As the 2018 legislative session kicked off, advocates gathered at The Capitol to “Awake The State” for a Florida that works for every Floridian, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Local leaders and advocates called on Gov. Rick Scott and his allies in the Legislature to pass a budget that invests in hardworking Floridians, not more massive corporate giveaways. Doing so will help lay the foundation for a thriving, secure job market and high quality of life for all Floridians.
“After nearly eight years in power, Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leadership’s economic policies have failed to deliver for everyday Floridians,” said Florida AFL-CIO Legislative and Political Director Rich Templin, Ph.D. “Their massive tax breaks for corporations cost our state billions in lost revenue, are unjust, and rig the game for big-money special interests.”
The capital city event was part of a series of statewide actions and events promoting a just state budget, and pushing back against the failed economic policies of the previous eight years under Gov. Rick Scott that have left everyday Floridians mired in “Rick’s Recession”. Since Gov. Scott took office in 2008, more than half of Florida’s counties have actually lost jobs.
“Florida ranks 48th in the nation for health coverage, according to the Census Bureau, with two million Floridians uninsured,” said Karen Woodall, Executive Director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy. “It’s time to Awake The State and ensure Florida’s families have access to quality, affordable health care.”
In addition to economic and budgetary issues, Awake The State organizers and activists highlighted several other areas of concern this legislative session:
- Health Care: Florida ranks 48th in the nation in health coverage according to the Census Bureau. Gov. Scott and his legislative allies continue to prevent any attempt to increase affordable, quality health care coverage for all Floridians. Instead, they work to undermine the pro-consumer, pro-patient provisions of the Affordable Care Act and block efforts to expand Medicaid to working Floridians that fall into the coverage gap.
- Environment: Gov. Scott and his legislative allies continue to divert funding intended for land and water conservation, deny climate change, and stand in the way of a fracking ban.
- Education: Florida ranks 41st in the nation in spending per student according to Education Week. Meanwhile, Gov. Scott and his legislative allies continue to underfund our public schools while diverting tax dollars to profit-driven, nontransparent private voucher schools and charter schools.
- Immigration: Anti-immigrant legislators are promoting legislation that would escalate unjust, counterproductive immigration policies that tear families apart. These measures would undermine public safety, our economy and the very principles – diversity, aspiration, inclusion – that define us as Americans.
- Reproductive Rights: Gov. Scott and his legislative allies continue to try to defund Planned Parenthood and further undermine reproductive rights. They’ve even introduced a bill that mandates the state of Florida promote anti-abortion propaganda through “crisis pregnancy centers.” These are nothing more than unregulated fake clinics that seek to lie to Florida women.
“For years this governor and his legislative allies have diverted funding intended for land and water conservation, denied the urgent need to address climate change, and stood in the way of a fracking ban,” said Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters. It’s time to Awake The State and invest in protecting our land and water, and ban fracking across the state.”
“Gov. Scott and his legislative allies continue to starve our public schools while diverting tax dollars to nontransparent private voucher schools and charter schools, said Joanne McCall, President of the Florida Education Association. “It’s time to Awake The State and put our students needs first by investing in quality public schools, not unaccountable, profit-driven voucher and charter schools.”
“We will vigorously oppose efforts by anti-immigrant legislators to impose unjust, counterproductive immigration policies designed to punish communities that protect immigrants and their families from unjust immigration policies,” said Julio Calderon, Organizer for the We Are Florida campaign. “Legislation like House Bill 9 undermines the core principles of diversity and inclusion that define us a nation.”
“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,” said Crishelle Bailey, FAMU student and Planned Parenthood volunteer. “We oppose any legislation that forces Florida taxpayers to fund fake clinics that operate with virtually no oversight and judge, shame, and intentionally try to trick women out of getting the care they are seeking.”
Awake The State started as a Facebook page that quickly grew to thousands strong, resulting in 30 rallies in cities across the state in March of 2011. The Awake The State movement provides a platform for everyday Floridians to make their voices heard and push back against Rick Scott and the legislature’s extreme and out of touch priorities.