Florida: Model For Free-Market Reform

The Florida Legislature recently wrapped up one of its most successful sessions in recent memory. The legislation passed this year ensures that students will enjoy greater educational opportunities, teacher unions will be more accountable to their members, and patients will have access to innovative new health care options.


These are just the latest legislative victories that in recent years have made Florida a more free and open society for all. The Sunshine State is lighting the path forward for other states looking to make free-market reforms.

On education, lawmakers passed a bill that brings accountability to government unions and expands the options available to students.

To ensure that teacher unions remain transparent and accountable to the teachers they represent, unions will need to report how many of their bargaining unit are dues-paying members. If the number dips below 50%, the union would be required to reapply for certification. This ensures that the people who negotiate for teachers actually have the support of teachers.

Schools will benefit from increased administrative flexibility. Effective principals will be allowed to manage multiple schools, and high-performing charter schools will be able to open more schools in the same district.

Meanwhile, students who are struggling in public school will gain access to new and expanded scholarship programs. The Hope Scholarship will give students who have been harassed or assaulted in public schools the option to receive an education elsewhere on a state scholarship. Another scholarship will help struggling readers afford supplemental materials and tutoring.

The bill also creates new funding sources for Florida’s existing scholarship programs, ensuring that more students than ever before can find the school that best meets their educational needs.

On health care, lawmakers cut the red tape surrounding “direct primary care” services, an innovation that’s rapidly gaining popularity nationwide.

Direct primary care agreements give patients access to quality care at reasonable prices by removing the middlemen of insurance companies. Patients simply pay a monthly subscription fee that typically costs $50 to $100 and, in return, gain access to routine medical services like checkups and lab work at little or no additional cost.

The model has obvious advantages for doctors and patients alike, but in many states, legal uncertainty has slowed its adoption, as physicians often worry they will become subject to burdensome and irrelevant state insurance regulation. Florida’s new bill eliminates that concern by clarifying that direct primary care services are not subject to unnecessary regulations.

State legislators have much to be proud of in their latest session, which continues the progress we’ve made over the last several years in promoting growth and opportunity in Florida. Some of our greatest progress has been in eliminating wasteful corporate welfare, reducing the state’s debt, and lowering taxes.

Just this session, the legislature cut nearly $170 million in taxes and prevented an automatic $375 million property tax increase. That brings the total tax savings for Floridians to more than $10 billion since 2011.

The legislature, working together with Governor Rick Scott, has also managed to put the state’s fiscal house in order. This past year, Florida was ranked first in the nation for fiscal health. Spending on education and infrastructure has been prioritized, while state lawmakers have refused to spend a penny of taxpayer money on private sports stadiums and other corporate handouts.

The rapid progress Florida has made over the last several years should inspire reformers nationwide. As other states struggle to cut spending and provide residents with affordable health care and quality schooling, they should look to our legislative victories as a model for creating an efficient and effective government for all citizens.

  • Corcoran, a state representative, is speaker of the Florida House.
  • Gardner is chief government affairs officer at Americans for Prosperity.

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Originally posted 2019-09-19 23:14:11.


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