United Way of Broward County's 2015 Legislative Agenda
Advocating for Working Families

 
We are at a watershed moment in our country's history. Far too many families are walking the financial tightrope, unable to afford life's basic necessities, one emergency from falling into poverty. Across the State of Florida, 45% of households fall below the survival threshold for the basic necessities of housing, transportation, childcare, food, and healthcare. They are men and women of all ages and races working hard to make ends meet. They are our child care workers, our mechanics, our home health aides, store clerks, and office assistants; workers who provide invaluable services we all rely on in our daily lives. These working families are vulnerable to just one emergency - one car repair, one harsh storm - to quickly spiral into poverty.

What Can We Do?
Create better opportunities for our working families to advance the common good for our entire community. Access to a good education, quality healthcare and pathways to prosperity are the building blocks for a strong community. United Way of Broward County must actively engage all community stakeholders to advocate for good legislation and sound public policies in order to advance the common good for all Broward residents.

 
UNITED WAY OF BROWARD COUNTY'S PRIORITY ISSUES



Quality Early Learning

The foundation for communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork - skills employers cite as critical to workplace success - is developed by age five. Quality early learning, as well as early detection and treatment of childhood developmental and behavioral challenges, are essential to successful outcomes for children. Affordable childcare is a critical need for working families, and allows parents to maintain employment and become more financially self-sufficient, increasing state tax collections and economic productivity.

Changes we are promoting:
  • INCREASE School Readiness funding to reduce the wait list for program slots.
  • STRENGTHEN the Early Learning Performance Pilot with greater emphasis on quality standards to ensure public dollars only go to quality providers.
  • IMPLEMENT an effective and consistent quality rating system to assess and improve the level of quality in early learning programs, and give parents better information to guide their choice of provider.
  • AMEND Florida statutes to implement mandatory state approved accreditation standards for all early learning providers, using existing accreditation bodies.
Click here to learn more. 

Affordable Healthcare


Ensuring all people have access to affordable health insurance will provide for a healthier community and a more productive workforce. More than one million Floridians are without basic health coverage because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford coverage through the Health Exchanges.  Expanding health insurance coverage to Floridians with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level will provide access to basic health coverage for over thousands of working families. 

Changes we are promoting:
  • REMOVE the Kidcare five year waiting eligibility requirement for legal immigrant children.
  • EXTEND presumptive eligibility for all children enrolling in Florida's Kidcare program.
  • INCREASE funding for healthcare navigators and Kidcare enrollers.
  • ADOPT an alternative plan that draws down Federal Medicaid expansion dollars using a public/private partnership to provide health coverage for eligible Florida residents.
  • OPTIMIZE access to quality behavioral health treatment and prevention services by increasing funding for proven, evidence based programs.
  • INCREASE crisis stabilization unit beds to divert individuals with mental illness from the more costly criminal justice system.
  • ESTABLISH and expand residential treatment programs to increase accessibility to treatment for children and adults.
Click here to learn more. 

Workplace Development and Small Business Growth


Many hardworking Florida households struggle to make ends meet; they hold jobs, pay taxes, and provide services vital to the Florida economy. However, many of these jobs do not pay enough to afford the basics of housing, childcare, food, healthcare and transportation. According to data from the United Way ALICE Report, a comprehensive study into Florida's population of residents who are working hard but falling short, 69% of jobs in Florida pay less than $20 per hour or $40,000 gross annually. In addition in the next decade, the growth of low-skilled jobs is projected to outpace medium and high skilled jobs. Over the last decade, Florida's median household income decreased by 12% while the cost of living has increased by 13%. The continuing decline in wages will mean lower consumer spending and lower economic growth for Florida.

Changes we are promoting:
  • MAXIMIZE funding for all job training programs, including Florida's Quick Response Training Grants.
  • PROMOTE collaboration with business and industry, school districts, Florida colleges and universities, community-based organizations and correctional institutions supporting workforce education, and industry certifications in emerging economic sectors.
  • REAUTHORIZE the Florida Enterprise Zone Act.
  • EXPAND funding for entrepreneurial training and technical support programs
  • INCREASE funding for micro-finance loan programs providing capital for small business growth.
Click here to learn more. 

Affordable Housing

Housing is often the single biggest expenditure of working families. As more families are in affordable housing, there is a 'spillover' effect for the whole community since they have more disposable income for food, healthcare and other necessities. Broward County has some of the highest levels of cost-burdened households for both renters and owners of any metro area in the United States; 60% of renter households and 46% of owner households, regardless of income pay more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs. 

Changes we are promoting:
  • FULLY FUND and maintain the Sadowsky Housing Trust Fund. 
  • ENSURE all trust funds are used only for housing grants and not swept for other revenue needs.
  • AUTHORIZE local governments to explore funding and policy changes to meet local affordable housing needs.
  • PROMOTE local incentives with private developers to encourage the development of affordable and attainable housing through zoning bonus programs, impact fee waivers, school fee exemptions, expedited permitting, and tax abatement programs.
  • SUPPORT the Community Land Trust model of home ownership to retain public investment and create a permanent supply of affordable housing and land stewardship.
  • PROMOTE the creation of nonprofit consortium lending partnerships to create lending pools for private and public developers.
Click here to learn more. 

How You Can Help 


Get involved to support any of our issues by:
For more information, contact Dave Wallace, Director of Public Policy Advocacy.

   

Special thanks to the many community stakeholders who developed United Way of Broward County's 2015 Legislative Agenda

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