Legislation introduced to create Florida Commission on Poverty

Lawmakers believe coordinated effort could reduce poverty


TALLAHASSEE – At least 17 percent of the Florida's population is living in poverty and lawmakers are looking to change that.

D'Andrea Williams is one of more than three million Floridians in poverty.

"It's hard making ends meet. I don't want to stay where I'm at, but I want to get out of where I'm at to have a better foundation for my family," Williams said.

The Getting Ahead program from the Capital Area Community Action Agency is helping Williams get there. Tim Center is the agency's CEO.

"Once we're able to stabilize them in crisis, we can then work with them and get them out of crisis and into a better situation, hopefully moving out of poverty and off of public assistance," Center said.

Groups like Community Action – who help low-income families with anything from paying utility bills to child care – are working independently from other poverty-focused groups around Florida and lawmakers say it's time to bring groups together and start coming up with real solutions.

Lawmakers want to bring groups across the state working on Florida's poverty problem together and form a new commission.

Legislation was introduced Thursday that would create the Florida Commission on Poverty.

"There's a lot of great work being done throughout each of our 67 counties, but there could be a more coordinated effort," said Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee).

The bill's sponsors were quick to point out that some people may roll their eyes at yet another Florida commission, but they've been successful in the past.
"The defense support task force we created, and Florida has led the nation in becoming the most military friendly state," said Sen. Thad Altman (R-Rockledge)

If the bill were to pass, the Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Senate President, House Speaker and Florida Association for Community Action would all be able to appoint a member to the problem solving group.