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Florida Insider Poll: DeSantis’ voucher plan will get Supreme Court’s OK

But will it survive the Legislature?
A screen grab from the Koch group's TV ad pushing for universal school vouchers, also called "education scholarship accounts" | YouTube
Published Mar. 15
Updated Mar. 15

Gov. Ron DeSantis did as he said he would and put three conservative justices on Florida’s Supreme Court immediately after taking office.

Florida Insiders think that move all but guarantees his plans to expand the state’s private school voucher program will survive a constitutional challenge.

Three out of the four campaign operatives, lobbyists, money-raisers, political scientists and other veterans of Florida politics polled by the Tampa Bay Times think that the state Supreme Court will give its blessing to DeSantis’ education agenda, even though the same body rejected a similar approach by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

“Vouchers will survive only because the Florida Supreme Court is much more conservative than the one that banned Bush’s plan," one Democrat said.

Another participant who doesn’t identify as a Democrat or Republican said this: “I suspect the majority on the Florida Supreme Court will easily find grounds to overturn precedent by saying the previous court erred in saying the educational system with vouchers was not uniform and point also to the wide variety of tax credit scholarship programs that have emerged in Florida since that ruling indicating much more widespread use and acceptance of vouchers.”

But 12 percent still think DeSantis will have a harder time getting his voucher plan through the Legislature than any other part of his agenda.

The DeSantis idea that Insiders think has the toughest road ahead, though, is his support for arming teachers, as laid out by the state’s post-Parkland commission. Of the 194 respondents, 41 percent think that it will struggle to get Legislative support.

One in four said that DeSantis’ pitch to buy prescription drugs from Canada is the least likely to get lawmakers’ approval.

The Times also asked this question: Who is the leader of the Florida Republican Party? And there’s no doubt in the mind of Insiders. A whopping 87 percent said it’s DeSantis, while 6 percent gave the nod to Sen. Marco Rubio and just 3 percent to Sen. Rick Scott.

And when it comes to 2020, 73 percent think DeSantis will help President Donald Trump in the critical swing state of Florida. One in four said he won’t matter, while just a couple people thought he would ultimately hurt Trump here.


  1. State Rep. Chris Sprowls, 35, addresses the Florida House of Representatives, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla., after the Republican was elected to lead the 120-member chamber. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan) BOBBY CAINA CALVAN  |  AP
    The Pinellas Republican did not shy away from the wedge issues of the day, wading into 2020 presidential politics, abortion and climate change.
  2. The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County identified a positive case of hepatitis A in a food service worker at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City on Oct. 22, 2018. [JOSH FIALLO | Times] JOSH FIALLO | TIMES  |  JOSH FIALLO | Times
    Slightly more than 200,000 people have been vaccinated this year — a huge jump from the 49,324 people vaccinated in all of 2018.
  3. This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. [Photo courtesy of NOAA] NOAA
    Nearly a year after the storm, 18,000 claims are still open.
  4. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    Gov. Ron DeSantis also had set a priority of getting more youngsters ready for kindergarten.
  5. Energy-efficient LED light bulbs. (Times | 2008) St. Petersburg Times
    Trump’s administration recently scrapped a rule that would have phased out incandescent light bulbs.
  6. President Donald Trump speaks at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat Dinner in Baltimore on Sept. 12. JOSE LUIS MAGANA  |  AP
    The country is moving in that direction, though.
  7. She’s the fifth candidate to announce her campaign for the GOP primary.
  8. Rep. Chris Sprowls, R- Palm Harbor.  [SCOTT KEELER  |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    At 2 p.m. today, the Republicans of the Florida House are scheduled to elect the Palm Harbor state representative to serve as speaker for the 2021 - 2022 term.
  9. Students and community activists marched in Tampa last year after the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The attack killed 17 people and gave rise to Florida’s school guardian law, which this year was changed to allow classroom teachers to be armed. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the measure into law. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    "This is the dumb, backwards stuff that we do here,” one Florida lawmaker said.
  10. Florida Senator Tom Lee, R- Thonotosassa. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES
    Tom Lee chairs the Florida Senate’s Infrastructure and Security Committee, which has been tasked by the Senate president with coming up with a response to the most recent spate of mass shootings.