USF will be the first stop along a statewide trek of joint public hearings concerning Florida’s growth management and Medicaid reform for the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“The purpose of the hearings is to gather information,” a recent press release from Tallahassee stated. “These committees have been charged with the responsibility of gathering information and making recommendations to their respective chambers for changes.”
Those to be potentially affected by the prospect of reform include Medicaid providers and recipients. These are the types of concerned constituents the Legislature wants to hear from. Students interested in the outcomes of reform can also voice their own ideas about reducing the rapid growth in Medicaid costs or how Medicaid could provide better services.
“It’s a chance for students to interact with the legislative process by asking questions or making comments to the legislators during the public hearings,” said Jeffrey Huggins, Director of Government Relations & Legislative Advocacy for the USF Alumni Association. “This a rare opportunity to see nearly 40 legislators in both hearings, in a group, outside the halls of the capitol.”
The committee will allow input on Gov. Jeb Bush’s proposal to reform Medicaid. He does not plan to continue Florida’s Medically Needy program, which sustains some 36,000 chronically ill people. Bush believes that the Medicaid program costs too much and is well overdue for reform.
Medicaid accounts for a fourth of the state’s spending every year and is growing about two to three times as fast as the rest of the government, according to this month’s issue of Florida Trend magazine. The two growth accommodations include either cutting some people out of the programs or cutting the benefits.
In the morning session, the growth management committee wants to get suggestions and opinions from the public, local developers, builders and planners on what the future holds for Florida concerning controlled and planned growth.
“We must remember that we need to plan well ahead so that there will be water, safe neighborhoods, parks, transportation and infrastructure in place to meet the growing number of people entering the state every day,” Huggins said.
Planning for financial stability is necessary to ensure Florida’s prosperous future. According to an article published Jan. 31 on TBO.com, Senate President Tom Lee believes that if the current Legislature is unwilling to acknowledge the reality of financial pressures, then rearranging the permitting process or land-use process and declaring some kind of political victory on reforming growth management will not happen.
Students should take into account that growth management today ensures solid societal foundations tomorrow in areas such as education, diversity and cultural relations, business, health care and environmental protection.
The committees take the information gathered throughout the regional hearings back to capitol building, where it is reviewed directly by legislators.
The hearing will be held in Traditions Hall in the USF Alumni Center on Friday, Feb. 11, with growth management being addressed from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. and Medicaid reform from 1 – 4.