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Democratic Reps. Sharon Pritchett, Cynthia Stafford and Barbara Watson call for a better state budget to meet Florida’s education and health care needs

13A04 18 13 CMYK1 Democratic Reps. Sharon Pritchett, Cynthia Stafford and Barbara Watson call for a better state budget to meet Florida’s education and health care needs

Democratic Reps.

Democratic Reps. Sharon Pritchett, Cynthia Stafford and Barbara Watson call for a better state budget to meet Florida’s education and health care needs

By Mark Hollis

     TALLAHASSEE, FL – Representatives Sharon Pritchett (D-Miami Gardens), Barbara Watson (D-Miami) and Cynthia Stafford (D-Miami) issued the following joint statement regarding their vote in opposition to the Florida House version of the state General Appropriations Act:

    “As Democratic state representatives from Miami, we proudly stand strong with President Obama in favor of health care access to more than one million Floridians and in opposition to the state budget developed by House leaders that fails to meet the needs of Floridians.

    “On Friday, without regrets, we voted against the Republican leadership state budget because it fails to adequately expand health coverage to more than one million working families and individuals across Florida and it doesn’t meet our expectations for pay raises for Florida’s teachers and other public servants.

    “We strongly believe that the House Republican leadership could, if willing, expand health coverage by relying on available federal funds under the Affordable Care Act but has instead stubbornly chosen against doing so. We think this is wrong. Also of concern to us is the manner in which the proposed budget handles pay raises for state workers. Before being amended, an earlier version of the proposed budget would have included a $1,400 raise for all state workers. However, the final budget offered by the House leadership reduces the raise to $1,000, with a $400 merit-based bonus that some workers will likely not attain. As we see it, the House version of the state budget not only doesn’t include health care expansion but it also pits raises for teachers and state workers against the priority of health coverage for working Floridians. We believe this false choice is disingenuous and unfair.

    “Under this same budget, Floridians’ taxes and insurance premiums also could escalate. Floridians without health insurance will continue to go to emergency rooms for primary care. We also think it’s important to remember that Florida is a donor state that pays more in taxes than it receives back in services. Floridians’ tax dollars will go somewhere else if this states does not accept the billions of dollars available to expand health coverage. It is irresponsible to send Florida’s tax dollars to other states when those monies are desperately needed for services here.

    “As always, we stand with our teachers and state workers now. Our advocacy for them has not wavered. And we remain hopeful that as the Florida House and Senate meet to discuss the budget in conference talks, the final state budget will be one that provides true raises for teachers and state workers and expands health coverage to more than one million Floridians, which would be a budget that we would hope to support.”

 

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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