Make us your home page

Liberal groups say Gov. Scott is targeting middle class

Gov. Rick Scott's policies keep the Sunshine State's middle class under economic siege, liberal groups asserted Wednesday.

With state budget cuts and tighter unemployment benefits, Florida's latest legislative session put more of a strain on the middle class, according to a report by Demos and the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy.

Advocates from the groups urged Tallahassee and Washington to spend more government funds in order to revive the economy.

"Instead of turning to proven strategies of investment and infrastructure, we're continuing on this path of short-term deficit reduction," said Tamara Draut, a vice president at Demos, which advocates for voting rights and a larger public sector.

The presentation titled "Under Attack: Florida's Middle Class and the Jobs Crisis" adds more fodder to the main political debate of the day: will more government spending help or hurt the economy? The White House is feuding with Congress over how to extend the nation's cap on deficit spending, with Republicans insisting on spending cuts and Democrats pushing to cushion cost savings with more tax revenue.

A spokesman for Scott, who campaigned on leaner government as a boon to business, rejected the notion that the governor's agenda is hurting the middle class.

"I think Gov. Scott is doing some great things for the middle class. Job creation to start off," said spokesman Lane Wright.

He noted Florida added 28,000 jobs in May, slightly higher than the net gain across the country for that month, which was recently revised down from 54,000 to 25,000. He credited Scott's promises to cut red tape in Tallahassee and roll back needless regulation. "People are getting the message that Florida is willing and ready to do business, and are bringing those job creators into the state," he said.

The "Under Attack" report notes that in Florida, the top 5 percent of earners saw their income increase 54 percent since 1986, compared to a 17 percent gain for the middle 20 percent. It said only six states have a wider income gap than Florida does.

The report also said Florida stands out for its lack of labor unions, with just under 6 percent of the state's workers organized compared to the national average of 12 percent. Emily Eisenhauer, of the Research Institute, cited anti-union bills pursued in Tallahassee as part of Florida's assault on the working people.

"The actions in the Legislature that have made it more difficult for unions are not helpful for the middle class," she said.

Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, majority leader for Republicans in the Florida House, dismissed the idea that more unions will help the recovery.

"I personally believe unions exist to perpetuate unions," he said. "A union will never be satisfied. They will always want more."

Liberal groups say Gov. Scott is targeting middle class 07/13/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients


    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel


    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]