Gov. Rick Scott will sign into law today a $69.7 billion state budget for 2011-12 that he boasts is all about creating jobs and reducing Florida's high unemployment. In fact, it is a job-killing budget that threatens the state's anemic recovery and makes the state less attractive to new residents and businesses. The governor and the Legislature are starving the state instead of investing in it. Let us count the ways they are undermining Florida's economy:
1 State workers Positions in prisons, social services and other areas have been slashed. Scott says he's only interested in private sector jobs. State employees buy houses, cars and appliances, too — even if they have not had raises in five years. Estimated Jobs lost: 4,500.
2 Public schools Spending will drop by $542 per student, or 8 percent. School districts are sending out lay-off notices to thousands of teachers, including 1,400 in Broward and 1,100 in Pinellas. Some of those could keep their jobs. But Pasco schools could eliminate 470 overall positions and Pinellas could cut 400 positions. School districts are the largest employers in many counties. Estimated jobs lost: THOUSANDS.
3 Universities Operating expenses have been cut at the 11 public universities by $140 million, or 4 percent. The University of Florida alone loses $54 million in state money, although some of that will be recovered with an expected 15 percent tuition increase. Florida State University expects to cut 50 faculty members. States that starve higher education cannot attract high-paying new jobs. Estimated jobs lost: Undetermined.
4 Transportation Another $150 million will be transferred from the transportation trust fund to pay for other government services. That means fewer roads will be built, and fewer private construction workers will have jobs. Estimated jobs lost: 8,400.
5 Everglades Money earmarked for restoration has been cut from $200 million in 2008 to a token $30 million in this budget. The water management district budgets have been cut another 25 percent. Over decades, Everglades projects are to create 22,000 jobs directly related to construction and hundreds of thousands of jobs in tourism, commercial fishing and other areas. Estimated jobs lost: hUNDREDS.
6 Health care Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals will be cut by 12 percent, or $510.5 million, a decline in state and federal funding that is expected to require hospitals across the state to cut jobs, particularly those such as All Children's in St. Petersburg and Tampa General that serve a high volume of Medicaid patients. All Children's is expecting at least $6 million less in Medicaid funding; Tampa General $19 million. Estimated jobs lost: Undetermined.
* We would mention the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail project, which would have created 6,200 jobs in 2011 but was killed when Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal money to pay for it. But that would be piling on.