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Roger Caldwell

Is Florida’s Black Economy Returning to Pre-Recession Days?

Now that the State of Florida’s budget has been passed for this cycle, the state economists are predicting what is going to happen in next year’s budget. With actual revenue collections exceeding expectations, the state General Revenue (GR) Estimating Conference has increased its forecast. State economists predict lawmakers will have $657.5 million more than previously anticipated for the state’s next budget. “Florida’s economy is returning to its pre-recession days, and the available funds for state budget reflect that strength. Tourism is very strong and more Floridians are able to find jobs and they are spending money throughout the state” says Dominic Calabro, President and CEO of Florida Tax Watch. Based on the state economists, our lawmakers will have more cash to spend because the amount appropriated to the Legislature has increased with actual revenue collection. This means that there will be more funding available for education, human services, public safety, and correction. Some economists are predicting that the available increased funding may reach $1.6 billion. As a Black political watchdog and pundit, I wonder how much of these financial predictions are credible, factual, and truthful. During the last Florida Legislature session, state economists predicted that there would be a billion dollar surplus, but it took a special session to pass a budget. Somehow, the surplus funds were needed to balance the budget, and the state needed additional money from the federal government. Somehow state economists were wrong in their forecast, or maybe the people in power are not telling the truth. Floridians are sick of Republicans telling residents how great the state is doing, but are still struggling to pay bills. Florida Tax Watch is claiming that Florida’s economy has returned to its pre-recession days, but the Florida Black economy has definitely not recovered from the recession. For Black men in Florida’s inner cities, the unemployment rate is still around 45%, and there are no state programs to relieve the suffering. There were no jobs for Black youth this summer, even though many city and county agencies said they had money available. The African American community in Florida is suffering, and the Florida Republican Legislature and governor does not care. The reason the Republicans in Florida didn’t care about the condition of the Black community is because they don’t need our vote to remain or get into office. As long as the Black vote in Florida is not important or significant, the Republicans in power will not change their policies. As the Florida budget increases each year, state jobs, social agencies, and community programs are cut from the budget. These agencies and programs deliver services to the poor, seniors, children, youth, and the sick. There is a disconnect with our leaders in Florida with the poor and middle class. There is still no economic recovery in Florida for the Black community. It is time for the Black community to put together an economic agenda and force our governor to spend some of the surplus revenue in programs to benefit the Black community. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, and it’s time for the Black community to start making some noise.

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