What if Democrats ran the Florida House of Representatives?
It would mean support for a new state budget that would provide:
–a 13 percent raise for school teachers.
–Expanding Medicaid to cover an additional 700,000 Floridians.
–full funding for affordable-housing programs.
–a tax rebate in the range of $500 for working families with low or moderate income.
–$300 million for the state’s major environmental land-buying program.
–a $1,000 raise for state workers.
That’s according to the “New Sunshine Deal” spending plan outlined by House Democrats on Wednesday. It is their counter to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $91.3 billion budget proposal for 2019-20.
“Over the last 20 years, we have seen our state’s budget double, while at the same time leaving hard-working Floridians in the shadows,” said House Democratic leader Rep. Kionne McGhee, a Miami lawmaker.
McGhee said the Democrat’s budget plan would provide “relief” and “reform” for Floridians.
But while the proposal offers the Democrats a chance to raise the visibility of their issues, it is not likely to pass in a chamber where Republicans hold a 71-46 edge in the membership.
The Democrats’ budget plan is built on $1.8 billion in tax increases, including a proposal to modify the state’s corporate income tax that would generate an additional $1.2 billion. It also raises $218 million by closing sales tax “loopholes.” And it would expand the state’s ability to collect taxes on internet sales under a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling for another $426 million.
But McGhee and other Democrats will have a chance to advance some of their spending proposals in the form of separate bills and amendments to other legislation.
For instance, McGhee has a bill (HB 1411) that would create a state tax rebate program for low- to moderate-income working families. If the families meet the eligibility requirements of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit program, they would qualify for a state rebate in the range of $500 per year, he said.
The Democrats are opposed to DeSantis’ $423 million plan to offer annual bonuses of more than $9,000 to about 45,000 teachers.
Instead, the Democrats’ budget proposal would include $747.5 million in funding that would allow a 13 percent raise for all of the state’s public-school teachers, although the actual amount of the raises would be subject to approval by the local school boards.