Make us your home page

Legislator says, 'We're not hard-hearted'

Rep. Jake Raburn, left, Rep. Dan Raulerson and state Sen. Tom Lee, right, listen as Rep. Ross Spano, with microphone, speaks Wednesday at a chamber luncheon event.

Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce

Rep. Jake Raburn, left, Rep. Dan Raulerson and state Sen. Tom Lee, right, listen as Rep. Ross Spano, with microphone, speaks Wednesday at a chamber luncheon event.

BRANDON — Speaking at a gathering of local business people, Rep. Ross Spano insisted the state House wasn't "hard-hearted" because it voted against an expansion of Medicaid.

Spano, R-Dover, was among the representatives who shared stories and answered questions about two months of state legislative battles during the 2013 session at the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Wrap-up Luncheon Wednesday.

Spano, fellow state representatives Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, and state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, did a similar event at a breakfast in Plant City before making their way to Brandon for lunch.

Several guests at the Brandon event submitted questions regarding the failure to expand Medicaid and the decision to turn away $51 billion in federal health insurance aid.

The moderator combined them into one, over-arching question for each legislator to answer.

Spano, who was first up, took time to explain the problems the legislation faced and the different approaches the state Senate and House of Representatives each took. The House view, as Raburn explained, was that Florida simply couldn't afford to rely on federal money that might be depleted or run out in three or five years.

"What if someone gave you a $2 million dollar home and said for the first three years we're going to pay the mortgage for you," Raburn said. "And then after three years we're going to pay less of it, and then there's really no guarantee we're going to pay any of it at all."

Though the Legislature didn't reach a conclusion on Medicaid this session, Spano wanted residents to know that both the House and the Senate are committed to finding a solution.

"Please believe us, we're not hard-hearted," Spano said. "I think everybody should have medical care. The issue is what kind of care. Is it a government system that Medicaid has shown is broken, too expensive and out of control, or are we trying to come up with something that's better and still provides care?"

Lee called the pension system and Medicaid the issues that will define the trajectory of the budget over the next 10 to 20 years. He also quickly put to rest any rumors of a special legislative session being called to order.

"The Legislature will not, should not, will never go back into special session until we have some idea what we're going do when we get there," Lee said. "Until we get some consensus between the House speaker, the Senate president, our leadership teams and the governor's office on just what kind of program we're going to craft, it'd be awfully premature for us to proceed."

Each of the representatives served as freshmen legislators, facing the complications of state politics for the first time. Lee was back for his second stint as a state senator, having left the Senate in 2006 after serving as Senate president.

The three rookies each commented on the learning curve associated with their first year. For Raburn, the biggest frustration arose when seeing the politics of it all prevent good legislation from being passed.

"You'd like to think everyone in Tallahassee is there fighting for public policy, but realistically there are people there that don't necessarily have that as the top of their priorities," Raburn said. "As you're writing your bills, to have something you think is a good bill, good public policy, die in the process over personality issues, it's tough."

About 1,600 bills were filed this session, Raulerson said, but only 284 passed. Many others were combined, added as amendments or tabled for another year.

Each spoke with pride about the bills they sponsored and passed this year: Raburn's legislation on a K-12 education plan preparing graduates for college or vocational school, Raulerson's on stormwater drainage and Spano's on human trafficking.

Lee, who said he didn't focus on sponsoring as much legislation this time, was a valuable asset for the three freshmen as they looked for allies on the senate side.

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected]

Legislator says, 'We're not hard-hearted' 06/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 2:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. HQ2 watch: As deadline looms for Amazon headquarters pitch, one metro bows out


    If there's one national business saga to keep up on these days, it's the frenzy by metropolitan areas — including Tampa Bay — to make their best pitches to Amazon in the hope of being chosen as the new location for the giant online retailer's second massive headquarters. HQ2, as it is called, would create …

    Cities across the country are trying to land Amazon's second headquarters, known as HQ2. In Birmingham, Ala., giant Amazon boxes were constructed and placed around the city as part of its "Bring A to B" campaign. [Ali Clark/Bring A to B Campaign]
  2. Shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations rebound from stronger earnings report


    TAMPA — After a sharp drop in its stock price in August and September, Health Insurance Innovations on Monday announced strong revenue and net income gains in preliminary numbers for its third quarter of the year. The company also announced a $50 million stock buyback over the next two years meant to bolster its …

    After losing more than half its market value between August and September, shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations are rebounding."The new share repurchase program underscores our confidence in our business strategy, financial performance, and the long-term prospects of our company while also allowing us the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business," company CEO Gavin Southwell announced Monday. [Courtesy of LinkedIn]
  3. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially …

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]
  4. Florida gas prices drop 25 cents on average over past month


    Gas prices are on a downward tear post-hurricane. Tampa Bay fell to $2.34 per gallon on Sunday, down 10 cents over the week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Across the state, gas fell 7 cents over the same period to average $2.47 per gallon.

    Gas prices across the state fell 25 cents over 31 days. | [Times file photo]
  5. Entrepreneur expands interests with Twisted Crafts


    SOUTH TAMPA — Playgrounds of Tampa owner Mike Addabbo is expanding into the do-it-yourself industry with his new endeavor: Twisted Crafts.

     Jennifer and Michael Addabbo pose in their latest entrepreneurial enterprise: Twisted Crafts. Photo courtesy of Twisted Craft.