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.

FCFEP Chair Discusses Tax Cuts And Economic Development

Dr. Nelson Easterling writes that the trickle-down theory of tax cuts for the wealthy doesn’t work.

> Read the Chair’s Perspective.

Flawed Medicaid Proposals Would Kill Florida Jobs

Critics have consistently portrayed Florida's Medicaid program as an unsustainable drain on Florida's budget, setting the stage for a number of legislative proposals to cut the program.

In reality, however, beyond the critical role it plays in the lives of recipients and in the health care system as a whole, Medicaid is also a highly efficient job creator and economic catalyst, in part because the majority of funding comes from the federal government.

> Read the report.

Paying More for Less: Budget Cuts Will Hurt Floridians As Tax System Remains Inadequate

Florida’s new governor and legislative leaders have indicated that they will rely solely on spending cuts to balance the state budget in the legislative session beginning in  March.  Once again Florida faces a gap – this one estimated at $3.5 billion – between anticipated revenue and the costs of continuing current state services.

Since 2007, the legislature has taken a series of actions to balance the budget in response to the recession.  Included are cuts to services depended upon by Floridians and imposing new fees and taxes that hit middle- and low-income Floridians disproportionately.

The result is that these Florida residents are being asked to pay a heavier tax burden for a reduced level of public services.

> Read the report.

Medicaid Is an Inappropriate Scapegoat for Budget Woes

One certain target for budget cuts as  legislators begin balancing next year’s Florida budget will be the Medicaid program.

In attempting to build a case for slashing Medicaid, however, critics have overstated and even misrepresented the nature of both recent trends and future projections.

Medicaid is an inappropriate scapegoat for Florida's budget woes, particularly because the health and well-being of the most vulnerable Floridians who must rely on it hang in the balance.

> Read the report.

Unbalancing Florida’s Tax System: Eliminating Taxes on Wealth Shifts Burden to Others

Two taxes targeted specifically to wealth disappeared during the last decade after having been collected in Florida for more than three-quarters of a century.

Elimination of these taxes—both paid almost entirely by more affluent Floridians—has cost the state more than $12 billion to date.  Furthermore, their absence will cost the state $2 billion each year in the future.

> Read the report.

Primer on Florida's State Budget and Tax System

A citizens' guide to the sources of state funds, where tax money goes, and how the budget process works

The state budget affects Florida's 18 million people every day, even though most don't often think about it.

By understanding the budget and tax policy that provides the revenue for the budget, Floridians can participate in the allocation of resources to their top priorities and make a difference in the kind of state we're building and what it will be in the future.

> Read the Primer.

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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.