Florida communities face drastic budget cuts to education, health services due to COVID-19

Provided by Biden for President.-

The current economic and public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is severely affecting state budgets, including in Florida, which faces a budget deficit of more than $ 8 billion. This deficit will lead to drastic budget cuts – up to 19.5% according to one analysis, and potentially much higher according to other analyzes – that will devastate Florida’s working families and communities. If spread evenly across the state’s budget, this would lead to devastating cuts to the state’s health care and education systems, as well as local budgets for firefighters, police, and other immediate response personnel.
 
President Trump and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell could take decisive action to stop these cuts. But instead they refuse to provide additional funds to state and local governments for these vital services, including education, fire, police and other immediate response personnel.
 
Trump’s failure to lead at the federal level and DeSantis’ failure to follow the advice of public health experts have exacerbated the economic and public health crisis in Florida. Joe Biden, on the other hand, has continued to show leadership during the crisis and has presented various plans on how to manage public health and the economic consequences.
 
Assuming a 19.5% budget cut is spread evenly across all Florida departments and programs, Florida families and communities could see:
 
A drastic cut to the K-12 education system:
Deep cuts to Florida’s K-12 education system will further harm a system that already receives less funding than it needs. Already, the average teacher salary in Florida ranks 46th in the country, and its spending per student remains well below pre-recession levels in 2008.
 
Florida will have to cut up to $ 1.54 billion to the K-12 budget, even taking into account CARES funds, which means that DeSantis will be forced to choose between cuts like the following:
• Reduce all full-time teacher salaries to $ 8,603, or nearly 18% of the average teacher salary in Florida.
• Reduce annual K-12 student spending by up to $ 538, or about 7% of state spending per student.
 
A drastic cut in Pre-K:
Budget cuts to the state’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program will devastate an underfunded system and currently ranks 42nd out of 43 programs nationwide in per-student spending. Nearly eighty percent of the currently eligible four-year-olds use the program, and almost 175,000 children currently enjoy the benefits of VPK.
 
Florida will have to make cuts of up to $ 78 million to VPK’s budget, which means that DeSantis will be forced to choose between cuts like the following:
• Withdraw up to 32,000 eligible children from the program.
• Reduce funds per student for all students by up to $ 473.
 
A drastic cut to the budget of health services:
Governments should invest in financing health services during a global pandemic, not reduce them. Florida’s Medicaid system, which includes 1 in 9 Florida residents under the age of 65, will see devastating cuts that will seriously affect seniors, people with disabilities, and health care workers and providers.
 
Florida will have to make cuts of up to $ 1.65 billion to the Medicaid budget, which means that DeSantis will be forced to choose between cuts like the following:
• Reduce optional benefits by up to $ 1.65 billion, eliminating funds for home and community-based services (HCBS). A cut to HCBS will endanger seniors and people with disabilities in Florida, groups highly threatened by COVID-19.
• Reduce payments to Medicaid providers by up to $ 1.65 billion, including payments to doctors, hospitals that are part of the safety net, mental health centers, and / or nursing homes.
 
A drastic cut to public health:
Florida’s public health system is under attack and cannot afford more cuts. The state has cut nearly a quarter of Health Department jobs in the past decade, and its epidemiologists earn on average less than those in other major states.
Florida will have to cut up to $ 600 million to the Health Department budget, which could threaten funds for services such as treatment for

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