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Sunshine State News: LeRoy Collins Institute Releases Latest ‘Tough Choices’ Report

Thursday, February 20, 2014

On Thursday, Florida State University’s LeRoy Collins Institute (LCI) unveiled Tougher Choices: Shaping Florida’s Future, a report on a host of fronts including state finances, education, public employee pensions and other issues. The report was written by a team of economists from the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Florida. LCI has been releasing Tough Choices reports since 2005.

“Almost 10 years ago, the LeRoy Collins Institute published Tough Choices: Shaping Florida’s Future, which analyzed Florida’s revenue and spending trends and found that, while Florida certainly has boundless economic potential, there were tough decisions to be made to achieve that potential,” said Carol Weissert, a political science professor at Florida State University and the director of the LCI. “This report, Tougher Choices, revisits these concerns and, unfortunately, finds that Florida has made little progress in addressing the key issues outlined in our initial report. We hope this new report will help to further illustrate the challenges facing the state and inspire appropriate reforms.”

The report can be read here. LCI offered the following overviews of the report’s findings:

• Florida’s education system is struggling across the spectrum – from K-12 through higher education. Funding for the state’s public schools is lagging, and Florida’s young workers are less likely to have a college degree than their peers in other states.

• Florida’s reliance on retirees and tourists comes at a price as the demands of older residents and vacationers are disproportionately linked to lower-paid service jobs. To make matters worse, growing Medicaid demands due to baby boomer retirements and labor market polarization will likely lead to greater expenditures for the state in the near future.

• Florida’s transportation congestion is among the worst in the country, especially in urban areas. The state continues to lack an appropriate amount of roads for its growing population, which is only compounded by its aging infrastructure and overcrowded highways.

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