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  1. Florida Politics

Romano: No offense Gov. Scott, but they're making you look like a wimp

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, left, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [AP, left; SCOTT KEELER | Times, right]
Published May 15, 2017

Dear Governor,

Can't help noticing you've been a little peeved lately. Honestly, I can't blame you.

You've been in office long enough to know you're not going to please everyone, and the critics will come at you from every direction. There should be no surprises or complaints there.

Still, it's gotta sting to be knee-capped by your own cohorts.

Worse yet, they did it in full view of the world. You argued, you threatened, you practically groveled in the public square, and Florida legislators still treated you like some empty-suited stooge.

Things you hold dear were basically ignored in the new budget, and now House Speaker Richard Corcoran is practically daring you to veto it. And while that may be tempting, you run the risk of allowing lawmakers to return to Tallahassee and embarrass you again.

So where do you go from here? I would suggest 2010.

Go back and revisit the candidate you were before your first term. That Rick Scott railed against "career politicians'' and "Tallahassee insiders.'' That Rick Scott declared "dealmakers'' were crying in their cocktails the night you won the Republican primary.

You may not have been the most charming candidate, and you seemed more conservative than the average voter, but your anti-establishment posture connected.

That's what's got to be so galling for you today.

Corcoran's attacks on Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida have left people with the impression that you're the dealmaker working corporate angles. That you're the insider wasting taxpayer money.

Even more laughable is Corcoran's hijacking the role of a populist. And that is where you should call bull.

No matter what anyone thinks about jobs incentives being used at Enterprise Florida or reckless spending at Visit Florida, those were not the key issues in the minds of most voters six months ago.

Corcoran used them to grab headlines and make you look out of touch. Meanwhile, he was pulling off one of the most grotesque examples of insider politics Tallahassee has seen in ages.

Not only was the budget crafted entirely in private, but an education bill (HB 7069) was thrown together at the last minute that continues Tallahassee's micromanagement of public schools and furthers the state's zeal to hand over education funds to corporate interests.

If you want to fight back, that's where you should start.

Corcoran dressed up HB 7069 with a lot of other ideas — some entirely worthwhile — but he mostly wanted $140 million for his Schools of Hope plan.

He plays with the numbers to make it look like the state is spending more than ever on education, but the reality is the Legislature has burdened school districts with unnecessary edicts that create financial hardships and make it harder to do their jobs. Meanwhile, Corcoran's cherished charter schools get more money and more freedom.

Vetoing HB 7069 should be a no-brainer for you.

First, it would be good for the state. School boards, superintendents, teachers, parent groups and editorial boards have all come out strongly against the legislation. Next, it would give you the chance to again blast power brokers and their legislative tricks.

And, finally, it reminds everyone who is supposed to be in charge.

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