Policy experts and advocates in Tallahassee sought to “Awake The State” on the opening day of the 2016 legislative session as a counterpoint to Gov. Rick Scott and his allies’ extremist agenda that rewards their corporate backers while ignoring the needs of everyday Floridians.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2016
Contact: Damien Filer / 850-212-1858 / Damien@ProgressFlorida.org
TALLAHASSEE– Policy experts and advocates in Tallahassee sought to “Awake The State” on the opening day of the 2016 legislative session as a counterpoint to Gov. Rick Scott and his allies’ extremist agenda that rewards their corporate backers while ignoring the needs of everyday Floridians. The Tallahassee event was part of a series of statewide actions and events promoting a different agenda: a Florida that works for all Floridians.
Awake The State organizers and activists are focusing their efforts on key policy areas this legislative session:
- Expand Health Care: Closing the health care coverage gap through the expansion of Medicaid and providing coverage for nearly 600,000 hardworking Floridians.
- Living Wage: Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour so Floridians who work full time don’t have to live in poverty.
- Fracking: Promoting a statewide ban on fracking to protect our land and water.
- Budget: Opposing Gov. Rick Scott’s budget, particularly his corporate tax giveaways at the expense of critical needs like public education and mental health.
- Immigration: Halting the latest round of anti-immigrant legislation.
- Women’s Health: Stopping attacks on women’s health and reproductive justice.
“Gov. Scott and his legislative allies have little interest in a Florida that works for all Floridians. They’re too busy doing the bidding of their wealthy corporate contributors, and political pandering,” said Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director, Progress Florida. “But they’re not the ones we’ll be talking to on the opening day of legislative session. We’re urging everyday Floridians to pay attention, get engaged, and hold their elected officials’ feet to the fire when they fail to act in the public interest,” he added.
“We must close Florida’s coverage gap,” said Karen Woodall, Executive Director, Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy. “Many of the workers caught in the gap are in occupations that are the backbone of our tourism economy, such as cooks, cashiers, clerks, and housekeeping staff in our restaurants and hotels. These hardworking Floridians deserve the security of knowing they can see a doctor when they need to, without facing the fear of enormous medical bills.”
“Studies rank Florida as having one of the highest rates of income inequality in the country, with many workers earning less than a living wage,” said Rich Templin, Legislative & Political Director, Florida AFL-CIO. “We’re advocating to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour so hardworking Floridians are able to pay for basics like food and rent, provide for their families, and contribute to their local economy.”
“This Legislature’s relentless attacks on women’s access to reproductive health must stop,” said Missy Wesolowski, Director of Governmental Affairs, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “If anti-women’s health opponents were serious about reducing the number of abortions they would work with Planned Parenthood and other groups to provide education and access to contraception.”
“It’s shameful to see some legislators in Florida falling for the ‘Trump Effect’ and think that immigrants can be used as scapegoats right before the Presidential primaries just for political gain,” said Francesca Menes, Policy and Advocacy Director, Florida Immigrant Coalition. “Anti-immigrant and anti-family politics and policies are not a winning strategy in a state like Florida where a growing majority of Latino, Immigrant and African-American voters hold the keys to power and the White House.”
As in years past, Awake The State opposes Gov. Rick Scott’s flawed budget priorities, which include more corporate tax giveaways at the expense of critical needs like public education and mental health.
Awake The State is also promoting a statewide ban on fracking to protect our drinking water, our communities and our economy. “Florida is the Sunshine State, and we should be working to set strong renewable energy standards and invest in the future – not gambling with dirty and dangerous fracking,” said Kim Ross of Rethink Energy Florida.
Awake The State started as a Facebook page that quickly grew to thousands strong, resulting in 30 rallies in cities across the state in March of 2011. The Awake The State movement provides a platform for everyday Floridians to make their voices heard and push back against Rick Scott and the Tea Party-controlled legislature’s extreme and out of touch priorities.