ORLANDO, Fla. - With Gov. Rick Scott's approval rating sliding 7 points this month to a new personal low of 26%, Scott released his 2012-13 budget proposal, which would makes cuts to Medicaid, increases money to education, and gives more corporate hand outs to Florida businesses.
Scott's severest cuts ($1.8 billion) in the budget are directed at Medicaid, the program that is the health care safety net for the most needy in our communities.
Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, an organization that represents public and teaching hospitals, said in a statement, "The largest safety net provider in Florida, Jackson Health System, says the proposed cuts will potentially impact the continued delivery of programs across the entire continuum of care, from children's services to long-term care.
"Jackson is already struggling to treat all of the uncompensated and charity care cases it receives due to declining sources of public revenue available. Should the proposed cuts pass, the impact to the hospital would be so great that Jackson would be forced to limit care to those unfunded or underfunded patients it currently serves."
The governor's proposed increase in funding to Florida's K-12 adds up to nearly $1 billion - a $100 increase per student. While many Florida school boards and teachers welcome the $1 billion boost to education, the budget falls short of making real progress.
According to News Service of Florida, many of Florida's Democratic legislators agreed that the increase in spending is good, but that the 2011 education budget was slashed by $1.3 billion. Meaning that with the proposed budgets increase in education funding, Florida's education system still won't be back to the levels in was before Scott took office. This puts per-student spending that peaked at close to $7,100 per child in 2007-2008, to the current year's spending level of $6,262.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Democratic state Sen. Nan Rich said, "Pitting one critical priority against another is not the solution Floridians expect from the leader of the fourth-largest state in the nation. School books-versus-seniors or teachers-versus-public safety should not be among the options."
At a time when many Florida families are struggling with unemployment, Scott's budget also calls for the elimination of nearly 4,500 state jobs - mostly from the state's prison system.
All this while the governor is expected to pass another reduction of the corporate income tax, which brings $1.8 billion into the state.