It has been nearly a week since the shocking Bloomberg News headline declared the poverty rate in Orlando was nearing 20%, as Orlando was once again named the lowest paying metropolitan area in America. According to U.S. Labor Department data, almost 40% of jobs in Orlando pay less than $25,000 per year and the overall median pay dropped to $29,400, the lowest among 50 most-populous U.S. cities. Orlando’s poverty rate is near 18.4%, well above the national average of 14.5%.
Sadly, the recognition is nothing new. Last year, Orlando ranked as the lowest paying job market in America. Surprisingly the overall median pay seems to have dropped from $29,450 in 2013.
But even with the latest news, the public still has not heard a word about the poverty crisis or low paying wages from local elected officials, like Democratic Mayor Buddy Dyer or other City and County Commissioners. Meanwhile, Dyer and other local officials continue to pretend the ongoing crisis, which has happened under their watch, does not exist. But even Business Week pointed out:
A local economy dominated by low-wage jobs has caused fiscal troubles for Mayor Buddy Dyer, a 56-year-old third-term Democrat, underscoring the widening gap between cities as well as among wage earners. Orlando lifted property taxes by 17.7 percent last month to close a $17 million budget hole next year. It joins low-wage cities like Atlantic City, New Jersey and Memphis, Tennessee, struggling to cover rising costs. In contrast, Houston, Nashville, Tennessee, and San Jose, California, have seen property-tax collections soar to records.
While residents struggle, Mayor Dyer and other officials continue to congratulate themselves for creating record levels of debt in order to pay for the construction of the controversial Venues projects and other over-development efforts that are hurting local residents. Buddy Dyer has not publicly discussed his $115,740,000 debt via loans with variable rate interest that he used to pay for the city’s portion of the Venues projects. To balance the budget crisis this year, Dyer also proposed cutting Police and Fire Department budgets by $11 million. WFTV Channel 9 News also helped uncover $106 million in more debt for the City of Orlando to pay for the new MLS soccer stadium.
All of these decisions will only cost residents and taxpayers even more down the road.
But with nearly one out of five Orlando residents living in poverty, “Democratic” Mayor Buddy Dyer is even cutting hours of certain city employees to avoid having to provide healthcare through Obamacare.
When will the madness end in Orlando? At this rate, likely only with a real change in leadership locally. But one coalition group, Central Florida 15 Now, is a grassroots group committed to winning a $15/hr minimum wage in Florida. We’ll see how receptive “Democrat” Dyer or the overwhelmingly Democratic City Council will be to the needs of local workers.