What We Are Reading


…Some Fed Watchers are not sure sure that adds up. Read the Article

Tampa Bay Times Op-Ed
Florida Adds Jobs, but Below the Surface Worker Data Bleak

It seems that economic “good news” abounds in Florida these days. Unemployment fell to 5.6 percent in December, the state’s lowest rate since 2008. According to ADP’s latest monthly report, Florida remains the third-best job creator in the nation. The governor’s office reports more than 728,000 private-sector jobs have been created since 2010.

Things do appear to be looking up, but are we seeing the entire economic picture? Read the Article

Florida Job Growth Skewed Towards Lower End of Wage Scale

A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute shows the State of Florida ranking fourth worst in income equality. The top 1 percent of Florida wage earners made an average of $1.49 million in 2012, while the bottom 99 percent earned an average family income of $34,387. Read the Article

Poll Shows American Women Leaving the Workforce

florida times

As recently as 1990, the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, but it has now fallen behind many European countries, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll. After climbing for six decades, the percentage of women in the American workforce peaked in 1999, at 74 percent for women between 25 and 54. It has fallen since, to 69 percent today. The percentage of working women in many other countries, however, has continued to climb. Among the countries outranking the United States in prime-age women’s labor force are Switzerland, Australia, Germany France, Britain, Canada, Poland, Portugal, Japan — just to name a few.
Read the Article

Use Florida’s surplus wisely

Letter to the Editor
Re: Surplus Estimate Surges
Published in 12/24/14 Tampa Bay Times

As I read this article about Florida’s $1 billion surplus revenue estimate and potential tax cuts, a simple analogy I learned in elementary school came to mind — the family farmer.Farmers feed their families on what they produce. When annual harvests exceed what the farmer’s family needs, there is a surplus to sell on the open market. But suppose our farmer experiences three years of drought. Each year the farmer not only lacks a surplus, but also enough food to properly feed the family. Their nourishment falls below what they need for long-term survival. They become weak and unhealthy.

Now suppose that growing conditions improve in the following year, and the farmer grows more than the prior year. Is this increase a surplus? Should the farmer sell the “excess” over last year’s harvest and leave the family on the starvation diet that they have endured for the past three years? Of course not. Yet that same absurd notion of “surplus” is exactly what is motivating the governor to propose lowering taxes.

Florida families, businesses and communities are still hurting from the recent recessions, as well as our state government’s ability to provide many essential services that drive our economy and ensure our safety and well-being. Just like our farmer family’s nourishment during the drought years, many public programs fell to starvation funding levels due to state revenue harvests well below normal: public school funding; health care for children, the disabled and elderly; unemployment compensation payments; and much more.

Florida still has shortages and common sense calls for using these gains to restore the well-being of our Florida families, businesses and communities to ensure their health over the long term. Kudos to Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner for recognizing there are other ideas for how the “surplus” gets spent.

Linda Alexionok, Tallahassee
President, Voices for Florida

GDP…does it tell us the whole story?

florida times

Is GDP really telling us all we need to know about our economic opportunities and social well-being? Below are two stories for review and reflection about this question. According to the Wall Street Journal article, America is on the right path because GDP is increasing. However, The New York Times article offers a very different view. This article brings attention to other outcomes that will affect our children and their ability to achieve the “American Dream.”

U.S. Economy Grows at Steady Clip Wall Street Journal 10/30/2014

The American Dream Is Leaving America New York Times 10/26/2014

Brainstorming Session Encourages Entrepreneurs for Concerns of Society

florida times

Economically. Socially. Comparatively. Americans aren’t doing so well. That was the point of a group brainstorming ways to lift the quality of life in Florida. The well-being of its citizens.The group from area business and academic communities gathered at the University of North Florida Thursday to discuss ways to make things better for the children and families in the state who are struggling.
Read the Article

Yellen: Greatly concerned by widening income gap

dave bundy

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sounded an alarm Friday about widening economic inequality in the United States, suggesting that America’s longstanding identity as a land of opportunity was at stake.
Read the Article

Voices for Florida to Present its 1st Power of 10 Grand Round Discussion in Jacksonville

Approximately 100 thought leaders of diverse industries will gather at the University of North Florida to discuss ways to improve the quality of life for children and families in the greater Jacksonville area and statewide.Called “The Power of 10 Grand Rounds Discussion,” the event is sponsored by Voices for Florida and The University of North Florida in partnership with Voices for Florida Girls, the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, and The Children’s Campaign.  Read the Article 

What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?


