Washington State and Florida don’t have a lot in common: aside from being at opposite corners of the country, both their political climates and their actual climates are poles apart. But one thing they do suddenly have in common are bills in their state legislatures to provide taxpayer-funded healthcare to illegal aliens. In common between them, too, is that neither state has infinite resources, a fact that evidently must come as a great surprise to the supporters of these fiscally reckless bills.
Washington Senate Bill 5957 and Florida’s two bills, House Bill 1385 and Senate Bill 1872, aren’t just similar: they’re virtually identical. You might suspect the same people probably drafted them. That’s because they both copy nearly word-for-word a single-payer healthcare bill introduced last year in California, Senate Bill 562, the so-called “Healthy California Act.” As with seemingly everything to come out of California lately, one of its main goals appears to have been giving as many handouts as possible to illegal aliens at the expense of American taxpayers.
In one section after another, the California bill makes clear repeatedly that illegal aliens should get all the same benefits as U.S. citizens and legal residents, and that not giving them these benefits would be “discrimination.” On top of that, the single-payer healthcare system that it creates might as well be called “sanctuary healthcare” because the bill prohibits both disclosure of immigration status information and any kind of cooperation or assistance with federal immigration authorities. And all these provisions are copied virtually unchanged straight into Washington’s and Florida’s bills.
SB 562 proved too extreme and expensive even for California: the state’s own fiscal analysis said it would cost $400 billion, half of which would require new revenue. That would have been more than twice the state’s total 2017-18 budget, “which includes $183.3 billion in spending.” But of course it was the overall price tag that was the “gigantic brick wall” that made it a “nonstarter,” not the fact that it heaped yet more public benefits on illegal aliens.
Washington State faced a budget shortfall last year, and just barely averted a state shutdown by raising taxes at the last minute. It’s already expected to face a similar crunch this year, and that’s without creating a massive new welfare program for illegal aliens.
Florida’s fiscal situation was a little bit better than Washington’s—that is, until Hurricane Irma hit the Sunshine State in September. Inflation-adjusted recovery costs are likely to match those from Wilma in 2005 and Andrew in 1992, while revenue can be expected to drop. In the wake of the storm, the legislature’s chief economist has projected that the state’s small anticipated surplus is gone, replaced by $500-million deficits for at least the next three years without major changes.
If there’s anything that’s almost certain, it’s that government programs never come in under budget. If there’s anything else that might be even more certain, it’s that creating expensive new benefit programs for illegal aliens just attracts even more illegal aliens, which makes those programs still more expensive. Neither Washington nor Florida could afford these costly bills even in the best of times, let alone now, and they should reject them.
David Jaroslav writes for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.