Florida Policy Institute (FPI) is urging Governor Ron DeSantis to earmark revenue expected from the proposed gaming compact for investment in public services.
Representing several small organizations, the nonprofit group issued a letter to DeSantis on Wednesday calling on state leaders to invest dollars generated from the deal into “the building blocks for strong communities.”
“We’re concerned that dollars generated from the new gaming compact could be spent on yet another business tax cut,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of FPI. “That’s what happened with SB 50, the online sales tax bill — the legislation was amended to redirect revenue that should have gone back to communities into the coffers of corporations. We hope state leaders commit to using any future gaming compact revenue for improving the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.”
The 30-year compact, reached by the Florida House and Senate during this week’s special session, is expected to generate at least $2.5 billion over the next five fiscal years, according to the Florida Revenue Estimating Conference.
The letter includes several ways in which the new revenue could be used to bolster Florida’s long-term recovery, including investments in public education, Florida’s safety net, affordable housing, and other areas of the budget that will bolster the state’s long-term economic health.
A full breakdown of investments include:
Providing an alternate funding source for Florida’s clerks of court that does not exact inequitable fees on low-income Floridians (estimated $400 million);
Replenishing state and local housing trust funds with the addition of nonrecurring funds to address Florida’s affordable housing crisis ($225 million);
Fully funding Florida’s universal Pre-K system to provide six hours of education instead of the current three hours (estimated $400 million);
Increasing by 50 percent the number of families receiving child care assistance through the School Readiness program (estimated $500 million);
Permanently supporting an increase to Florida’s teacher pay ($500 million);
Implementing a state Earned Income Tax Credit or Working Families Tax Rebate ($500 million);
Increasing TANF cash assistance, and instituting meaningful supports for safety net participants ($100 million); and
Reducing waitlists for home- and community-based services with priority given to high-needs individuals ($438 million).
“The dollars generated from this compact present an important opportunity for lawmakers to boost those areas of the budget that will help Floridians recover from the pandemic,” added Knight.
In addition to FPI, the letter’s signees include: Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Alliance for Public Schools, Broward for Progress, Catalyst Miami, Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Florida Voices for Health, League of Women Voters of Florida, Lupus and Allied Diseases Association Inc., National Association of Social Workers – Florida Chapter, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, SEIU FPSU, State Voices Florida, The Common Ground Project, and UnidosUS.