QUALITY OF LIFE FAIL: Rick Scott and his fellow Rickpublicans gutted measures that protect Floridian’s quality of life. Florida now ranks in the bottom half of the states for median family income, percentage of citizens who have a college degree and gross state product per capita.

Thanks To Scott And The Republicans, Florida's Quality Of Life Trails Other Major States. Michael Abels of DeLand, an instructor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida, and previously a city manager for Longwood, Palm Bay and DeLand, opined: “The primary goal for the Legislature and governor was to use the current fiscal crisis to justify making dramatic cuts to state and ultimately local governments. We are told the legislative actions will increase jobs by reducing the burden of government on business activity. To enhance job creation, vital elements necessary for a sustainable society have been emasculated, including social programs, education, environmental regulation and controls on growth. … Before the 2011 legislative session, indicators pointed to the conclusion that Florida's quality of life lags the majority of states with important quality of life issues, and, moreover, job creation emphasized by the state had not established a foundation of jobs with sustainable incomes.” [Op-ed, Orlando Sentinel, 6/14/11]

Florida Ranks In The Bottom Half Of States For Median Family Income, Percentage Of Citizens Who Have A College Degree, And Gross State Product Per Capita. Abels added, “While Gov. Rick Scott is emphasizing job creation, citizens must question if the state job-development program is emphasizing quantity of jobs rather than quality of jobs paying a higher livable wage. We should question our legislative leaders about how the economic foundation built in Florida compares with other states, and, how Florida will progress into the future. There are several relevant economic facts about the state. Statistically, Florida is in the bottom half of all states with median family income, for the percentage of persons in poverty, and for percentage of people unemployed. Florida is about average for citizens with a high-school diploma, but is in the bottom half of all states when viewing the percentage of citizens who have a college degree. Florida is also in the bottom half of all states in gross state product per capita. These statistics indicate that the job base historically built in the state is founded on relatively low-paying jobs. The jobs Florida has been successful in recruiting are heavily associated with tourism and tourism-related service jobs.” [Op-ed, Orlando Sentinel, 6/14/11]

Scott And The Republican-Led Legislature Gutted Measures That Protect Florida’s Quality Of Life Which Attracts New Business To The State. Charles Pattison, president and chief executive of 1000 Friends of Florida, 1000friendsofflorida.org, a statewide nonprofit established in 1986 to serve as a watchdog over growth management in Florida, opined: During “the 2011 session, ‘probusiness’ Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature put Florida's quality of life squarely in their crosshairs. Florida's quarter-century-old system of managing growth was gutted. Important measures to protect the environment were tossed. Long-standing programs to protect drinking water sources and water quality were slashed. This was in the name of promoting jobs, even though extensive residential and commercial development approved by local and state governments over the last few years has yet to be built. How can destroying Florida's quality of life, degrading its drinking water, and passing the costs of development off to taxpayers be an effective long-term economic development strategy? It can't be, especially in light of declining property values. … Public opinion polls consistently show most Florida residents support protecting natural areas, safeguarding drinking water and maintaining a high quality of life. Floridians understand that effective growth management is essential if Florida is to prosper in the 21st century. So in light of what happened during the legislative session, how do we best protect and sustain these qualities that make Florida so attractive to residents and visitors, and that are needed to attract new business?” [Op-ed, St. Petersburg Times, 6/12/11]

Household Income

Florida’s Median Household Income Gap With The National Average Increased Over The Last Decade.

  • In 2009, Florida’s median household income was $44,755 -- $5,466 less than the national average. [U.S. Census, “Florida Quick Facts,” accessed September 25, 2011]
  • “Florida's median household income was $35,876 in 1999 -- $4,940 less than the national average.” [Orlando Sentinel, 9/27/00]

 

Florida Is Ignoring The Economic Impact Of A Declining Standard Of Living. “Bleak Census Bureau numbers…show the income of the typical American family fell for the third year in a row. Now it's roughly where it was in 1996 when adjusted for inflation. … In Florida, median household income was $44,243 in 2010. That's down from $45,631 a year earlier and more than $5,000 less than the nation's median household figure. … How do you take a shrunken wallet and cover a barrage of rising costs, from grocery inflation and gasoline prices to rising electricity rates and, at least for some angry Floridians, skyrocketing sinkhole insurance? We're focused almost exclusively on lowering the jobless rate, which now stands at 9.1 percent nationally, 10.7 percent in Florida and 11.1 percent in the Tampa Bay area. For many looking for work, a position that pays less — a 1996 wage, for example — may still be a welcome job. But do not underestimate the economic impact of a falling standard of living. Households by necessity will spend less. And that will ripple through an economy. Fewer bucks will be spent on restaurants or movie theaters or baseball games. Fewer folks will qualify for a mortgage.” [St. Petersburg Times, 9/15/11]

