"Scott’s bold [sic] budget plan wasn’t even 24 hours old Tuesday before state legislators started ripping it apart and leveling a familiar charge against the governor: He wasn’t forthcoming with details."
Whether it was his billions in cuts to Medicaid or to schools, legislators said they weren’t sure what Scott specifically wanted to do in his budget, which would further widen a $3.6 billion shortfall next year due to nearly $2.4 billion in proposed tax cuts."Lawmakers demand budget details from Scott". See also "Businesses win; schools, state workers lose under Scott's first budget plan", "In Scott budget, tests and risks", "Reviews of Scott budget lukewarm at best" ,"Scott Boasts of Budget to Businesses" and "Lawmakers pore over budget".
The criticisms and tough questions weren’t limited to Democrats; Scott’s fellow Republicans were skeptical of what many thought were skimpy details in his $65.9 billion budget.
The bipartisan concerns underscored a growing sense in the Legislature that Scott’s proposal is rooted in unrealistic political calculations, not the subtle calculus it takes to run the nation’s fourth-most populous state.
Scott Maxwell: "Rick Scott lied."
But, hey, it's becoming increasingly clear that not everyone views the truth as that big of a deal. And some people thought Scott's budget was the bee's knees!Much more here: "If you overlook the lies, Scott's budget is interesting". Related: "Spending at Schools: Where a 'Cut' is Not a Cut" and "Gov. Rick Scott revises rhetoric on education funding".
So, for today's column, I'm offering a few thoughts of my own — along with grades from a bipartisan panel of political observers whose reactions ran the gamut.
But first, the lies.
That's actually a word I don't use very often. In fact, I checked our archives to confirm that, in all my years of writing a column for the Sentinel, I've never called someone a flat-out "liar."
That changes today.
Rick Scott claimed time and time again that he wouldn't cut school spending.
He said it a variety of different ways. He vowed to "keep the school budgets the same." He said he'd hold education harmless. He even summed up his entire education budget plan in two words: "No cuts."
Those assurances allowed moderate and conservative voters who also cared about education to feel comfortable voting for him.
And yet, on Monday, he unveiled a budget that proposed more than $3 billion worth of cuts to Florida schools.
He cut it based on nearly every measure — total revenue, general state revenue, even per-pupil funding, a category in which Florida already lags the rest of the nation.
Scott tried to rewrite history this week by claiming he never really promised not to cut school funding. But the Pulitzer Prize-winners over at Politifact.com shot down that claim, too, rating it "False."
I suppose, if you want, you can argue that cuts to Florida's schools are needed. But there's no debating he lied.
As for the budget, itself, so many details remain vague that the verdict is still out.
The Sun Sentinel editorial board writes that "too much of the governor's plan is simply unrealistic and potentially harmful." "Editorial: Too much of Gov. Scott's budget stretches from unrealistic to draconian".
As reported yesterday, this proposed budget is DOA: "Scott's Budget Looks Like a 'No Sale' to Lawmakers".
Dumping sewage into the ocean
"Two Miami Republicans have filed bills that would allow sewage treatment plants in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to delay reducing their discharges into the Atlantic Ocean." "Legislation would relax deadlines for reducing pollution in Atlantic Ocean".
"Three top Senate Republicans violated their chamber's own open meeting requirement when they discussed the state budget at a private dinner with Gov. Rick Scott, a First Amendment attorney said Tuesday." "Florida senators violated open meeting rules at Governor's Mansion, First Amendment lawyer says".
Dealers dancing in the streets
"Gov. Scott seeks to kill drug database that would combat pill mills".
Waiting for Stoopid
"Former District of Columbia public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is meeting with Florida lawmakers to talk about improving instructional quality." "Ex-DC school chief Rhee visiting Florida lawmakers".
Who is this Rhee person? She's a "failed" union-hater in bed with, among others, the delightful Wal-Mart Corporation:
The urban education reform movement just got a much-needed reality check as D.C. Democratic primary voters fired Mayor Adrian Fenty, and effectively along with him one of the movement's biggest superstars, District schools chief Michelle Rhee. Chancellor Rhee was as a key, polarizing figure in Fenty's reelection campaign, which ended when he was defeated in the Tuesday primary by his challenger, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray."Why Michelle Rhee's Education 'Brand' Failed in D.C.". More about Rhee from the New York Review of Books's "The Myth of Charter Schools", a review of the film flop Waiting for Superman.
