Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Gov. Bob Graham fears proposals of Gov. Rick Scott

TALLAHASSEE — Former Florida Gov. Bob Graham has been mostly silent about the proposals of men who have succeeded him in the office he left in 1987.

But Friday he openly criticized Gov. Rick Scott's plans to cut education funding, eliminate money for Florida Forever and dismantle the state agency that oversees growth management.

"This idea of selling Florida as the cheapest state — well that's what we've got now," Graham said in a lengthy telephone interview with the St. Petersburg Times. "To drive it (costs) down at the expense of young people's education is wrong.

"Florida is a wonderful place to live. But it is a fragile place, and we have to keep investing in the things that will retain that high quality of life."

Graham, 74, said he fears measures proposed by Scott and supported by the Republican-led Legislature will not only damage education and the quality of life for Floridians, but also hurt efforts to attract new business.

"We have to add other elements like places that provide quality education for their children," said Graham, one of Florida's most prominent Democrats. "The difference between Chapel Hill (North Carolina) and Fort Pierce (Florida) is where would I like to go for quality of life and opportunity for my kids."

Scott has proposed cutting education funding, zeroing out Florida Forever and dismantling the Department of Community Affairs, along with layoffs, pension and health care payments for state employees. The Legislature appears to be following his lead in most respects.

"I'm discouraged at a lot of things that are happening," he said. "It seems so shortsighted, the idea of cutting education by 10 percent seems unbelievable. To cut Florida Forever (the state's land buying program) to zero and cut down spending on the Everglades — it all damages education and the environment."

Of plans to force state employees to pay more for their pensions and health care, he said, "It's dismissive, like a head coach telling all the players they are lazy and overpaid.

As governor from 1979 to 1987, Graham actively promoted land use planning, environmental issues and education. He also faced his share of problems: the Mariel boatlift of more than 125,000 Cuban refugees who came ashore in 1980, riots in Liberty City, a statewide trucking strike and the collapse of the Sunshine Skyway into Tampa Bay. He supported a unitary tax on Florida-based corporations, never believing that taxes discourage companies from moving to the state.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, his final year as governor, Graham retired from the Senate in 2007 and has since played elder statesman as chairman of a commission on weapons of mass destruction and one that reviewed the BP oil spill in the gulf.

He's also writing a novel that will be published in June called Keys to the Kingdom. It's about Saudi Arabia.

Lucy Morgan can be reached at

Former Gov. Bob Graham fears proposals of Gov. Rick Scott 03/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey


    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign


    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.