Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Tallahassee: Economic Development Legislative Session Wrap-up

The other highlight of Enterprise Florida's Rural Issues Working Group meeting held in Lake City on May 23rd was the legislative session wrap-up presented by Sharon Spratt. Ms. Spratt highlighted the economic development legislation presented during the session and made sense of the plethora of bills, along with their financial implications, that came before the legislature.

Ms. Spratt:

To give you an idea about the session -- overall it was pretty rough... Bruised battered and bloody. I think that sums up the legislative session for the majority of people who were involved. There is just no other way to describe it.

Click here to go to Ms. Spratt's legislative wrap-up.

It was my 10th session -- many folks had job uncertainty. To give you an idea how it was, this year there was a $3.75 billion budget gap on top of last year's $4 billion budget gap and there were no stimulus dollars to fill any of the holes. The first thing that they looked at to save some money to the tune of $1 billion was to have employees contribute 3% to their retirement.
K through 12 funding was down $542 a student, which doesn't include the funding that was used last year to prop it up with stimulus money. Overall it was a $1.4 billion cut to education. University students are being hit as well with some fees being increased from 8 to 15%. Medicaid funding was reduced 5 to 15%.
The eliminated things -- the Department of Community Affairs -- what's left of it, it was shifted different places. I believe DCF had 1400 positions eliminated.
They privatized numerous prisons or shut them down. In Glades - in Hendry County alone there were 700 plus jobs lost. It is an area with a very high poverty rate and one of the highest unemployment rates in the state as well.
Something I've never seen -- I've never seen prayers during committee meetings and they let citizens and constituents pray for them, while testifying at committee meetings.
The lawmakers did understand the magnitude of what was going on and try to let citizens express their feelings and protest, obviously.
With all the negativity, it really did end up for being a very good year for economic development in Florida.

About Sharon Spratt

Ms. Spratt is an Enterprise Florida communications expert. Her business card explains her job this way: Manager, Legislative, Communications & Special Projects.

Ms. Spratt's legislative wrap-up takes the guess work out of what the legislature did at this year's budget session.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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Tallahassee: Economic Development Legislative Session Wrap-up (May 31, 2011)

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