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FLORIDA

Florida

State Recovery Act Website: http://flarecovery.com/

Florida's Recovery Act website scored 29 out of 100 possible points (ranking 35th) on Good Jobs First's updated 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus (Again). The state earned points for showing ARRA spending by narrow categories, and recipient jobs data.

For detailed scoring information, see the Florida appendix of Show Us the Stimulus (Again).

Coordination & Oversight

Decision-making processes on specific projects and contracts are left to state agencies and local governments after Florida distributes the funds. The Governor's Office of Economic Recovery, created to manage stimulus funds, is responsible for identification of all stimulus funds for which Florida might be eligible, "acceleration" of use of the funds to ensure they move into the economy quickly, facilitating communication between and among state agencies and the federal government, reporting to the Florida legislature and the public on use of the funds and their impacts, tracking job creation and retention linked to stimulus funds, and enforcement of legal uses of the funds.

The Office is headed by Don Winstead, Special Advisor to the Governor for the Implementation of the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Winstead works in coordination with the Governor's Federal Stimulus Working Group and is responsible for overseeing and tracking the distribution of Florida's federal stimulus dollars and public reporting. He continues to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families and has background in social work and low-income communities.

Florida is one of 16 states being monitored by the Government Accountability Office to promote transparency and accountability in stimulus spending. As part of the review process, GAO inspectors will issue bimonthly reports on how ARRA funds are being used at the state and local level.

Policy Debates

In May, Florida passed a $66.5 billion state budget which incorporated $2 billion in increased taxes and fees, an 8% tuition increase, drastic spending cuts, and $5.6 billion in federal stimulus money. Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, has expressed no reluctance to accept stimulus money, unlike some of his southern neighbors, but he faced significant opposition from the state's Republican-controlled legislature. Crist's position on the stimulus has significantly weakened his popularity within his own party and will surely impact his next campaign for the role of U.S. Senator.

The state's education system has been far and away the most threatened public service.  Parents, teachers and students staged rallies protesting the severe cuts to education made by the state.  Parent-teacher groups proposed increasing sales and property taxes to fill the budget hole.  However, the final budget kept K-12 spending near the current level with a significant influx of federal stimulus funds.  In awarding the funds, the U.S. Department of Education waived the ARRA requirement that the state maintain education funding levels at the 2006 level, because the state had already passed such cuts.

Also relevant to controversy around the state education system is the fact that the state's higher education institutions have no say in decisions about stimulus spending.  Universities and community colleges are laying off workers and reducing courses and degree offerings to cope with the budget crisis.

Gov. Crist supported accepting the unemployment insurance funds provided by the Recovery Act, but was defeated when the House and Senate failed to pass SB 516 and H 1333, the proposed unemployment insurance modernization legislation.  As a result, Florida will reject $443 million that could have been used to replenish the state's diminishing unemployment insurance trust fund.

Last updated on: 18 March, 2010

Quick Facts

Population:
18,328,340

Median Household Income:
$47,804

Unemployment Rate:
10.7%

Poverty Rate:
12.1%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$11.4 billion

Resources

Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy :

State Budget Bolstered by Temporary Federal Stimulus Funds and Still Fails to Meet Needs, May 2009; online here.

Setting the Record Straight about Stimulus Funding for Unemployment Insurance in Florida, April 15, 2009; online here.

What the Federal Stimulus Means for Florida; online here.

Funding for Unemployment Compensation Program: Florida Should Take It, Not Leave It, March 2009; online here.

Food Stamp Increases Begin Flowing to Floridians, Providing Boost to Economy, March 31, 2009; online here.

Research Institute on Social & Economic Policy:

Securing Florida's Future: Job Loss in the Recession and Job Creation for a Sustainable Economy, June 2009; online here.

RISEP, Miami Workers Center, and Kirwan Institute:

Beyond the Quick Fix: ARRA Contracting, Jobs, and Building a Fair Recovery for Florida, January 2010; online here.

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