TALLAHASSEE – Floridian leaders statewide and advocates held a virtual press event the day before Tuesday’s opening of the 2023 Florida Legislative Session, where they called for an end to political interference in Florida’s schools and universities, expanding Medicaid, protecting abortion rights, stronger efforts to safeguard our waterways and to address climate change, and criminal justice reform. And they called out Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders for their corporate-driven agenda that continues to harm Floridians and their families. Speakers unified behind a “People’s Budget” and advocated for a government that works for the people of Florida, rather than big tax-bucking corporations and wealthy campaign donors. They also released this video.
“Our state government works very efficiently, just not for the people of this great state,” said Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida. “Over the past four years, the people of Florida have watched Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature run our state not for the people, but in tandem with wealthy corporations and billionaire donors. Florida has an affordability crisis with skyrocketing rents and property insurance but DeSantis has done nothing except pad the pockets of his corporate donors at our expense.”
Since taking office, Gov. DeSantis and his allies in the Legislature have handed out billions in tax breaks to big corporations and favored businesses, delivered no-bid contracts and multimillion-dollar infrastructure projects to donors, and gutted regulations meant to protect workers and consumers. They have also denied health care to millions, sought to privatize and profiteer off our schools, and allowed corporate influence to run rampant in our elections.
“Ron DeSantis and top lawmakers are protectors of the corporate class, using their government powers to distract and divide everyday Floridians while further enriching the deep-pocketed donors who bankroll their campaigns – with our tax dollars,” said Debbie Soto, a member of Florida Rising. “Rather than working to improve the lives of Florida families, legislative leaders have seized control of independent institutions, from local prosecutors’ offices to public universities, and used the power of the state to not only punish opponents, but to appoint the Governor’s political allies into high-paying taxpayer funded jobs.”
Advocates called for a “People’s Budget” to ensure everyday Floridians have a stronger voice when it comes to allocating public tax dollars, which is the Legislature’s one responsibility every year. They argued for greater investment in state and local budgets, and enhanced funding for critical community needs like housing, health care, education, public safety, and environmental protection.
A people-centered budget contrasts with Gov. DeSantis and his allies’ persistent efforts to hand out even more corporate tax breaks, while doing little to address the state’s housing crisis and invest in affordable housing or protect workers and consumers. “They prefer to pass laws that protect corporate monopolies and deregulate businesses, allowing them to price gouge consumers and stop competition from small businesses,” said Ruth Moreno, Florida For All, Deputy State Director.
Advocates spoke out on a litany of concerns in addition to pocketbook issues like taxes and spending, housing, and affordability. Speakers championed stronger voting rights and defended the freedom for communities to pass laws to address local concerns. They also called for an end to political interference in Florida’s schools and universities, expanding Medicaid, protecting abortion rights, stronger efforts to safeguard our waterways and to address climate change, and criminal justice reform.
A Tallahassee college student named Malik Gary spoke out against the voucher bill. “Private school vouchers harm public school students,” he said. “They increase education costs by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems, one public and one private. The proposal in the Legislature now is estimated to cost $4 billion in year one alone. As a result public schools, which educate the vast majority of students, wind up with less funding and fewer resources.”
“For the 2023 legislative session, we, the people of Florida, believe our elected leaders have a choice. They can choose the people’s agenda or the corporate agenda. The people are watching, and the choice is clear,” concluded Ruth Moreno, Florida For All, Deputy State Director.
For more information, go to: http://peoplesbudgetfl.com/
What: Virtual press conference ahead of the 2023 Legislative Session
When: March 6, 2023, 11:00 a.m.
Where: Register here: https://bit.ly/PeoplesAgendaPress Who: Floridian leaders statewide and advocates