2013 Florida Legislative session failed on many key issues
By Roger Caldwell
Governor Scott has been taking a victory lap around Florida because some of the teachers will receive a raise of $2,500, and because of the elimination of state sales tax on new manufacturing equipment. Each school district will determine the requirements to qualify for the raise, and many of the teachers think they will not receive any money. They think that many of the Superintendents will create too many hoops to jump through to qualify for the raise.
Florida faces many huge problems, and it appeared that Governor Scott decided to stand on the outside, and not take a position. When leadership was needed our governor decided not to create any controversy because he is trying to increase his job performance numbers. The governor repeated a standard statement, “I’d first have to see the bill.”
Initially before the session started, Governor Scott surprised everyone by announcing his support for accepting federal dollars to cover another 1.1 million low-income residents through the state’s Medicare program. But in the end there was no arm twisting, and Florida stands to lose $51 billion over ten years. Here was an opportunity for the governor to support a bill that would impact poor and grassroots folks, and help improve his image, but he decided to remain quiet.
There were also other missed opportunities because many Floridians believe the Stand your Ground law needs to be fixed, but the governor refuses to show leadership. Our governor keeps saying that he supports the Second Amendment, but no one knows what that statement means. Florida also has a chance to collect taxes on sales over the internet, but Governor Scott was missing in action.
Two years ago the Miami Herald did an investigation on assisted living facilities where there were cases of abuse and death. Governor Scott again stood on the sidelines, refusing to ask the lawmakers to create a bill that would regulate and push owners to begin to clean up their facilities.
There is now talk in political circles that the Florida Legislature is considering calling a special session to reconsider the federal healthcare funding with the state’s Medicare program. It will be interesting to see if the governor takes a position on the federal healthcare funding or will he be quiet and missing in action.
Governor Scott started in office as an outsider, and now he is working to be an insider in the Republican Party. By staying away from controversy, it makes it easier for the governor to get support from the national leaders in the party. But in Florida, there appears to always be controversy in the Republican Party.
Senate President Don Gaetz in 2013 was focused on passing an ethics bill in this legislative session, and he was successful. But the last week of the legislative session, the former hospice company that he founded is being charged with Medicare fraud for 11 years by the federal government. Maybe it is a coincidence that our governor got rich by leading a company accused of Medicare fraud, and our Senate President got rich leading a company accused of Medicare fraud.