Democrats from the Florida House and Senate sent a letter to Florida’s Congressional Delegation requesting that federal COVID-19 relief legislation include both additional state fiscal relief and more flexibility for current funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
“As state legislators, we are committed to ensuring the health and well-being of all Floridians which is why we are seeking a bipartisan commitment from our Congressional delegation to secure flexible federal relief funds for our state,” said State Representative Anna Eskamani. “Florida’s economy has been hit hard by COVID19, and what I don’t want is our budget being balanced on the backs of working people.”
To date, Florida’s response has required a significant commitment of state resources at a time when sales tax revenues have fallen dramatically due to the economic shutdown. The exact amount of revenue losses that Florida will incur due to the coronavirus crisis is not yet known, but it is likely to be significant. The full letter is attached.
“Florida’s constitution requires a balanced budget each year, regardless of a recession,” Representative Tracie Davis stated. “In the absence of additional federal aid, this will leave us with a limited and difficult set of options in how we balance the budget, putting affordable housing, teacher pay, and the environment at risk. We can prevent all of that with flexible federal relief.”
The current constraints on the Coronavirus Relief Fund severely limit its effectiveness and fail to help prevent deep state budget cuts which could impact important programs and initiatives like affordable housing expansion and teacher salary increases.
“The majority of Florida’s tax revenue comes from sales tax and tourism, so we’ve already taken a huge financial hit due to coronavirus-related shutdowns and will continue to do so,” Representative Adam Hattersley added. “We desperately need additional funds for things like protecting affordable housing, and paying our teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants—all of whom have stepped up and put in overtime to help serve our communities throughout this crisis.”
“I represent a city with one of the highest rates of confirmed COVID -19 cases in South Florida,” said Representative Cindy Polo. “Every day, my constituents have to both struggle with this painful disease, and fight just to make it to the end of the month because of our state’s broken unemployment system. We need the federal government to act now and step up to protect Americans from the impacts of this unexpected pandemic. Failing to receive a heavy influx of additional federal dollars will send our economy into a tailspin for years to come, directly impacting hard-working Floridians and essential government services.”