There's a difference between identifying a problem and finding the right solution to fix it. Gov. Rick Scott demonstrated this week that he understands the difference when he vetoed a Republican-backed bill to overhaul Florida's alimony system. The plan went too far and would have disrupted the lives of potentially thousands of Floridians, most of them women.
SB 718 would have rewritten state law to limit a judge's discretion — an odd tactic in this most personal arena of civil law, where fairness is determined by individual circumstances. It would have assumed that in marriages lasting less than 11 years, no alimony is required and that child custody would be shared. And when alimony is awarded, it would be presumed to last not more than half the duration of the marriage.
But the most glaring problem with the bill was that it aimed to apply retroactively to any divorce agreement, wreaking havoc for Floridians who have built lives based on divorce settlements with alimony income. Scott noted in his veto message that state law already allows alimony-paying former spouses to seek adjustments from the court. He wrote that he did not want to open the door to "unfair, unanticipated results."
Scott's decision is smart politics, showing he is sensitive to an issue particularly important to women. But it is also good governing. The Legislature's job is to find the best solution to problems, not to create new ones.