Rhee brazenly politicized her job as Schools Chancellor in a way that may be unprecedented for education bureaucrats. Back in the spring, the charitable arm of Wal-Mart and other corporate foundations threatened to yank millions they had donated to break the teacher's union if Rhee was not retained. Then Rhee not so subtly hinted to a reporter that she would not work for Gray. Finally, the weekend before the election, Rhee hit the campaign trail along with Fenty to round up votes in the wealthiest ward in Washington.
D.C. voters responded with a resounding rejection of her, her boss and their education policies.
Update: This just out - "Rhee's firing of 75 D.C. teachers in 2008 was improper, arbitrator says".
Big of them
"FPL cannot reduce $13.8 million refund to its customers".
Corporate media slams pensions
The The Miami Herald editorial board, the same editorial board that was coerced into endorsing Ronald Reagan, boldly exclaims: "Taxpayers due fairness in public pensions". We don't recall those editors jabbering much about "fairness" as Florida's already underpaid and overworked state employees took wages freezes and cuts over the past few years.
And the next time you reading a Chamber of Commerce whine about public employee pensions, recall that "Florida has the dubious distinction of being among the top five states in the nation for the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty for the third year in a row."
Fraudsters breathe a sigh of relief
"Scott wants to reform prison system".
"On the spreadsheet, the Florida agency that helps poor and desperate people is in trouble. Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget lays off 1,849 Department of Children and Families employees and slices $278 million out of the agency that oversees homelessness and health care; substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health." "Scott's proposed DCF cuts draw concern".
I’ve got one word for you: CONCRETE
"For now, Gov. Scott doesn't want to kill the state agency that protects Floridians from bad development. But he does want to leave the Department of Community Affairs in the same condition as the witch's winged monkeys left the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz." "Last straw for DCA? Gov. Scott goes after growth-management agency on false premise". See also "New DCA Secretary outlines ideas for growth management".
From the "values" crowd
"Tallahassee debates making unemployment benefits tougher to access".
Bad hair day
"Joe Biden and John Mica Clash Over Federal Funding of High-Speed Rail".
Circular firing squad
"Florida's Republican delegation is sparring over the GOP's proposed $32 billion in cuts to the current federal budget, while taking political fire from the left and right." "Florida Republicans in Crossfire Over Federal Budget".
"Scott won't push for voucher expansion this year".
Scott PSC laffer
In light of "last week’s confusion over pulling and resubmitting of the nominees by Scott. Though he has renominated Crist’s appointees on the PSC, it is still unclear how much Scott is on board with the commissioners. Under state statute, Scott would have had to appoint someone from a list of the people submitted by the PSC nominating commission." "PSC Laughs Off Scott’s Nomination Flap".
"A gift to special interests"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida legislators carried out a coup against state regulators in November. Now some in Congress, including some from the Sunshine State, are hoping to pull the same power play on federal regulators."
This bad Tallahassee idea isn't any better in Washington."Overreacting on rules".
State legislators struck first when they overrode a veto by then-Gov. Charlie Crist on a bill requiring legislative approval for any agency regulation that would cost businesses or the economy in the state more than $1 million over five years. That's a ridiculously low bar, considering that Florida's economic output tops $700 billion a year.
The new state law, sponsored by Republican Rep. Chris Dorworth of Lake Mary, is a gift to special interests whose lobbyists have the ear of legislators and would rather not be bothered by rules from state agencies. It could delay the roll-out of other laws, even ones with broad support, by a year or more. Mr. Dorworth's law already has put the brakes on a new state measure to crack down on pill mills.
The rich are different
"To help contain ballooning Bright Futures costs, lawmakers voted last year to hike scholarship requirements step by step for the next several years. Gov. Rick Scott wants to speed that up, which means that fewer students would likely qualify for the state tuition scholarship next year." "Scott wants to speed up hike in Bright Futures requirements".
"Florida's two remaining state planes are on the auction block. The Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) will take bids starting at 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon at its Tallahassee headquarters. One is a jet-powered 2003 Cessna Citation Bravo and the other is a 2000 King Air 350." "Florida agency taking bids to sell last 2 aircraft".