Florida lost population for the first time since World War II. Nearly 60,000 people made a U turn--and probably said basta!--and headed out of the Sunshine State between April 2008 and April 2009.
If you're anti-growth--and sometimes I am--you are shouting, "Hallelujah!" There are fewer cars on the road, and I'm experiencing a shorter commute to work. Life is sweet.
When classes start next Monday, about 10,000 fewer students will show up statewide. Classroom overcrowding will be somewhat alleviated. If you drive around, you notice that apartment complexes are offering all sorts of incentives again. "One month free!" If you go almost anywhere, you notice the crowds are thinner. That's a combination of not only of fewer residents, but also fewer tourists. Both are connected to the recession.
Here's where I have to stick a pin in the euphoria. Spoiler alert: Florida's economy depends on growth. We have no income tax, which means the state depends on real estate tax revenue, as well as revenue associated with new construction and housing sales. Florida's sales tax receipts also take a hit as the population declines.
No growth, which is what we have now, opens up a giant sinkhole that threatens to swallow the state. Have you noticed that local governments are trying to increase your property taxes to make up the difference? Have you noticed how all sorts of fees are rising: drivers license fees, tag fees, etc.
Florida is leaderless and rudderless. We don't have political leaders who are interested in putting us on a solid financial footing. Nooooo. We are addicted to politicians who favor quick fixes and band-aid approaches. And it better be cheap, too. That's why Florida often ranks near the bottom on major health and quality of life standards. Look it up.
Sales and real estate taxes are not a solid foundation for this house. Tax cuts for large businesses aren't going to plug the financial hole, but Florida has given away billions of dollars worth of cuts. Shifting the tax burden to people whose home values have cratered and who are probably one paycheck away from unemployment is not the way out of this mess.
But siiiii. That's the kind of government we have, and exactly what we're going to get. One band aid coming up!