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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridians:

The recent S&P downgrade of US debt from “AAA” to "AA+" with a negative outlook is a consequence of the irresponsible spending spree that has taken place in Washington for far too long. If we are to avoid further downgrades and a double dip recession, our leaders must learn to live with a balanced budget.

Fortunately, the Florida Legislature has been willing to make these tough budget decisions and balance the budget each and every year. Florida is now considered to be a safer investment than the federal government, as we were able to maintain our AAA bond rating through this challenging economy. Just last month, S&P revised Florida’s outlook from negative to stable, a true testament to the benefits of living within our means.

This rating gives investors the confidence to work with us to fund projects that can aid in our state’s economic success. We had to make tough budget decisions to safeguard our rating, but it was well worth it. Florida was AAA before the U.S. downgrade, and it’s AAA today.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Welcome to the new look and feel of my weekly newsletter, Dollars & Sense. I hope that you find this new design and layout easy to navigate and the content to be interesting and informative. Feel free to email me at CFO.Jeff.Atwater@myfloridacfo.com with your feedback or with suggestions on what you think we should feature in our next issue.

Prepare Before a Storm Hits

Protect Your Home BaseEvery baseball player knows how important it is to protect your home base. Next week, August 15-19, marks the start of peak hurricane season. It is important to protect your home base, whether that is your home or business, before a storm hits.

All next week, I will be giving you tips on how to harden your home both financially and structurally and asking you what you do to prepare before a storm hits on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CFOJeffAtwater), Twitter (www.twitter.com/JeffAtwater) and Google+ (http://bit.ly/nXEyyk). I will also be asking Floridians a question each day. Whoever answers correctly first will win a hurricane preparedness kit put together by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and my office. Remember to insure, secure and recover. Visit www.myfloridacfo.com/Consumers/Storm/ for more information.

Small Business Views: Tanner Paint

Tanner Paint family with the CFOOn Thursday I had the chance to stop by Tanner Paint Company in Tampa, Florida’s oldest paint shop, having opened its doors in 1933. Tanner Paint is locally owned and operated by Steve Tanner and the Tanner family. Their fourth-generation company is proud to be one of the few remaining locally owned, independent paint companies and that the money taken in by the company is pumped back into the local economy. Trailblazing entrepreneurs like the Tanner family will keep Florida’s economy on track!

Help Families Get Florida KidCare

Florida KidCareThe annual Florida KidCare Back to School campaign kick-off was held at the Mary Brogan Museum in downtown Tallahassee. Each year, the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation leads a statewide outreach effort with several state agencies and community groups to promote Florida KidCare and help families apply for benefits while preparing for the new school year.

“The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation continuously strives to improve the delivery of quality healthcare to our youngest citizens,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “As we mark the beginning of a new school year, we have a great obligation to ensure our children are healthy and ready to grasp all of the opportunities the future holds.”

The agencies participating in the outreach campaign include: The Florida Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Education and the Agency for Workforce Innovation. All promote Florida KidCare year-round; yet participating in community events such as school supply giveaways and immunization clinics provides greater access to thousands of families statewide.

Approximately 1.9 million children receive low-cost health insurance through Florida KidCare, the state and federally funded insurance program for children under the age of 19. Children receive coverage under the program’s four components – MediKids, Children’s Medical Services Network, Healthy Kids and Children’s Medicaid. Many families pay $20 or less per month, but most pay nothing at all. Full-pay options also are available for families with higher income levels.

For more information or to apply for Florida KidCare, visit www.FloridaKidCare.org. Families can also call 1-888-540-5437 to receive an application by mail.

Timeshare Owners Fraud Alert

In West Palm Beach, Clerk Sharon Bock has issued an alert warning citizens to be wary of calls from people claiming to work for either the Clerk & Comptroller’s office or in the courthouse in West Palm Beach. The callers urge timeshare owners to wire money through Western Union so they can collect from a timeshare victims’ trust fund. Another scam has asked people to wire money to collect from a probate case.

In cases that were reported, people were told to send money either to Jose Suarez or to Nicholas Danforth. Victims who were targeted owned timeshare properties that they had attempted to sell. Clerk’s office employees will never call and ask that money be wired to them.

If you believe you may be a victim of this scam, or if you have questions about a call you’ve received, please call our Consumer Helpline at (850) 413-3089 or toll-free at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).