Miami Herald: Florida’s working families could get $200 tax-credit refund if Legislature passes my bill

During this holiday season, I am filled with deep gratitude for the greatest hero in my life: my mother. As the oldest of her four children that she raised on her own, I watched as she stretched her modest paycheck as a teacher each Christmas to make our holidays joyful.

Like her, many others work each and every day without complaint — and without a pay raise — to improve the lives of their children and loved ones.

Families across Florida have seen their quality of life erode in the midst of a “flourishing” economy as their daily expenses — healthcare, housing and transportation — increase and their wages remain stagnant.

Unfortunately, the policies of President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are only making the situation worse.

In Washington, the super-wealthy and large corporations get tax cuts, while the trade war and tariffs advanced by the president drive up the price of food and consumer goods by as much as $100 billion annually, costing the average Florida family $850 a year.

Our most vulnerable Americans — those facing chronic hunger — now are also facing the prospect of less federal support. Currently, Trump administration officials are finalizing a rule that would end free school lunches for children across the nation, including almost 200,000 children in Florida. The result: More children will go home hungry every night when they lose the one constant source of nutrition.

In Florida, the DeSantis administration has embarked on a similarly misguided path. Last session, the wealthy and well-connected, aided by legislative leadership, received a $500 million hand-out, while everyday working Floridians received no meaningful tax cuts. Today, in a state where teachers are poorly paid, schools underfunded and affordable-housing challenges remain unmet, the governor and Republican legislative leadership refuse to collect revenues owed Florida from online retail sales. These are tax revenues that could easily help address critical needs or support families through the working families tax credit.

Florida’s working families deserve the same amount of attention as those who hire high-powered lobbyists in Tallahassee and Washington. That is why I filed the Working Families Tax Credit bill, to put more money in the pockets of those who need it most and to give our state’s economy a boost.

Building off the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, this legislation would give working families in Florida an average refund of approximately $200 per year.

We all know how expensive it is to live in South Florida. While an extra $200 a year may seem inconsequential to many, for a working family it represents a trip to the supermarket, the cost or co-pay of an unexpected doctor’s visit or some much-needed money to buy a present for a child during the holidays.

It is time for Florida to follow a majority of states — 29 in total — that already support working families with a refund every year. I trust that our governor and my legislative colleagues will join me in backing this proposal, so we can provide families and our small businesses with the support they have earned through their hard work and perseverance.

The resources are there to make this program a reality. Now let’s get it done.

Rep. Javier Fernandez, a Democrat, represents District 114 in the Florida House of Representatives.

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