Economists tell the Public News Service that austere budget cuts in states such as Florida are “a big part of why the economy is back at risk.”
Florida is among a long list of states that significantly slashed its state budget. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, out of the “47 states with newly enacted budgets, 38 or more states are making deep, identifiable cuts in K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key areas in their budgets for fiscal year 2012.” Florida was used many times as an example of a state that enacted “unnecessarily harmful” budget cuts.
The report also finds that the services hardest hit by state cuts have been education and health care.
Florida’s state health agency, in particular, took a massive hit this past year. In total, Florida’s Department of Health saw a $55.6 million budget reduction during the past legislative session. As a result, the Florida Department of Health eliminated 229 full-time job positions — 172 of those positions were from county health departments.
Coupled with the cuts to education that have resulted in mass teacher layoffs, the Public News Service reports that states are risking another recession.
Last month’s national job figures show 17,000 jobs were created by private businesses, but they were offset by 17,000 public employee lay-offs. Chad Stone, chief economist with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says the trend of state and local governments cutting back mostly hits public education. He says a big part of why the economy is back at risk is teacher layoffs as federal stimulus money runs out.
“We’ve seen increasing losses in jobs at the state and local government level, even as overall job creation has turned positive and the private sector is creating jobs.”
Florida has an unemployment rate of 1.7 percent above the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Republicans in Congress have said cutting the deficit would spark job growth, but Stone says the opposite has happened. He calls it textbook economics: Government cuts make a recession worse.
“The argument for immediate sharp cuts in government spending, as a means to boost the economy, doesn’t really square. It translates into less demand in the economy, less spending and fewer jobs.”
Early learning funding cuts have also affected after-school care programs in the state.