Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bousquet: A solution for Scott's Hispanic problem?

It's hard to think of a worse week than the one Gov. Rick Scott just survived, but he can turn things around if he wants to.

First, though, a recap of what went wrong.

Scott's campaign finance co-chairman, health care exec Mike Fernandez of Coral Gables, quit in protest of the way the campaign is going. Then, in three blistering emails, the Cuban-American business leader called into question Scott's commitment to Hispanic voters and accused a campaign aide of crudely imitating a Mexican accent.

The campaign says the slur never happened, but Scott nearly apologized for it on Friday. "My heart goes out to anyone involved," he said in Tampa.

Scott has appointed Florida's first Hispanic lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. But the ethnic overtones in Fernandez's critique ought to be a wakeup call that Scott needs to do something to reassure Hispanics before it's too late and it comes off as election-year vote-pandering.

Anyone who's paying close attention to the legislative session knows exactly what Scott should do, even though it would rile some conservatives.

Rather than waiting for the Legislature to act, he should lead the charge to guarantee passage of a law offering in-state tuition rates to children of undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers. The bill, HB 851, passed the House 81-33, but it's not clear whether the Senate will take it up, and a strong push from Scott would change the dynamics.

In his ever-cautious manner, Scott has tiptoed his way toward supporting the idea, as long as lawmakers also get rid of a 15 percent tuition differential, an additional amount universities can impose without legislative approval.

Scott backs a Senate bill that would abolish tuition differentials and offer in-state tuition rates for Dreamers. The House bill preserves a 6 percent differential, backed by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Scott could visit Florida International University in Miami and the University of South Florida in Tampa, two of the state's most diverse universities, and make a firm declaration that … well, listen to Weatherford, who calls it a moral and economic issue and whose conservative credentials are unquestioned.

"I would hope that the whole Legislature would not punish these kids for mistakes their parents made," Weatherford said. "The kids didn't make the mistake. They are living in this country, and they're going to live in this country for the foreseeable future."

If Scott, as is sometimes suggested, relies on polls to shape his policy positions, he might want to consider polling data that Associated Industries of Florida has shared with some legislators. AIF paid for a survey of 1,000 likely general election voters last month (the margin of error was 3.9 percentage points).

Those polled were asked whether they agreed that "children of illegal immigrants who live in Florida and graduate from a Florida high school should be eligible for in-state tuition at a Florida state college or university," and 63 percent said yes and 29 percent said no.

By championing in-state tuition for Dream kids, Scott might just become their new hero (not to mention Weatherford's).

And who knows? People might even stop talking about Mike Fernandez's emails.

Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Bousquet: A solution for Scott's Hispanic problem? 03/31/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Veteran big game hunter dies after elephant, felled by gunfire, collapses on him

    Wildlife

    Theunis Botha led his first guided hunting safari through South Africa's grasslands in 1989. A college student at the time, he used the money he received to help put himself through school.

    Big game hunter Theunis Botha, shown here with elephant tusks, was killed during a hunt in west Zimbabwe.
  2. Hey, somebody really ought to write about this Aaron Judge guy

    Blogs

    He can catch, too.

    It's no tall tale.

    Aaron Judge, The Amazing Colossal Man, has come and gone, but not before he stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge robbed Evan Longoria of an RBI double and helped …

    Aaron Judge stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.
  3. Review: Don't miss Israel Horovitz's 'Gloucester Blue' at Jobsite Theater

    Stage

    TAMPA — Sometimes a show comes along that does everything. It engages the senses on every level, tells a story that feels real, and keeps you guessing to the end.

    Ned Averill-Snell (left) plays Latham and Landon Green is Stumpy in Jobsite Theater's Gloucester Blue. Photo by Pritchard Photography.
  4. Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren joins other prosecutors in protesting Jeff Sessions' 'tough-on-crime' policy

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Andrew Warren, the state attorney for Hillsborough County, is among signers of a letter from 31 district prosecutors nationwide voicing opposition to the tough-on-crime policies of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    Hillsborough State Atttorney Andrew Warren is among the signers of a letter from 31 top prosecutors nationwide opposing Attorney General Jeff Sessions' 'tough-on-crime' policies. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times
  5. Suspect tells police he killed Tampa Palms roommates for disrespecting his Muslim faith

    Crime

    TAMPA — A man accused of shooting his roommates in a New Tampa apartment told police he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with the two men until he converted to Islam then killed them because they disrespected his faith.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, of Tampa told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam and shot them because they disrespected his faith.
[Photo courtesy of Tampa Police]