induce another company to move a job there.

It is at best a zero sum game.  For us.  But it is not a zero sum game for the corporations.

These tax incentives should be seen for what they really are: another tool for redistributing income and wealth upwards.

> Read the Chair’s Perspective.

Amendment 3: “TABOR/Smart Caps”
The Impact on Florida’s Kids, Communities and Economy

> View a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF document.

Three Million Floridians in Poverty; Legislature Cuts Safety Net

The number of Floridians in poverty surpassed three million in 2010, the Census Bureau reported last week.

One of every six Floridians and almost one of every four children under 18 live in poverty. That means they live in a two-person family earning no more than $14,676 annually or a three-person family earning no more than $17,374.

It is in this environment of growing poverty that the Florida Legislature cuts safety net programs like unemployment compensation and Medicaid designed to cushion Floridians from the worst effects of economic downturns. State policymakers also reject federal funding for health and social services for Floridians and oppose the federal health care law that would provide insurance coverage to millions of the uninsured.

> Read the report.

“How Florida’s Tax System Hurts the Middle Class”

> View here.

Medicaid Plan Increases HMO Profits

The Medicaid legislation passed during the 2011 session aims to expand Florida's experimental managed care plan.  One of the most controversial issues debated was the question of what standards should be used to regulate HMO profits.

The choice selected by the legislature—called “achieved savings rebate”—delivers a massive bonus to managed care plans and their frequently out-of-state executives and investors, at the expense of the most vulnerable patients and Florida taxpayers.

The option not selected—“medical loss ratio”—would have reduced HMO profits and provided more accountability that has been lacking for Medicaid managed care in Florida.

> Read the report.

Florida Pursues Risky Experiment Of Education Privatization

Florida is pursuing education privatization further and faster than any other state, conducting a risky experiment with the education of 2.6 million public school students and the schools that serve them.

Florida already is the leader among the states in the number of students in voucher programs and public dollars expended for them.  The Florida Legislature went even further in its 2011 session, expanding every alternative to traditional public schools—even while it cut public school funding for the fourth year in a row.

The state's focus on choice programs hurts the public school system by diverting public money to private schools and for-profit education companies.

> Read the report.

How Debt Ceiling Cuts Will Work

It has been difficult to follow the myriad conversations about what programs will be exempt from the deficit reduction knife IF, for any number of reasons, the newly established Joint Select Committee fails.

This two-page summary summarizes how the program will work if the Joint Committee does not succeed in producing, passing and enacting legislation by the end of 2011 that would reduce projected deficits by at least $1.2 trillion through 2021.  The summary also provides links to more detailed information about the cuts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

> Read the report.

Debt Limit Law Not Balanced, Provides No Path to Stability

FCFEP Chair Nelson Easterling writes that the debt ceiling agreement doesn’t provide a path to economic stability.

Furthermore, he says, the agreement is not balanced, “ since the people who created the economic downturn do not have to suffer at all.”

What is needed is a true balanced approach--not a further dismantling of the safety net.

> Read Dr. Easterling’s view of the debt agreement here and here.

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The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy
579 East Call Street
Tallahassee Florida 32301
Phone: 850-325-6480
Email: info@fcfep.org

The mission of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy is to conduct independent research, develop new ideas, and advise policymakers on state fiscal and economic policy.  The Center pays particular attention to policy impacts on low- and moderate-income individuals, families and neighborhoods, workers, and small businesses.  The Center works to heighten public awareness of the need to adequately fund programs that improve opportunities, choices, quality of life outcomes, and the economic well-being of all Floridians.