Republicans dominating the legislature and cabinet of one of the most politically diverse states in the country took up some pieces of the party’s national agenda that didn’t fly during this legislative session, and helped inspire a backlash.
A new piece in the American Prospect looks at the situation through the lens of Florida’s outsider governor:
Indeed, critics say Scott’s rhetoric and agenda haven’t always seemed germane to Florida’s particularities. Scott, for instance, wanted to require all public employees to pay 5 percent toward their retirement and put new employees in defined-contribution 401(k) plans—a proposal similar to measures in many states. But in Florida, the retirement fund is not threatened with collapse, as critics claim is the case in other states. “They decided to tax public workers to balance the budget,” says Ron Meyer, a lobbyist for the Florida Education Association, the state teachers’ union. Combined with the union-dues bill, Meyer suggests, the proposal shows how state Republicans are following the playbook of the national GOP and groups such as the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. “Instead of looking at Florida’s needs, they decided to carry out their dogma,” he adds.
Much of Scott’s agenda does seem to fit the national Republican playbook: restricting civil lawsuits; weakening unions; eliminating regulations, particularly environmental rules that may affect growth; cutting state jobs; and overhauling the education system by fostering more charter schools and mandating more testing.
“The Education of Rick Scott” is a must-read for how it weaves together Scott’s experiences from his campaign and first legislative session. He comes across as genuinely surprised that after he won the election, lots of people don’t seem to have liked what they got. It also lends support to the point that while some of his legislative victories could change state policy for decades, Scott has plenty of time to recover politically. At the end of the day, it could be all about the jobs.
From the Prospect:
Early polling is, well, early polling. And political consultants caution that Scott can rebound, particularly if the economy improves and he is willing to tweak his approach and learn what it takes to be effective. So far, Florida’s unemployment rate fell from 11.9 percent in January, when Scott took office, to 10.8 percent in April.