Sarasota News Leader

02/01/2013

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Sarasota News Leader February 1, 2013 OPINION In 2010, Rick Scott ran for governor, touting his business record and a promise to put Florida's unemployed back to work, building a vibrant state economy in the process. He drove home his talking points with thousands of commercials bought with more than $70 million of his own fortune. When the dust settled at the end of Election Day, Scott had won only 23.7 percent of registered voters … less than a fourth. Fortunately for him, only 48.5 percent of registered voters actually bothered to go to the polls, so he received 48.9 percent of the votes cast. In a perfect world, a candidate would have to enjoy the support of at least a majority of those voting, but in Florida, a plurality carried the day for Scott, as he bested Democrat Alex Sink and a host of lesser candidates, who collectively had the other 51.1 percent of the votes. He became governor of Florida with the assent of fewer than 14 percent of the citizens of the state. Page 68 When he stopped to catch his breath, he was perhaps taken aback to learn that his approval ratings among voters had dropped into the 20s. Oops! The next year he championed a billion dollars in new education spending, pointing out how valuable our schools are to the future of Florida. When the Legislature went along, he crowed about his newfound generosity. Somehow, it was never mentioned that the state's education system was still $300 million poorer than it had been before Scott had begun his austerity drive in 2011. Fast-forward another year and the 2014 gubernatorial election looms. With Scott struggling to get his approval rating slightly higher than that of castor oil, something had to change. A wholesale image makeover was needed. And Rick Scott knew just what to do. In the aftermath of a humiliating election debacle brought on by Republican voter suppression, Scott suddenly has proposed comprehensive election reform, including extending early voting days to 14, allowing local supervisors of election more latitude in setting hours and expanding polling places and limiting the length of ballots. Never mind that every "change" was simply to undo the nefarious depredations Scott and his legislative henchmen had visited upon the citizenry. Once sworn into office, Scott — along with his legislative allies — went about fulfilling his pledge to emasculate state government by firing thousands of state workers; slashing $1.3 billion from the education budget; virtually eliminating environmental oversight; handing out tax breaks to corporations; systematically disenfranchising minority, elderly and young (collectively, Democratic) voters; and effectively transforming insurance from a risk-management mechanism for the people Next, Scott decided that teachers were unto a cash-cow for unfettered insurance com- derpaid — something that could be attributed to his move to cut their pay by 3 percent panies.

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