WHEN terrorists in Nigeria organized a secret attack last month, they didn’t target an army barracks, a police department or a drone base. No, Boko Haram militants attacked what is even scarier to a fanatic: a girls’ school. That’s what extremists do. They target educated girls, their worst nightmare.That’s why the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head at age 15. That’s why the Afghan Taliban throws acid on the faces of girls who dare to seek an education. Read the Article 

Current Events



Research and Reports

The Lifelong Impact of Preschool

Florida ranks 37th in resource allocation to its voter mandated Pre-K program. The program meets only 3 out of 10 national benchmarks that evaluate overall program quality and access. Watch this important report by CNN to find out how improving Florida’s Pre-K program makes good economic sense. Watch the Video 

More Evidence For Why U.S. Is Dropping in Global Rankings


According to new analysis of 2013 federal data by Southern Education Foundation, the nation’s oldest education philanthropy, this is the first time in at least 50 years that a majority of U.S. public school students are living in poverty. An average of 51% of U.S. students in PreK – 12th grade now reside in low income families. The results are even more troubling considering that the U.S. economy is reported to be improving. The reports reflects that 59% of Florida’s public school children are living in poverty. Read the full report. Read the article 

Yale Study Shows Economic Rewards of Medicaid for Children


A new novel study from Yale looked at the long-term impacts of Medicaid for children once they become adults. Using newly available tax records measured over decades, they found people who had been eligible for Medicaid as children, as a group, earned higher wages and paid higher federal taxes than their peers who weren’t eligible for the federal-state health insurance program. And the more years they were eligible for the program, the larger the difference in their earnings. Read the article 

Florida Drops to 28th in National Rankings of Public School Systems

Florida ranked as high as fifth and no lower than 11th in overall ranking in previous years of states and the District of Columbia according to Education Week in its “Quality Counts” report. The significant drop from past years is a result of the improved methods for ranking based on measureable outcomes versus policy and administrative requirements. Read the article 

United Way ALICE Report


A new United Way of Florida Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) Report finds a startling 45 percent – or 3.2 million – of all households in this state cannot afford basic housing, child care, food, healthcare, and transportation. Despite working, often at more than one job, these individuals and families earn too little for a sustainable lifestyle.

Read the ALICE report

The Correlation between Social and Economic Progress

Learn more about the very real correlation between economic opportunities and the social well-being of children by watching these videos.

Wealth Inequality in America Learn the reality of how America’s wealth is distributed versus how we think it is distributed.

Social Progress Index 2014 Results Learn why measuring GDP alone cannot create long-term prosperity and well-being.

The Raising of America This video preview of a new PBS series, scheduled to air in 2015, gives an overview of what stands in the way of our country’s progress and what we can do about it.

From Pre-K to Prosperity


The number of adults and children relying on assistive social services such as welfare and Medicaid is climbing at an alarming rate. To address this negative trend the authors of a newly released report, “Pre-K to Prosperity,” inform readers about how the investment in high-quality early learning programs is not only a cost effective solution, but is also cost-efficient. Pre-K is the economically proven investment that provides children with critical thinking, oral, and written comprehension abilities that can reverse their future need for welfare and Medicaid assistance. High-quality Pre-K programs give children abilities and skills that are fundamental to their future learning success and is the foundation for growing a world-class workforce and prosperous economy. Read the article 



At Voices for Florida, we believe that every person really can make a difference, and that every difference made really does matter. It all starts with what you know. Voices for Florida empowers our members with knowledge – well-researched, evidence-based best practices and data on quality-of-life issues that are critical to us and our children’s future.



Sharing is the universal language of human interaction, which brain scientists call the essential ingredient for strengthening social ties and enhancing quality of life. At Voices for Florida, our members gain a sense of unity and common purpose by connecting and sharing high-impact knowledge.



Collaboration is not a spectator sport. Activities that bring people together to engage in collective problem-solving or raise awareness create powerful connections that can last a lifetime and literally change the world. Voices for Florida offers members diverse ways to get engaged and contribute to help build a better future for us all.



Rooted in the Old English word for “bold,” the act of building is inspired and driven by the courage and confidence that the effort will have impact. Simply put, when Voices for Florida members know, share and engage, they collectively drive better outcomes to build strong communities and successful families, creating a better future for our children.

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    Voices for Florida
    111 S. Magnolia Drive, Suite 4
    Tallahassee, FL 32301
    Main line – 850.425.2600
    Fax line – 850.425.2620
    Email – contact@voicesforflorida.org