Last week Governor Rick Scott released his budget proposal for the state. Called the 7-7-7 plan, it proposes acceleration in the total job growth in Florida, along with an increase in the number of new business start-ups and growing wages and salaries. Of course these promises seem encouraging, but how will they be implemented?
The 7-7-7 plan is a seven step economic program that is aimed at making Florida the job creation model for the nation over a seven year period.
The state is in desperate need of an economic boost. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, as of Jan. 25, Florida has an unemployment rate of 12 percent, which is one of the highest in the nation and just shy of tying a historic high of 12.3 percent. High property taxes are a major problem for millions of Floridians as their homes enter foreclosure as a result of depleted property values, making it difficult for homeowners to cover the expensive mortgages.
Healthcare coverage is another issue as well as educational funding for Florida’s schools and universities.
The governor’s strategy is outlined on letsgettowork.state.fl.us. The first step uses transparent outcome based budgets for accountability budgeting. Which is basically a budget focused on services instead of other departments designed to show taxpayers exactly where their money is being spent. The plan is to have the state and local government expenditure burden to at least 15 percent, the level it was in 2004.
The second step is reducing government spending. By reforming the pension, justice and Medicaid departments, the cost of government can be reduced by eight percent, saving almost $1 billion in the state workforce. As far as healthcare, Medicaid recipients would be given consumer directed care saving $4 billion, and saving taxpayers $1.8 billion.
The third step promises regulatory reform. The Pacific research institute ranked Florida 45th worst in the nation with its regulatory framework. Therefore, the scheme is to make unemployment benefits more affordable and limit lawsuits with a tort reform.
In the fourth step, job growth and retention are the areas of concern. Partnerships with public and private businesses, including universities, would be used to restructure the economy and to eliminate competition with current systems. There will be funds for different economic developments such as a possible high-speed rail system. This plan allows businesses of all sorts to expand in their own ways without legal prohibitions.
Unfortunately, the world class education plan under step five is lackluster with many gaps in between. It broadly deals with education by expanding the Opportunity Scholarship program and access to high performing charter schools. Where is the funding for Florida’s public schools and Universities? The plan fails to answer the financial burdens of many programs within our schools. Step six aims towards reducing property taxes by $1.1 billion. The average homeowner would save $100.
In the final plan, eliminating the corporate income tax over seven years would put money back into taxpayer pockets. From 2011 to 2012 the CIT rate would decrease by 5.5 percent changing from $2,036.70 to $1,577.88.
Overall, the governor’s blueprint covers the basic necessities needed for Florida’s economic improvement.
However, more specific details are needed to understand how the people would be affected, and more attention should go towards Florida’s future in education.