State’s GOP has left families in need: My word
By Geraldine Thompson
This year’s legislative session was another lost chance for the Florida Legislature to expand opportunity for families. Gov. Rick Scott and Tallahassee Republicans made it clear that re-electing the governor was more important than doing what’s right for the middle class.
The most pressing issue facing us is how to expand opportunity to the millions of Floridians struggling to get into the middle class. Some of them were doing well before the recession hit, and now are stuck in jobs that don’t pay the bills. Others are trapped in a cycle of poverty that is generations in the making. Others have immigrated here recently to make a better life.
We need to open the doors of opportunity. Instead, the Republicans kept them closed. The Legislature will end this week with a long list of unfinished business to help Florida’s families.
The Republicans refused to vote on raising the minimum wage, which would have helped more than a million Floridians provide for their families. No one who works full-time should live in poverty, and no parents should struggle to provide food for their children.
Republicans also refused to vote on guaranteeing women receive equal pay for equal work. In Florida, women still earn only 83 cents for every dollar a man makes. Most Floridians support passing equal pay, but their wishes were disregarded.
Again, Scott and the Legislature failed to expand access to health care to more than 1 million Floridians. Refusing billions in federal funds to score political points is a slap in the face to hard-working Floridians who are struggling to afford health care.
Unfortunately, when the Republicans did take action, they moved Florida in the wrong direction.
Rather than invest in public schools, they directed millions of taxpayer dollars to for-profit charter schools. Just as bad, the Republicans are cutting Bright Futures scholarships, limiting access to college for some. This is no way to move Florida forward.
Floridians are doing their best in a tough economy, and they’re working tirelessly to climb the ladder to the middle class. But this legislative session, the Republicans refused to even consider common-sense ideas to expand opportunity and left the business of helping Florida families unfinished.
State Sen. Geraldine Thompson is a Democrat from Orlando.