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Florida Legislators Hard at Work for Big Business

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Stephanie Timmons
Stephanie Timmons

It seems that these days most of us think our politicians really don't do much. Sure, there are fancy dinners and expensive per plate fundraisers, but that's about it. But if you look at the Florida Legislature, that's far from the truth. Oh, they were busy... but busy for whom? Let's see, where do we start. They tried to privatize all the prisons north of Orlando, which would have thrown hundreds of prison guards into our already over-saturated unemployment sector. Because of their grave concern for children, a tax break was given to a small private school on Fisher Island. What the heck, it only resides in one of the richest neighborhoods in the country. Then there was the intense debate/rap-off of Jay-Z's "99 Problems." That took lots of work and preparation. Finally, they were able to sneak in almost $800 million in tax cuts to businesses and corporations two days before the session ended. Oh yeah, our state politicians worked really hard for the people... the people that lobby for the biggest corporations in the state.

While one of the nation's best hospitals, Jackson Health Systems, prepares to lay off over a thousand employees to save nearly $60 million, more than twice that amount was spent lobbying state politicians for corporations to catch even more breaks. So at best, Miami residents can thank state politicians for even less access to our only public hospital and more perks for special interests. While we the people, the non-corporations in this case, are stuck hoping and praying that our state politicians are representing our interests, they're really looking out for big business.

So what we're left with are politicians that pretend they can't work together unless they are working for our states powerful business lobby. Just take a look at the tax breaks that passed. In the final 48 hours of the legislative session, State Sen. Ellen Bogdanoff (R - Fort Lauderdale) managed to sneak the business lobby's wish-list of tax breaks as an amendment to a relatively harmless, if not utterly useless, bill meant to re-name "unemployment compensation" to "reemployment assistance." It passed with little debate or discussion. If there was a discussion, someone could have brought up how the state's chief economist, Amy Baker, feared that an earlier bill with the same provisions could worsen the state's already beleaguered economy.

In the end, none of the pesky details seemed to matter. Lobbyists prowling around the state Capitol were way too excited to see these tax cuts pass to bother explaining how they would actually create any jobs or fix what is really wrong with our economy. In the words of Florida House Majority Leader, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, to the Miami Herald, "we want to throw [businesses] a lifeline."

Well, that's nice! But who's throwing us, the people, a lifeline that saves the jobs of hard-working people at Jackson, or even better, all of our friends and neighbors that are growing tired of looking for work that doesn't exist? Who is throwing a lifeline to people, like Angela Samuels, who has spent her life taking care of and fighting for those who aren't able to do it for themselves? She's now relegated to selling chicken and ribs out of her foreclosed Liberty City home just to stay alive. Too bad none of us have lobbyists.

However bleak the situation, the time for change is now! If our politicians want to violate their oath to the people and work for big business, then let's vote them out so that they can apply for jobs that don't exist with those same big, greedy companies for whom they've worked so hard. Elections are coming up and it is the one time we can beat the lobbyists. So let us let our politicians know that come November, no lobbyist in the state can save their jobs. 1Miami will continue to mobilize residents for policies that advance compassion and commonsense and oppose greed.