We gave away our money again?By Steve Estes
Now that the state Legislative session has ended, maybe, possibly, for now at least, it’s plain to see that only ideology drives our current majority.
There is little common sense amongst our majority leadership else why do we find such frivolous items even on the table?
While other states grappled with ways to embrace tens of millions in federal money, federal money partially generated by our own taxpayers, to expand Medicaid to the working poor and set up health insurance exchanges, we had a crop of Legislators that actually spent time on bills to further restrict the rights of women to make their own choices in their health care (also known in politi-speak as ways to restrict or ban abortions despite Roe v Wade being the prevailing law of the land).
We passed a bill that prohibits the dying (with color) of animals. That must have been a robust debate.
We did see the passage of bills that eliminated, maybe, Florida’s national shame in voting restrictions by returning early voting days and locations, at least for the mid-term elections, which the majority party believes it is going to win handily, with the knowledge of course that come next Presidential cycle, the majority can just restrict the rights of voters again.
On the fifth try, our majority leadership finally decided that people dying in automobile crashes because they are texting on their cell phones is probably a bad idea, so they made it a secondary offense. Wanton death has always been a primary offense in our book.
Oh, and of course we saw the further elimination of corporate taxes so that the cash-strapped corporations can pay more bonuses to their top level executives while keeping low wages for the rank-and-file all the while racking up record profits that the tax cut will simply add to in the long run.
But what our majority leadership couldn’t do, no couldn’t is the wrong word—wouldn’t do—is deal with the ever increasing need to expand health care coverage to the working poor.
Florida is one of the leaders in the nation in an uninsured and underinsured workforce. Since the majority of the state’s employment is related to the hospitality industry, since our leading economic engine is, and will remain for the foreseeable future, tourism (and we all know those jobs pay so much more than a living wage) and the tourism industry is so well known for its commitment to its rank-and-file employees and the fabulous benefits paid to those employees, health care is a luxury unaffordable.
And for us to even think that health care is a luxury says a lot about the thought processes of a group of people who live for the right to be reelected at all costs, and the working poor who vote for them.
But what really galls us is the attitude amongst our elected majority leadership that they’re taking a stand on someone’s tax dollars by refusing to do something every thinking brain in the state believes is in the best interests of the state and giving back money earmarked to aid our working poor.
We’re not sure if it’s just stupidity, or a lack of the ability to actually read and process information that makes it impossible for our majority leadership to understand that all we’ve done is give away our tax dollars. We have refused to allow the taxes paid by our state, by our wealthy and working poor, to come back to our state in the form of services for the people of this state.
We haven’t taken a stand on tax dollars. All we’ve done is ensure that those tax dollars went to some other state whose working poor will enjoy the benefits we gratuitously passed on.
We weren’t talking about giving free health care to non-working souls. We were talking about expanding Medicaid to the working poor, to the partially disabled—in short to the workforce that our captains of industry rely on for record-breaking corporate profits and sometimes obscene personal bonuses.
And as long as that mentality remains on display in Tallahassee, the rest of the country will continue to avoid Florida like a mosquito-infested hovel. Industries looking to locate here will look at our track record of giving away benefits for our people and then look elsewhere for the money from the feds to help them make it over the hump to record profits and obscene personal bonuses.
Bonehead play. No other way to put it. Bonehead play.