Gov. Scott touts Economy, Democratic lawmakers bite back
In his State of the State speech yesterday in front of the Florida Legislature, Governor Rick Scott said that his economic policies are working.
Scott said that when he took office, he was faced with high unemployment and “crippling debt,” but due to the hard work of Florida’s lawmakers, the state’s financial outlook has turned around.
“Our businesses are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and our unemployment rate is nearly down to the national average; and we aren’t stopping there. It’s working.”
While Scott sounded enthused about Florida’s future, his political counterparts feel differently.
Representative Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, released a response to Scott’s speech, calling his efforts to improve education “window dressing.”
“Governor Scott has cut more than a billion dollars from education while giving tax breaks to big corporations. He has the wrong priorities on education, jobs, land and water usage, and voting rights.”
Since his election as governor in 2010, Scott has faced constant criticism of his policies and approach to politics. During his first Legislative session, Scott and state Republicans cut over $1 billion from Florida’s education fund and overhauled the state’s pension plan.
The pension overhaul forced public employees to place three percent of their salaries in the Florida Retirement System, something that was seen as a pay cut by many.
As he’s moved closer to the center after starting out so far right, Scott is now proposing a pay hike for teachers and a tuition freeze. These are all moves that will aid in improving Scott’s position with Florida voters as his poll numbers were a dismal 33 percent last January.
While Democrats are banking on Scott’s poll numbers to remain soft through 2014, they should take into account the budget surplus the state has for the first time in five years.
That extra money is due to Scott’s policies as Florida’s economic fortune has improved since he’s been in the governor’s mansion. The way we got there can be disputed because Scott and the Republican led House and Senate have cut education spending and infrastructure projects.
Dems may be able to argue that the surplus is a good thing, but the state’s current condition is bad due to the draconian cuts put forth by Republicans.