After a year of incremental drops in the state’s unemployment rate, Florida lawmakers came to the Capitol armed with promises to jump start jobs, but they left handcuffed by the stubborn economy.
The 60-day legislative session that ended Friday was largely dominated by small reforms on a few pocketbook proposals. Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led legislature honored their pledge not to raise taxes, an article of faith for them in an election year. But to fill a $2 billion budget gap, they cut $300 million from universities and colleges, $1 billion from state worker pensions, and made another round of deep spending cuts in prisons, health care and social services.
While lawmakers scaled back higher education and social programs, they also delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to private businesses.
In a last-minute compromise, lawmakers also crafted a fraud-reform plan intended to lower premiums for the state’s no-fault auto insurance system, or PIP. In the end, however, they couldn’t agree on including requirements that insurers actually reduce their rates.
Despite the difficult balancing act, the self-proclaimed “jobs governor” was buoyant around midnight Friday that Floridians will see more hiring throughout the economy because of this session. Keep reading.