Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rick Scott Tries to Avoid Wisconsin-Style Drama In Florida

Peter Shorsch reported for the Saint Petersblog website that Florida Governor Rick Scott is not opposed to collective bargaining, much like conservative governors in other states, like Wisconsin.
Gov. Rick Scott said during a radio interview Tuesday that Florida shouldn’t move to take away public employees’ collective bargaining rights as the Republican governor of Wisconsin has proposed, reports the News Service of Florida. The capital of Wisconsin, Madison, has been beset by protests over the proposal there, with teachers walking off the job because of the threat to end their ability to collectively bargain over salary and benefits. While Scott has sought to require public employees to contribute to their pensions, he said Tuesday has no plans to mirror Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining proposal. “My belief is as long as people know what they’re doing, collective bargaining is fine,” Scott said in an interview with WFLA Radio in Tallahassee. Scott said what he means is that as long as the discussion is honest about what benefits employees are getting, he has no objection to public employees being members of unions.
There is probably one main reason why Rick Scott has come out opposing such actions - Republicans maintain comfortable margins in both the Florida House and Senate.

In the Florida House of Representatives, Republicans control 81 out of 120 seats (67.5 percent) while in the Senate, the number is higher, with Republicans controlling 28 out of 39 of the seats (71.8 percent).  Floridian Republicans don't need to worry about quorom to pass their agenda, but they do need to worry about bad publicity.

Scott has already garnered bad press by restricting media access and proposing a budget that aims to slash funds for every governmental department but his own.  Soctt has also pledged to turn down federal money that would have filled the remaining budget gap involving a new high-speed rail line.  The last thing Scott would need is for public protests to explode in the state, and Florida Republicans have already shown a willingness to break with the tea party-backed governor.  Bipartisan support sought to go around the conservative governor to make the rail line a reality.
In Tallahassee, a veto-proof majority of the Florida Senate rebuked Scott in a letter that urged the federal government to give the state the money Scott has refused.

“Politics should have no place in the future of Florida’s transportation, as evidenced by this letter of bipartisan support,” said the letter, signed by 26 members of the Republican-controlled Florida Senate.

“This project would create real jobs, cleaner and smarter transportation and true economic development for Floridians,” said the letter written to LaHood.

The letter was authored in part by one of Scott’s first Senate backers, Republican Paula Dockery of Lakeland, who argued that the newly created Florida Rail Enterprise could act independently of Scott because the state’s share of the rail money — $300 million — was already approved last year by a previous governor, Charlie Crist.
While Scott claimed he was only doing so to avoid cost overruns and subsidies due to low ridership, private companies have already stated they would have paid for additional construction costs and operating losses, but that made no difference to the tea party and their governor - they view the rail line as federal waste and want the governor to deny the funds based on principle, even if a majority of the state's elected officials support the high-speed rail.

This is common for the tea party - they want to ignore the minority.  In Florida, Democrats may be in the minority, but that does not mean you ignore them because a Republican won office.  This is why former governor Charlie Crist was popular - he supported both Democratic and Republican issues.

State legislators know that if they stand behind the governor all the way, they will suffer at the polls in 2012, and maybe Rick Scott knows this too, which is why he is trying to avoid any negative publicity regarding this issue.

Democrats should still be wary of the governor's words - he has already shown himself to be a friend to corporations and an enemy of the people...

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