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Sarasota News Leader February 1, 2013 OPINION through forced contributions to their pension plans, which always had been 100 percent state-funded. He decreed each teacher needed an extra $2,500 per year, with the total expected to add almost half-a-billion dollars to the state budget (but actually only putting us $200 million ahead of where we were before Scott first slashed education spending). All told, Scott wants the Legislature to increase education spending by $1.2 billion this year. For those keeping track at home, that is a $1.3 billion cut and a total of $2.2 billion added back, for a net increase in education spending during his first term of less than $1 billion. Page 69 rights, and caring for the state's fragile environment. But he is none of those things. He has eviscerated the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, firing scores of experienced stewards of the public lands and replacing them with industry toadies who are ready to sell what is left of our waterways and pastoral lands to the highest bidder. He has demonized state workers in general, and teachers in particular, as leeches on the collective body of the state, siphoning off hard-earned tax dollars he intimated they used for their "plush" lifestyles. And he besmirched these workers further by requiring them all to submit to random drug tests, a folly prudently Undoubtedly, Scott is sowing the seeds for blocked by the courts. his 2014 campaign, when he will harvest the He has steadfastly refused to allow Florida's sound bites and fudged data to make the case participation in the Affordable Care Act, sacthat he deserves a second term, a case to be rificing billions of dollars in federal assistance vigorously prosecuted by another massive to implement the programs, and potentially commitment from his vast personal wealth. costing hospitals — and their paying patients But are Floridians to fall for this scam twice? — even more billions by denying a needed exFortunately, Scott's approval ratings are so pansion of the Medicaid program. low that even a majority of Republicans hope He has backed away from his pledge to crethat someone else bests him in the primary. ate 700,000 new jobs in addition to those a reCharlie Crist, the former Republican govercovering state economy would create anyway. nor who recently became a Democrat, is pollHe fudges the job creation numbers to make ing 14 points ahead of Scott in a theoretical his record appear better than it is, but when matchup between the two. unemployment data indicate he is not makTo counter this, Rick Scott is hoping voters in ing much progress, he dismisses the figures Florida will believe he is in favor of expanding as "federal numbers." Of course, his recent government, increasing education spending, choice to head the Department of Economhelping voters to exercise their constitutional ic Opportunity, a very important post when

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