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Governor Scott opens state checkbook with $74.2 billion budget

Roger Caldwell

Governor Scott opens state checkbook with $74.2 billion budget

By Roger Caldwell

     In 2010, Governor Scott was a big supporter of shrinking the government and living within its means. But in 2013, the governor is proposing the largest budget in Florida’s history. The Republican governor unveiled the budget last week, and it included a $2,500 pay raise for teachers, a one-time $1,200 bonus for state workers, and $1.25 billion for additional education spending.

    Governor Scott has taken a page out of Oprah’s show book, and he has decided to give money away. He has not indicated where the money is coming from to afford these raises, but he is proposing them anyway. At his press conference when he unveiled his budget, he invited university leaders, superintendents and teachers to the announcement.

    Governor Scott has named his budget “Florida Families First” and he is trying to prove to the state that his focus is on education. The state has been completely embarrassed by our debacle during the election. The governor passed laws that forced residents to wait in some lines for 6 to 8 hours to vote, but now he has decided to put families first. Governor Scott has one of the lowest approval rates in the country, and by focusing on education, he thinks, he can mend fences and improve his polls.

    Governor Scott claims that in two years he has balanced Florida’s budget, and it is now in the Black. But Bob Williams, President of State Budget Solution, has stated that Governor Scott’s spending spree is reckless and dangerous to the Florida economy.

    “Governor Scott’s $74.2 billion budget increases state spending by $4 billion, making it the largest budget in Florida’s history. But even with the excessive spending this budget fails to pay off its $633 million in unemployment insurance loan from the federal government and doesn’t put a dent in the massive unfunded pension liabilities,” says Bob Williams.

    It is obvious that the governor is not thinking about saving and paying off bills, and instead he will be putting the state back in debt. In 2011, the state received 37 percent of its total budget from the federal government, but in 2014 the state will be lucky if it gets 30 percent from the federal government for its budget. The federal government is cutting back and it would make sense for the state governments to also be cutting back.

    On one side of Scott’s mouth he claims that he is putting Floridians and their families first, but on the other side of Scott’s mouth he is cutting 3 percent off the state workforce, and he is still trying to privatize the prison system. Governor Scott is also fighting with the federal government over the Affordable Care Act, and he is asking for waivers to implement a more flexible system.

    It is very important that citizens pay attention with this budget cycle, because no one knows where Governor Scott is getting an additional $4 billion to run the state government. It would be more practical for the governor to continue to address the state’s debt, proactively plan for future cuts, and use available funds to address the state’s pension issues. 


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