Sunday, February 25, 2018
Politics

Budget unveiling offers Rick Scott chance to use bully pulpit

The last time Gov. Rick Scott rolled out his budget plans, the video went viral, with almost 283,000 page views and counting.

Can you believe that there was so much interest in Scott's plans to widen roads in Dixie County? Or privatize some state prisons?

There wasn't, of course.

Unbeknownst to Scott and everyone else, a legman from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show embedded himself in the pack of reporters who gathered in the Cabinet room last Feb. 2. It was at a time when controversy was brewing over Scott's insistence that people seeking public assistance must submit to urine tests to prove they are free of drugs.

Holding a clear plastic cup skyward, Aasif Mandvi shouted: "Would you be willing to pee into this cup to prove to Florida taxpayers that you're not on drugs?"

"I've done it plenty of times," an unruffled Scott replied. Then, eager to switch subjects, the governor turned to another reporter and told The Daily Show's man: "You don't get to run this."

It was a refreshingly unscripted moment at an otherwise stilted news event. It also was clearly a stunt designed to entertain The Daily Show's viewers, at Scott's expense.

On Thursday, in the same Cabinet room, Scott will make a fresh series of budget recommendations to the Legislature — with plenty of pie charts and trend lines by his side.

Scott wants to give every public school teacher a $2,500 across-the-board raise, as well as a $250 debit card to purchase classroom supplies. He wants to give manufacturers a tax exemption on their equipment purchases. He wants to make sure state colleges and universities don't increase tuition next year.

"He's going to have to show how he's funding all these things," said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who was clearly not impressed that Scott doesn't propose linking teacher pay to classroom performance. "We're going to take a good look at it. … We have to pass a budget, too."

Submitting a budget proposal is one of two times a year that the governor most aggressively uses the bully pulpit (the other is his State of the State address).

It's also a vivid reminder of the limits of a governor's power. The Legislature decides how taxpayer money is spent. The governor has a veto for ideas he doesn't like.

Legislators take pride in their willingness to ignore the governor's budget ideas. Scott is in for some tough sledding this session, partly because he's seen as very unpopular with lawmakers' constituents. He's an easy target.

This budget will offer the most clues so far as to how Scott thinks he can improve his standing with Florida voters in the hope of increasing the likelihood he can get re-elected in 2014. It's clear that he has decided to cast his lot with the men and women who teach our children.

Scott can only hope that no one in the audience will be waving a plastic cup at him this time.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

WASHINGTON ó A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, three people fami...
Published: 02/23/18
Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

TAMPA ó A bipartisan pair of former congressmen spoke Friday about gun safety measures that are more drastic than those being considered following the Parkland school shootings, and about hopes for a national youth movement comparable to the 1960s an...
Published: 02/23/18

Gulfport candidates draw stark contrasts

GULFPORT ó One candidate is a plain-spoken, straightforward technology consultant who preaches "conservative fiscal responsibility" and votes Republican in national elections.The other is a self-proclaimed "progressive liberal" who practices law, pro...
Published: 02/23/18
William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

In the aftermath of the Broward County high school shooting, gun rights issues have jumped to the forefront of local legislative races.Democratic challengers are calling out incumbents in Tampa legislative seats on their past stances on gun control."...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the presidentís call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Published: 02/22/18
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention ó the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House ó CNNís Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Published: 02/22/18
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republicanís affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Published: 02/22/18
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trumpís Mar-a-Lago Club, the galaís organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Published: 02/22/18
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Published: 02/22/18
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. Thatís because a ban deals only with fut...
Published: 02/22/18