The year 2009 was one that none of us will soon forget. Our financial houses were shaken at the core and all aspects of American life were deeply affected. It also marked the beginning of our recovery, and for that we are all thankful.
The Florida Legislature was not immune to the financial crisis. Unlike the Federal Government, states can’t run deficits or print money. Many good programs had their budgets reduced and could have been hurt more deeply had Florida not been the beneficiary of billions of dollars in stimulus funds from those folks who can run deficits and can print money. Like it or not, it helped keep our education and healthcare systems operating at a safe level. On the negative side, it only delays what will be some very hard decisions in 2010 and 2011 and increases our federal debt for our grandchildren to pay.
The 2010 Florida Legislature will convene on March 2. While budget concerns will capture most of the headlines during the upcoming Legislative Session, other issues important to our membership will be on the agenda as well. This booklet outlines some of the many issues that we forecast will be discussed. Some of them are good for retailers.... others are not.
From a macro standpoint: New business creation and the resulting jobs generated must be on the priority list for all of us. As I write this, Florida’s unemployment rate is approaching 12 percent, a number inconceivable just 24 months ago. And, while retail sales are improving every month and increased real estate transactions are reducing housing inventories all around the state, unemployment remains very problematic. Government can’t create real jobs—other than expanding government (a bad thing)—but it can provide incentives for private sector expansion and growth. It can help attract new industries and ensure that a trained workforce is ready for the next decade of business development. And sometimes, it just needs to stay out of the way and let business do what it does best: create wealth, capital, and new jobs.
I hope you will take a few minutes to review these pages and then give us your feedback on the issues covered….and any other issues that are important to you.
As always, we are fighting for you every day.
Richard A. McAllister
FRF President and CEO