Earlier this month the Florida legislature adjourned without passing a budget. This happened as a result of the state Senate’s demands that Florida expand Medicaid under Obamacare in exchange for a tax reduction package passed by the House. The House didn’t bite and sine die came and went. A special session to resolve their differences convenes on June 1.
In the last 20 years, Florida has been the leader of the nation in bringing in new families, businesses and retirees to the state. Yes, Florida is a beautiful state with amazing weather, but in recent years, it has been Gov. Rick Scott’s wide range of tax cuts that have made the Sunshine State even more appealing. His tax cuts have been both pro-family and pro-business. This provided relief to a wide range of residents.
In Gov. Scott’s first term, the legislature passed 2 billion dollars in tax cuts. They aren’t resting on those laurels, however. Florida has one of the nation’s highest communication-services taxes (CST) on cellphones, satellite TV and nonresidential landline phone services. In launching “Cut My Taxes Week,” this year he announced a proposal to reduce the states CST by a rate of 3.6%. This modest reduction will result in about 470 million dollars in annual savings for Florida taxpayers, who are increasingly relying on new technologies that have driven up the cost of these services.
Before adjourning, the Florida House passed a “No Tax is Safe” plan that included the CST cut but the Senate failed to act on this tax reduction package before they adjourned.
Many in the state Senate have demanded a dramatic expansion of Medicaid instead of spending restraint and tax relief. This new spending program would expand in an unsustainable manner Obamacare’s Medicaid in Florida to a new group of middle class and in many cases childless adults.
This would reverse a trend that Florida has set in recent years. Thanks to Republican health care reforms, Florida has seen an enormous amount of Medicaid savings. Tax payers have saved 118 million annually since a launch of a private program in 2006 and over 1 billion in savings just last year when the program expanded statewide. This program raised the quality of coverage for low income Floridians by transitioning current Medicaid recipients in to a managed-care private program. This is just one of the reasons why Florida is leading the way in 21st century health-care reform.
Demanding an expansion of Obamacare’s Medicaid at the cost of hard working taxpayers doesn’t make sense. If implemented Florida would reverse a positive trend in health care savings and taxpayer relief by bending the cost curve upward for years to come. All of this has occurred at the same time the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has demanded Medicaid expansion in Florida. To cave to the masked demands of the Obama Administration by expanding Medicaid would not benefit taxpayers or current recipients of Medicaid
Decades of research suggest, that states with lower tax burdens grow faster. The Florida House and Gov. Scott’s modest 2015 tax cuts recognize this reality. When the Florida legislature reconvenes next month, the Senate should abandon demands for expansion of Medicaid in exchange for much needed tax relief by reducing the CST tax.