Incoming House speaker warns of ‘deep budget cuts’ coming to Florida government programs

Florida’s incoming House speaker warned members of the South Florida Business Council this week that in order to weather the “massive financial hit” the state sustained from the pandemic, there will need to be “significant cuts to the budget.”

Rep. Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican who is in line to become the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives for two years in November, hinted that the budget austerity needed to recover from the coronavirus-induced recession would take “three to four years to get back to where we are,” but he was optimistic Florida would be in better shape than other states.

“We’ve had an obviously massive financial hit to the state, not unlike the businesses we’ve seen interrupted or closed during this period of time in COVID, which is going to create a significant challenge for us,’’ Sprowls told the virtual webinar of about 250 members of the council, which includes members of the chambers of commerce in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

“The only way to kind of weather that storm and get the state back on its feet is going to mean significant cuts to the budget,’’ he said.“ There’s going to be businesses and restaurants that unfortunately never open their doors again here in Florida, and that’s going to take a toll on the economy.”

A survey of the group’s members before the event found that 64% said that COVID-19 is the top issue facing Florida.

But, in keeping with Florida’s Republican governor and incoming Senate president, all of whom are Trump supporters devoted to helping the incumbent president win re-election, Sprowls refrained from discussing some of the darker details related to the COVID-induced troubles in the state’s budget.

For example, Florida economists say the state faces faces a $5.4 billion budget deficit over the next two years that will necessitate the budget cuts. The governor has suspended COVID-related evictions and mortgage foreclosures five times, the latest expiring on Oct. 1 and the decision has left a housing industry in limbo with no promise for what could happen to the hundreds of thousands of families who don’t have the money to pay their owed back rent.

Sprowls also avoided any mention of the state’s unemployment rolls, a number that shows signs of improving in August but which remains at 7.4% compared to the pre-COVID record lows. And he said nothing about the fate of the state’s unemployment fund, which by Election Day could run out of cash to pay benefits to jobless workers.

Legislators on the sideline

As the coronanvirus barreled into Florida, shuttering businesses in the peak of the summer tourist season and infecting nearly 700,000 residents, Sprowls and other Republican legislative leaders have left the spotlight to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

This month, Sprowls and incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson penned an op-ed addressing another issue not often touched by Republicans: a call for better floodplain management in the face of sea level rise.

Democrats have tried and failed to call for

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Green Opportunities ends Kitchen Ready and YouthBuild programs

ASHEVILLE – Green Opportunities’ YouthBuild and Kitchen Ready programs are shutting down and will be replaced with new programs that have not yet been determined.

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Sherman Williams, chairman of the organization’s board of directors, told the Citizen Times that GO is “still in discussion” about what new programs will be created, whether they will be similar to the ones they’re replacing and when they will debut.

“We’re thinking and hoping that it will be just as successful as what we’ve had in the past,” he said of his expectations for the new programs’ effect on GO’s community.

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The programs that are ending are doing so because their funding sources have expired, Williams said. GO also is not seeking new funding for those programs at this time.

GO has suffered some financial issues in the past. Williams stressed that the organization is “in a good place” now, but he declined to give details about expenses and debt.

Founded in 2009, GO is a nonprofit offering practical training, industry-recognized credentials and job placement services for entry-level workers from marginalized communities. It has a reputation as being a success.

The organization’s executive director from 2017-19, J Hackett, said recently that during his time at GO, the unemployment rate in the surrounding Southside community plummeted.

More: Grind Coffee Co. brings Black-owned cafe and coworking space to the River Arts District

GO’s YouthBuild program offers GED help and construction training for at-risk individuals ages 16-to-24. Versions of the program exist nationwide and are funded primarily through the U.S. Department of Labor, which receives annual appropriations from Congress.

GO Kitchen Ready provides free food-industry job training and offers donation-based meals to the Southside community through a partnership between GO, A-B Tech and the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association. Williams said funding for that program comes from various sources.

GO debt is ‘being addressed’

In early 2019, the partial government shutdown hit the GO hard. Hackett told the Citizen Times last year that the organization was forced to go without crucial grant funding, prompting difficult conversations about possible furloughs and even putting up kitchen equipment as collateral for loans.

By last November, GO was facing challenges as it stared down the barrel of more than $210,000 in long-term debt with no executive director at its helm, according to a monthlong reporting project by Mountain Xpress.

Asked where that debt stands now, Williams told the Citizen Times, “It’s being addressed.” He declined to share what the remaining debt is. 

GO also still has no executive director. Williams said the organization is “checking into (its) personnel situation and trying to make sure (it has) the right people available in the program.”

Williams said GO is funded through a variety of means, including donations and grants. It also brings in revenue through some of its programs. In 2017, the Citizen Times reported that much of the organization’s funding came from Mission Hospital, the city

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5 Tips For New Graduates of Interior Design Programs

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing the interior design portfolio of students here in San Diego. It was refreshing to see the talent coming from school but I will be honest and pass on the following tips to these graduates and the others throughout the United States.

  1. If an Interior Designer talks to you and is interested in your portfolio, have the courtesy of sending them a handwritten thank you note for looking at your work. That handwritten note will put you at the top of the pile. Do not forget to hand write the address! Otherwise, the possible employer might think its junk mail!
  2. If someone takes an interest in your work and sends you an email, please send a reply. I saw someone’s work that I was impressed by and I sent an email two days ago and I have yet to receive a reply.
  3. Take any design work that is available if offered by a possible employer, even if it is an internship. What you learn from someone more experienced will take you far in life and open up your portfolio to other possible clients.
  4. Be realistic!  Right now there is 10% unemployment in California and homeowners do not have money to spend on home improvement. It is important to watch the trends going on. When credit is easier and people do not feel that they might lose their jobs, interior design will come back.
  5. I was disappointed to see how much the students were taught at this particular school to have so many giveaways. The trade shows I attend do not have this kind or quality of giveaways! I am lucky to get a pen or two at a trade show. Spend your time and effort working on your presentation skills. That means going to toastmasters to learn to public speaking, volunteer and expand your network and most of all, be nice to everyone you meet!  They made know someone who might or could use your skills as a designer!
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