Property Taxes

“Florida Has A Relatively Higher Property Tax Burden Than The Rest Of The Nation.” “Florida has a relatively higher property tax burden than the rest of the nation. High property taxes negatively affect Florida’s competitiveness predominantly in attracting and maintaining manufacturing – oriented firms as well as organizations that require large amounts of real estate to conduct their business. Florida ranked 28th and 37th nationally due to a relatively higher property tax burden by the Tax Foundation and ALEC, respectively. … Florida’s property tax burden on business ranked high – the upper half of the nation. Every neighboring state except Texas was ranked better for its more favorable property tax burden. High property tax rates may negatively affect Florida’s competitiveness.” [Florida Tax Watch, “State Competitiveness Indices & Rankings: What National Rankings Tell Us about Florida’s Competitiveness,” p.2, 3/2011]

Before 2000, Florida Ranked 16th And 17th In Local Property Tax Burdens:

  • “The largest component of local taxes, the property tax, rose two spots to 16th. Floridians' per capita property tax burden is 2% above the national average.”
  • “Floridians' per capita burden for local government's largest tax source--the property tax—increased $42 in 1999, to $856. Florida's ranking is 17th, up one spot and our per capita burden is $20 higher than the national average.”

 

[Florida Tax Watch, “How Does Florida Compare,” 1999]

Sales Taxes

Florida Ranks In The Lower Half Of The Nation For Total Sales Tax Burden. “Florida is ranked poorly – in the lower half of the nation – for its total sales tax burden. Florida’s sales tax burden on business was also ranked higher compared with every neighboring state except Louisiana.”

Florida Ranked No Better Than 30th In The Nation For Its Total Sales Tax Burden. “Florida ranks almost in the middle for its high local and state sales tax burden. Florida ranked no better than 30th in the nation for its total sales tax burden (the Tax Foundation ranked Florida highest). When the sales tax burden is calculated as a portion of personal income, Florida’s burden is ranked as low as 39th in the nation by ALEC. When excise taxes are added to the calculation, Florida ranks even lower 42nd in the nation by the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Council.”

[Florida Tax Watch, “State Competitiveness Indices & Rankings: What National Rankings Tell Us about Florida’s Competitiveness,” p.4, 3/2011]

Crime

Small Business Leaders Ranked Florida As The Third Worst State In The Country For Crime – A Factor Business Executives Found To Be The Most Important Factor To Determining Quality Of Life. “Considerations of security are so significant that most business executives found it to be the most important factor in determining a state’s quality of life when deciding where to open or expand business operations. When measured by crime per 100 residents, the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Council ranks Florida’s crime as 48th worst in the nation, which indicates that Florida has a high crime rate. According to this index, Florida is considered to be safer than two of its neighboring states: South Carolina (50) and Texas (49).”

Florida’s High Crime Rate May Threaten The Sate’s Economic Competiveness. “Florida is ranked near the bottom of the nation for its high crime rate but is ranked similarly to all of its neighboring states. Given the importance of security to businesses, Florida’s high crime rate may be a threat to competitiveness in the state.”

[Florida Tax Watch, “State Competitiveness Indices & Rankings: What National Rankings Tell Us about Florida’s Competitiveness,” p.7, 3/2011]

Uninsured

The Number Of Uninsured Floridians Has Grown By More Than 1 Million Over The Last Decade – About 3.8 million Without Health Insurance – The 5th Highest In The Nation.  The number of uninsured Floridians has grown by more than 1 million in the last decade according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, writes Kim MacQueen of the Florida Current. As Florida grew between 2000 and 2010 so did the number of those who were not covered by either government or private health insurance. Florida’s population grew from 16 million to 18.5 million in the last ten years, but the same time period saw a swelling in the ranks of those who had no health insurance coverage as well as growth in the number of people enrolled in Medicaid. Medicaid is a state-federal funded health insurance program. The latest estimates show that there are 3.8 million without health insurance. Florida currently has the fifth-highest percentage of uninsured in the nation with a rate of just under 21 percent, behind Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and Mississippi. But both Nevada and Mississippi were behind Florida until 2010. [Florida Current, 9/13/11 and SaintPetersbergBlog, 9/14/11]

Scott And The Republican Legislature Turned Away Millions Of Dollars In Federal Grants For Community Health Centers, In-Home Patient Care, Curbing Child Abuse, Regulating Health Premiums, And Pregnancy Prevention. “When it comes to pursuing federal largess, most of the states that oppose the 2010 health care law have refused to let either principle or politics block their paths to the trough. If Washington is doling out dollars, Republican governors and legislators typically figure they might as well get their share. Then there is Florida. Despite having the country's fourth-highest unemployment rate, its second-highest rate of people without insurance and a $3.7 billion budget gap this year, the state has turned away scores of millions of dollars in grants made available under the Affordable Care Act. And it is not pursuing grants worth many millions more. In recent months, either Gov. Rick Scott’s administration or the state's Republican-controlled Legislature has rejected grants aimed at moving long-term care patients into their homes, curbing child abuse through in-home counseling and strengthening state regulation of health premiums. They have shunned money to help sign up eligible recipients for Medicare, educate teenagers on preventing pregnancy and plan for the health insurance exchanges that the law requires by 2014. While 36 states shared $27 million to counsel health insurance consumers, Florida did not apply for the grants. And in drafting this year's budget, the Legislature failed to authorize an $8.3 million federal grant won by a county health department to expand community health centers.” [New York Times, 8/1/11]