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A Times Editorial

Scott's Florida is grim place for average citizen

The question of whether Alex Sink or Rick Scott has been the most ethical, trustworthy leader in private business has been answered decisively in Sink's favor. Now as the deadlocked governor's race enters the final week, Sink needs to make clear why her pragmatic vision for Florida's future is far preferable to the radical one proposed by Scott. Her best chance comes Monday night at the final debate in Tampa.

The Democrat would be an essential check on the arrogant, right-wing Legislature. Scott is marching in sync with his fellow Republicans, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon. What would it mean if the Governor's Mansion and the Legislature were always in lockstep?

In Scott's Florida, government would all but abandon its obligation to protect consumers, parents, women, minorities and property owners. Insurers, health care companies, developers, private schools and big business would be the big winners — which is why Associated Industries, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business interests are in Scott's camp. For the average Floridian, it is not a pretty picture.

Scott would deregulate property insurance, sending premiums sky-high. He would fight health care reform, leaving 4 million uninsured Floridians on their own. The evisceration of growth management would continue, allowing developers free rein. The state's tourism and fishing industries would be at risk to offshore drilling.

The Republican talks about school choice, but that's code. Private school vouchers would be expanded and divert money from public schools. There would be an Arizona-style immigration law that would discriminate against minorities; abortion restrictions that threaten the constitutional rights of women; and a ban on adoptions by gay Floridians that the courts have overturned.

Scott's fiscal promises are just as unworkable. He claims he can dramatically cut taxes and balance the state budget through spending cuts without harming education funding. But the few specifics he's provided, such as slicing the prison budget by 40 percent, suggest unthinkable trade-offs.

Now Sink needs to sharply contrast that approach with her own. She better protects the rights of all Floridians and offers a level playing field, not one tilted to the powerful. And she is a proven fiscal conservative as chief financial officer who promises smart cost-cutting to balance the budget without raising taxes.

Sink opposes oil drilling. She supports streamlining growth management but not abandoning it. She backs investment in rail and other transportation. And she would encourage private property insurers to return without letting them set their own rates and avoid consumer protections. All are key to maintaining Florida's industries and attracting new ones.

Her education plan would wisely invest in early education and promote merit pay for teachers while returning control to local districts. She supports individual rights, including a gay Floridian's right to petition to adopt a child; a woman's right to make medical decisions without government intrusion; and sound immigration reform, not Arizona-style laws that subject minorities to racial profiling.

Sink would be every Floridian's governor. Scott would have Floridians fend for themselves. That's the message Sink needs to drive home Monday night.

Scott's Florida is grim place for average citizen 10/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 22, 2010 6:43pm]
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