“We need a Florida that works for all Floridians”
Advocates gathered at the State Capitol and in cities throughout Florida to “Awake The State” on the opening day of the 2017 legislative session. Labor leaders and legislators joined advocates for access to health care, quality public schools, reproductive and immigration rights to provide a counterpoint to Gov. Rick Scott and his legislative allies’ agenda that rewards their corporate backers while ignoring the needs of everyday Floridians. The event at the Capitol was part of a series of statewide actions and events promoting a different agenda: “a Florida that works for all Floridians.”
“We’re focused on promoting a state budget that works for every Floridian, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” said Rich Templin, Ph.D., Legislative and Political Director of the Florida AFL-CIO. “Instead of making smart investments in our communities that will create jobs, this legislature is actually considering preempting local governments from having the ability to do anything to advance workers’ well-being.”
For years Gov. Scott and the legislature have wasted billions of tax dollars in corporate handouts at the direct expense of hardworking Floridians who can least afford it. Instead of more unnecessary tax giveaways to corporations that serve to boost the bottom line of the very wealthy, Florida must create opportunities for all Floridians to get ahead.
“Everyday people are fed up with politicians balancing the budget on the backs of hardworking Floridians and our most vulnerable residents – children, the disabled, and frail elders,” said Karen Woodall, Executive Director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy. “We simply can’t afford any more tax giveaways to corporations or cuts to services each of us rely on – from our schools to our health care to our highways and bridges. In fact, we need more investment in our human infrastructure.”
Instead of more corporate tax giveaways, Awake The State advocates are calling on Gov. Scott and lawmakers to invest in Florida’s future and fully fund public education, increase access to health care coverage, protect our land and water, and upgrade our infrastructure.
“This is not about hard choices, but a question of priorities,” said Rep. Shevrin Jones. “It’s time to Awake The State.”
FSU graduate student Haley Gentile spoke out against recent and pending legislation designed to undermine safe and legal abortion care. “It’s time to Awake The State and recognize that a woman’s experience having an abortion should be supportive, affordable, available in her community, and without shame or stigma,” she said.
“In Florida, our quality of life depends on a healthy environment. Millions choose to live here and even more visit because of our rivers, springs, beaches, and access to nature,” said Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters. “And yet every year, Gov. Scott and legislative leaders misappropriate funds intended for conservation, stand in the way of renewable energy options, and push policies that damage natural treasures like our springs and the Everglades. It is time to Awake the State and invest in protecting our water and the natural places that make Florida special.”
“Anti-immigrant and anti-family politics and policies are not a winning strategy in a state like Florida where a growing majority of Latino, Immigrant and African-American voters are key to municipal and the 2018 elections,” said Francesca Menes, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Florida Immigrant Coalition. “These measures would undermine the authority of local governments to protect its residents, public safety and trust, our economy and the very principles – diversity, opportunity, inclusion – that define us as Americans.”
In addition to the event at The Capitol, Awake the State activists have shared or will be sharing later this afternoon their progressive platform at events in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Stuart, Cocoa and Ocala.
Awake The State started as a Facebook page that quickly grew to thousands strong, resulting in events in cities across the state in March of 2011. Every year since, Floridians have organized Awake The State events in their communities at the beginning of the legislative session to engage their neighbors on important issues affecting our state. The Awake The State movement provides a platform for everyday Floridians to make their voices heard and fight for a Florida that works for all Floridians while pushing back against Rick Scott and the legislature’s wrongheaded priorities that reward the wealthy and well-connected.