AFSCME Stood Strong in Florida’s 2016 Legislative Session

The 2016 Florida Legislative session was a packed two months but, overall, may well be remembered for what didn’t happen – bitter divided fights that led to the special sessions of past years. And for working families, including AFSCME members, there was certainly places where the Legislature failed to move in the right direction or could have done more, but plenty of more places where we won.

In an $82 billion budget, $82,348,890,392 to be exact, there is plenty that can be discussed, even though it was passed with large majorities from both parties in both chambers. And it was not all financial initiatives. For instance, an open-carry bill that was widely opposed by our members who work at institutes of high education. And yes, there were losses, such as the failure of Legislators to pass the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act,” which would have taken large steps forward to end discrimination in employment or public accommodation.


  • Governor Scott proposed $1 billion in tax cuts, most for big corporations, in a way that would have negatively impacted budgets for years to come. We opposed these cuts at every step and, along with allies, were able to bring that down by more than half to $413 million.
  • Florida’s dedicated state employees got further along in the process towards securing a pay raise than in previous sessions. But close doesn’t add anything to the pay check and, despite ramped up advocacy and communications around the need to invest in state employees, no across the board pay raise was advanced. This issue will be one of our central issues in this fall’s election for state legislators and a focus in next year’s session.
  • The effort to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour in Florida will, like with many states across the country, have to continue next year. AFSCME has been well integrated into the effort across the state and we will continue speaking out.

Health Care

  • We secured an appropriated $95 million to fund state employee health insurance which will allow workers and their families to access this key benefit with no change in premiums.
  • We avoided the dramatic cuts to our public hospitals, such as Jackson Memorial, which were a threat of so many previous sessions which protected the jobs of many of our members.
  • State employees now also have some expanded health care benefit options that they can choose from and will help control future costs increases.

Protecting Local Progress

  • In one of the session’s first major wins for working families, we stood with a coalition of partners to stop legislation that would have made local living wage, prevailing wage and other pro-working family ordinances illegal on public works projects.
  • We also defeated legislations that would have blocked local governments and voters from having a role in the approval and guideline process for process known as fracking.


  • Always a chance for the anti-worker forces to attack us, we were able to fight back once again on attempts to weaken or even end pensions. Not only did we pass important legislation that will allow the families of first responders killed in the line of duty to get the same level of survivor benefits no matter if they were in the defined contribution or defined benefit, we stopped it from being a vehicle to weaken pensions through bed provisions and amendments.
  • We were able to secure a $9 million increase in Florida Retirement System contribution from the state.
  • Voters are now able to decide on if, under certain conditions, a portion of a special sales tax will go to funding local pensions that have become underfunded through the mismanagement and underinvestment by local leaders.


  • Legislation that will help increase Floridian’s participation in the electoral process, we supported legislation that eliminates the term “absentee ballot” and instead uses “vote-by-mail ballot” to accurately describe the process and its ability to be used by every voter in the state.
  • We were unable to pass a number of provisions that would have strengthened families, protected our rights and advanced equality. Included in this is legislation that would have strengthened whistleblower protections, granted workers paid family leave or paid sick leave and a bill to ensure fair pay. This is all legislation we have advocated for, and in many cases passed, on the local level and we will continue to do that while bringing these us again next session. 
  • We did beat back an attempt to weaken oversight of state and local government that would have impacted the cost of attorney’s fees in public records requests and cases. This would have had a chilling effect on organizations and individuals trying to keep government in the sunshine.

With Gov. Scott announcing $256 million in vetoes, our job for this 2016 legislative session is not done. We will keep our focus on Tallahassee even as we ramp up plans for how to win in the next session.

For more information on AFSCME Florida’s work across Florida, sign up for text alerts by texting FL to 237263, visit, click here for email updates, follow AFSCMEFlorida on Facebook and @AFSCMEFL on Twitter.