As reported today by WFTS TV News, a broad coalition of middle-class Floridians in Tampa Bay and more than a dozen other cities statewide will mark today's start of the 2014 legislative session by joining in on "Awake The State" rallies.
...an organic, grassroots movement of everyday Floridians fighting to protect and restore our middle class...made up of Floridians from every walk of life including educators, healthcare workers, police and firefighters, advocates for consumers, middle class families and more."
Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo explains that,
Average Floridians are fed up with Tallahassee politicians balancing the budget on the backs of hard-working Floridians...Gov. Scott and his allies in the legislature have made a habit of picking the pockets of our nurses, police and firefighters to further pad the pockets of corporate CEOs...We will continue to fight Rick Scott and the Tea Party until we see these anti-middle class policies changed.”
A diverse cross-section of Sunshine State residents has joined that fight. News reports often pigeonhole Progress Florida and Awake The State as "left-leaning", yet supporters and participants include Republicans, Democrats and Independents from across the ideological spectrum.
The common denominator is dissatisfaction with the direction Gov. Scott and conservative Republicans in control of the legislature have taken the state. Rally attendees may sometimes disagree about thorny social issues. But they agree the Middle Class gets the short end of the economic stick when elected officials put the wants of wealthy individuals and corporations above the needs of vulnerable working families and retirees.
The top ten reasons Floridians were looking for a local Awake The State rally near them today are:
- Florida's income inequality crisis is among worst in the USA, and still worsening.
- More than 22 percent of Florida’s nearly 19 million residents live in or near poverty.
- Gov. Scott and Republican legislators claim their corporate tax cuts and "incentives" create a "better business climate" and lots of new jobs, but the facts say something else.
- Of the new jobs created in recent years, most are low or minimum wage jobs that push families from being Middle Class to Working Poor - and often onto taxpayer-funded public assistance.
- Scott and Republican legislative leaders have let Florida's largest, most profitable corporations hide billions in profits offshore and get away with paying little if any taxes.
- They eliminated budget deficits created by that unfair tax system with devastating cuts to public education, health care and other services essential to middle-class Floridians.
- Now seeking reelection in 2014, they're putting funds back into education - while pushing voucher expansion diverting untold billions more from public to private, for-profit schools.
- They continue to block voting rights of those they fear will vote against them, like college kids.
- They continue to block federally funded Medicaid expansion that would insure over a million more people, event though Florida has the second worst uninsured crisis in America.
- Multiple new reports tell a still unraveling "Tale Of Two States", with Florida desperately divided between the top 1 percent and their allies in government, and everyone else.
From all indications, the increasing number of Floridians joining the Awake The State movement are doing so not simply to express their dissatisfaction with the state's current leadership, but to change it.