Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

"A rose-colored view of Florida"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State address on Tuesday offered a rose-colored view of Florida that he hopes to sell in his re-election campaign and ignored the biggest issues facing lawmakers. The governor offered little beyond more tax cuts and shortsighted limits on university tuition as he took credit for the economic recovery and criticized his predecessor and presumed November opponent, Charlie Crist. But the Sunshine State is more complicated than Scott suggested, and his agenda should be broader."

On public school funding, Scott boasted that he proposes record spending for 2014-15. Actually, Florida spends less per student now than when the governor took office. Even with his proposed increase next year, per student spending would be $177 less than what the state spent in 2007-08 before the economic recession.
"Scott took credit for the improving economy and falling unemployment rate, indirectly blaming Crist for the economic pain of the recent recession."
He ignored the broader factors that both triggered the recession and the recovery, from the stock market to housing prices that have little to do with who occupies the Governor's Mansion. Instead, he made the familiar conservative argument that tax cuts create jobs. . . .

The governor continues to promote his performance solely on economic terms, specifically job creation. But the governor's role is much larger than promoting economic development. Scott offered no indication where he stands on many of the key issues facing the Legislature, and lawmakers won't hesitate to fill the leadership vacuum.

"Scott's leadership vacuum". See also "Scott touts job creation, economic upswing in State of the State address", "Scott pushes tax cuts, slams Crist in State of the State speech", "Rick Scott Turns on Charlie Crist in State of the State" and "Gov. Scott touts accomplishments at state of the state".

Kevin Derby: "Florida's Leadership Divides on Scott's State of the State".

"Trying to Snuff Out Medical Marijuana"

"Parents of perhaps thousands of children with unrelenting epileptic seizures are holding their breath today as a bill that would decriminalize light-strain medical marijuana comes under attack from a drug-policy official with no background in medicine, science or agronomy. Kevin A. Sabet, director of the University of Florida's Drug Policy Institute, has a Ph.D. in public policy from Oxford University and a propensity for arguing against decriminalization of any part of the marijuana plant that isn't already in a clinical trial or with a pharmaceutical company." "Anti-Legalization Advocate Trying to Snuff Out Medical Marijuana Bill".

"Dream Defenders shake the Capitol"

"About 150 members of the Dream Defenders outside the House and Senate chambers chanted, stomped and jumped so hard that the fourth floor of the Capitol bounced during a protest on Tuesday." "Dream Defenders shake the Capitol on opening day".

"Setting the stage for a grueling re-election campaign"

"Setting the stage for a grueling re-election campaign, Gov. Rick Scott took direct aim at Charlie Crist’s record as governor without mentioning his name." "Gov. Rick Scott gets personal and political in State of State speech".

Weatherford's plan

"Weatherford outlines house plan for session". See also "Gaetz, Weatherford Open 2014 Session Backing Governor's Top Priorities".

"Scott oversaw the largest Medicare fraud at the time"

Fact-checking the Florida Democratic Party claim that Rick Scott "oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history," Politifact reports that

The Columbia/HCA settlement has since been surpassed in dollar value, though the bigger cases involved Medicare somewhat less directly. Because the Democratic Party could have been a bit more specific in its wording — by saying that Scott oversaw the largest Medicare fraud at the time — we rate the claim Mostly True.
"Rick Scott 'oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history,' Florida Democratic Party says".

Weatherford "remains the stalwart fool"

Fabiola Santiago: "It’s this simple: The Florida Legislature cannot afford to decline federal dollars for healthcare."

A state with an estimated 3.3 million uninsured — even in a post-Affordable Care Act world — can’t continue to play political games and forgo $51.3 billion in federal funds.

The partisan match with the U.S. president doesn’t pay nor serve citizens in any imaginable way — and even fiscal ideologue Gov. Rick Scott has changed his view on accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid and better serve the underprivileged.

"Who remains the stalwart fool who can turn down a $51.3 billion bounty rolled out over 10 years?"
House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Republican from well-heeled Wesley Chapel who has vowed to fight to the finish any effort to bring up the issue again in the legislative session that began Tuesday. He’s not even amenable to the latest proposal, a Republican-friendly one that places the money in the hands of private health care insurers and providers. . . .

Weatherford’s opposition to federally subsidized healthcare is, at best, hypocritical.

According to his father, the family accepted more than $100,000 in Medicaid dollars to pay the bills of Weatherford’s cancer-stricken 13-month-old brother, who died in 1995. Weatherford has said he was too young to remember how the finances were handled, yet he remembers enough to cast doubt on his father’s recollection, and avoid judgment on his position. But he’s catering to the point of view of wealthy supporters and the powerful father-in-law who put him in office, Tallahassee royalty.

It would be negligence of the worst kind for the legislature to continue to decline money that would bring some relief to a state in dire need of healthcare funding.

"Lawmakers would be negligent in declining federal help".