Florida Watch Action Takes on Rick Scott’s Donut Stunt

First off, check out their video:

Next, they sent out the following:

Dear Editor and Editorial Board:

As the Governor embarks on “workdays” to try and improve his image, middle class Floridians wonder when their workdays will begin again.

We thought we would take a moment to summarize the job-killing, anti-middle class policies that he has prioritized during the first seven months of his administration and how they are leading Florida into worse economic times.

Florida remains at number four in the nation for highest unemployment and the prospect of job creation under the policies supported by the Governor is dim at best.

Among the worst are the Governor’s rejection of federal funding for job creating projects and social service programs, his attacks on state and public safety workers, and his utter refusal to understand the effect that draconian budget cuts will have on employment.

We urge you to hold the Governor accountable for these policies and try to make him understand the real effect these laws are having on Florida’s middle class families.

Please find below a summary of the issues that are facing middle class Floridians and the effect this Governor’s policies are having on their lives.

Rejecting of federal funding

A recent The New York Times article highlights the losses in health care and other services that make middle class Floridians’ lives even harder during a tough economy. Gov. Scott seems to prioritize a political agenda over the needs of his constituents when he not only turns down funding but fails to go after funding for programs such as helping abused and neglected children and authorizing community health centers.

Opposing the Health Law, Florida Refuses Millions – The New York Times

“Despite having the country’s fourth-highest unemployment rate, its second-highest rate of people without insurance and a $3.7 billion budget gap this year, the state has turned away scores of millions of dollars in grants made available under the Affordable Care Act. And it is not pursuing grants worth many millions more.

In recent months, either Gov. Rick Scott’s administration or the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature has rejected grants aimed at moving long-term care patients into their homes, curbing child abuse through in-home counseling and strengthening state regulation of health premiums. They have shunned money to help sign up eligible recipients for Medicare, educate teenagers on preventing pregnancy and plan for the health insurance exchanges that the law requires by 2014.

While 36 states shared $27 million to counsel health insurance consumers, Florida did not apply for the grants. And in drafting this year’s budget, the Legislature failed to authorize an $8.3 million federal grant won by a county health department to expand community health centers.”

As you have widely reported, the Governor also rejected over $2 billion in funding for high-speed rail, costing Florida over 40,000 jobs in a time when unemployment is at double digits. Additionally, the Governor has turned down funding such as:

? $50 million in funds for abused and neglected children;
? $60 million in funds for health care rebates under the ACA;
? Gov. Scott only accepted $30 million of the $1 billion possible settlement with BP for the gulf oil spill disaster.

Insult is added to injury when those same Floridians who are facing unemployment, and therefore, a loss of health care and other benefits, can no longer turn to the state to help them through a difficult time because of Gov. Scott’s philosophical opposition to taking federal money. Much of the funds made available to Florida will go to other states whose governors do not possess such a philosophy.

Attacks on government and public safety workers

Gov. Scott’s relentless attack on government and public safety workers has led to layoffs in the public sector, the likes of which Florida hasn’t seen in over a decade.

Almost 5,000 state government employee full-time positions have been eliminated:

? 1,215 from Department of Juvenile Justice;
? 933 from the Department of Children and Families;
? 1,602 from the State Personnel System in Lee County;
? 549 from the State Personnel System in Collier County;
? 827 from the State Personnel System in Charlotte County;
? 1,000 Pinellas County teachers;
? 1,200 Pasco County teachers;
? 1,400 Broward County teachers.

The Governor seems to think that these layoffs won’t affect the private sector but when one realizes that consumer-oriented business relies on demand, the bleak economic outlook for these counties starts to come into focus.

Adding to these already bleak economic conditions in these counties is Gov. Scott’s passage of a 3 percent pay cut delivered to public workers on July 1st. The amount of money taken out of the local economy is sure to have a ripple effect on local businesses whose livelihoods depend on consumer demand. The localized effect of the 3% cut in the major Florida counties is as follows:

? Miami-Dade: $53.7 million
? Broward: $38.7 million
? Hillsborough: $30.8 million
? Leon: $28.5 million
? Palm Beach: $27.9 million
? Orange: $25.7 million
? Duval: $18.7 million
? Pinellas: $17.5 million
? Lee: $11.7 million
? Sarasota: $7.8 million

Draconian Budget Cuts

As the new fiscal year kicks off, the reality of Gov. Scott’s draconian budget cuts are coming home to roost. Teacher layoffs began in June in anticipation of the funding cuts but more are likely to continue as school begins and school districts begin to reconcile their budgets.

Additionally, as the municipalities struggle with declining revenues due to unemployment, high numbers of foreclosures, a lack of transportation funds, cuts to water management district (thereby resulting in fewer storm water projects), and cuts to public hospitals, there are likely to be even more layoffs.

Gov. Scott is doing his best to sell Floridians on the fact that he is creating jobs. He is pointing to the 85,500 jobs that were recently gained in the state but he fails to mention what policies he enacted, what outreach he has done to specifically bring about these jobs. He also fails to admit that economists have credited much of that job creation to the national economic climate.

Sources:
The New York Times, 7/31/11 – Opposing the Health Law, Florida Refuses Millions

Miami Herald, 7/21/11 – “Florida rejects child-abuse prevention funds tied to health care law

Central Florida News 13, 7/25/11 – “Florida seeks waiver from health care rebate mandate

Tampa Bay Fox News affiliate, 3/10/11 – “Scott dismisses attorney for BP claims

St. Petersburg Times, 3/21/11 – “Is state still trying to collect from BP?”

Florida state layoffs: Biggest work-force shake up begins, 6/27/11

Teacher layoffs hit Fla. counties , 5/6/11

Schools of education thriving despite the market, 7/30/11

3% Payroll cut estimates by Florida Education Association (FEA) and the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Also: Check out my post on the topic at Crooks and Liars

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