Florida is a Dynamic State
While citizens should not change their state constitutions lightly or short-sightedly,
they should demand that governments and laws serve their interest by reflecting
economic and social realities. That was the case in 1968, when Florida voters
modernized state government in line with the state's dramatic changes of
the mid-20th century. The challenge to the 1998 commission is to draft changes
for 21st-century Florida.
Consider these changes in Florida in recent years, a few of the many changes
that affect our daily lives:
- Florida's population has more than doubled, from 6.7 million in 1970 to
13.9 million in 1995 with a projected 15.5 million in 2000. Florida's population
density (258.4 persons per square mile) now equals Pennsylvania's. Nearly one of every four (23.1 percent) Florida residents
lived in Dade or Broward counties in 1995.
- The center of Florida's population was still moving southward in 1970, to
just south of Lake Garfield in Polk County. By the 1990s, it was moving
northward, according to the Florida Almanac 1995-96, "due to lack of room
for expansion in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. . . and a growing
flight of residents from congested metropolitan areas."
- The number of motor vehicles registered in Florida increased from 3.5 million
in 1965 to 11.2 million in 1992, and further increases are expected. Florida
had 112,808 miles of public roads and highways in 1993. In the last quarter-century,
Florida's electrical consumption more than tripled, from 55.5 million kilowatt
hours in 1970 to 169.3 million in 1994.
- Total forest acreage in Florida declined 27 percent from 1940 to 1980. Virtually
all of Florida's dry prairies have been lost to cattle pasture and agriculture.
Over half of all freshwater marshes in southwest Florida have been lost
since 1900. In the last decade alone (1982-92), developed land statewide
increased by 34.6 percent.
- There were 6,970 inmates in Florida's state prisons in 1965. By 1995, there
were 62,992 - a number projected to more than double to 148,382 by 2005,
at an annual cost then of $3.5 billion. In some areas of Florida, prison
construction and staffing have become the fast-growing source of new jobs.
- There were 52,312 marriages in 1966 in Florida, and there were 23,757 divorces
and annulments in 1964. By 1994, there were 142,895 marriages and 81,628
divorces and annulments.
- The number of tourists visiting Florida was 20 million in 1980. In 1995,
it was over 51 million; Florida Trend reported in that year, "Of all Americans
who took travel vacations in the last five years, a stunning 63.8 percent
vacationed in Florida at least once."
- Walt Disney World did not exist in 1968. There were 522,575 residents in
the Orlando metropolitan area in 1970; by 1995, there were 1.4 million,
with 1.8 million projected for 2005.
Florida's geography, business climate, and natural resources have made it one of the fastest growing states.
- In 1970, there were 989,366 Florida residents 65 years old or older. By
1994, there were 2.6 million, with that number projected to reach 2.9 million
by 2000. The fastest growing age group in Florida is residents over 85 years
old; from 1990 to 2000, they are expected to double to 407,969 and increase
by over half again to 631,165 by 2010.