Labor rally, March 8, 2012; Pic by Ashley Lopez

Hundreds of workers from labor groups across the state held a rally at the Florida Capitol today to protest budget cuts in the $70 billion state budget set to be voted on tomorrow.

Groups traveled from as far as Miami to protest proposed cuts to health care and higher education.

After rallying in the rotunda between both state House and Senate chambers this afternoon, protesters marched to the front of the Capitol.

Labor rally, March 8, 2012; Pic by Ashley Lopez

A labor group representing nurses across the state said they were protesting proposed cuts to assisted living facilities, among other cuts to health care in the state. The state is currently preparing to make deeper cuts to Florida’s Medicaid program, a move that has drawn fire from health care advocates.

 

Many protesters also spoke out against proposed cuts to hospitals serving low-income patients.

Gina Massillon, who traveled with a large delegation from Miami, said that cuts to Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals (like Jackson Hospital in Miami) would prove detrimental to many Floridians.

Massillon said that her last visit to Jackson, a public hospital, resulted in a bill that she simply could not afford. ”They don’t care about me,” she said.

Critics of the state’s plan to cut $304 million from reimbursements to hospitals that treat the poor say it would severely affect health care for poor children, pregnant women and disabled adults in hospitals across the state.

Labor groups all over the country have long criticized the Legislature for continually cutting state spending while refusing to raise other forms of revenue.

Rodelio Coneza, who also traveled from Miami with a group called 1Miami, said that “everyone needs to start paying their fair share” because the cuts to public programs have been unfair to the poorest Floridians.

“[Florida] is the worst state for that,” he said. “It’s a shame.”

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