Throughout our history, United Way of Northeast Florida has worked tirelessly to improve people’s lives and build strong communities. With our focus on community impact, United Way has a key role to play in advocating for good public policy.
The government is a critical decision-maker and the major provider and funder of health and human services in Florida and throughout our country.United Way of Northeast Florida’s active engagement in public policy seeks to ensure that the priorities of our policy makers are aligned with our goals in the areas of education, income and health.
Get to Know Our Issues
As legislative committee weeks begin and the Florida Legislature prepares to convene in March, United Way of Northeast Florida has once again joined with other United Ways across the state to offer a Legislative Consensus Agenda. Florida is the only state in the union where all its United Ways bring their voices together to advance policies that align with our collective community impact in the areas of education, income and health.
Early learning will continue to be a priority for Florida’s United Ways. Last year, we saw substantial increases in funding for Florida’s early education initiatives, including adding $8.8 million dollar to Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program, and $10.5 million to advance quality enhancements among Florida’s early learning providers. This year, the goal is to build on those gains by supporting increases to the VPK per student funding allocation, increase school readiness access through additional funding, and continue the availability of quality incentives.
Helping hardworking Floridians attain and maintain self-sufficiency is good for the economy and for families. Every year, thousands of IRS-trained volunteers help Florida families both meet their tax obligations and obtain the refund for which they are eligible. Based on the success of our own RealSense initiative in Northeast Florida, we are seeking state funding to expand access to free tax preparation and financial education opportunities to low- and moderate-income families.
In 2013, coalitions offering tax preparation assistance helped Floridians recoup over $221 million in refunds, saving low-income taxpayers an estimated $17.6 million in tax preparation fees alone. But even with the great work that is being done by these coalitions, Florida taxpayers still don’t claim the tax credit they deserve, leaving more than $1.1 billion in potential refunds unclaimed in Washington. This money could provide a much-needed increase to thousands of family budgets throughout Florida, creating opportunity for asset growth, financial stability, and economic stimulation.
Just as they have in the past, Florida United Ways continue to recognize that good health is fundamental to a child’s ability to succeed in school and to adults’ ability to provide for their families, contribute to society, and live a full life. Access to affordable health care is an essential building block to a productive life and Florida United Ways will continue to advocate for increasing access to affordable health coverage – specifically Florida’s children.
If you have any questions about United Way’s advocacy program, please don’t hesitate to contact the director of public policy, Jason Roth, at 904-390-3211.