The economy was in freefall when Rick Scott rode to the governor’s mansion in 2010. Unemployment was high and the outlook for anything better was uncertain. Scott brought a singular focus to Tallahassee: create jobs.
Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
By most measures, he has been successful in what he set out to do. Through a series of large tax breaks for corporations and incentives to attract outside businesses to the state, Florida’s economy is doing much better. Voters must have thought so, too. Scott was re-elected last year to a second term.
Being governor should more, though, than bragging about the number of taxes that have been cut or jobs that have been created. Of course, creating jobs is and should be a top priority, but Scott has shown no interest for anything else.
This is the utopia he wants and has worked unceasingly to create. It’s a state where business is unburdened by things like regulations and taxes. The poor are left to fend for themselves. If they can’t, too bad.
Scott has proposed record public-school funding, but his attempts to fix the state’s bloated standardized testing program made a bad situation worse. He said he favored expanding health care programs for the needy when he was on the campaign trail, while simultaneously eviscerating the state’s safety net.
He doesn’t care about the environment. Scott wants to open state parks to cattle grazing and timber mining and has gutted many regulations that protect the land. The prison system is a mess. People filing for unemployment have shared stories about what a humiliating experience the state made that out to be.
Still, the governor wants to keep cutting and keep giving tax breaks.
It’s like that’s all he knows how to do.
Now he wants $1 billion in additional corporate tax cuts, promising the state manufacturing summit conference last month in Palm Beach that it would be really good for everyone.
“Here’s what they’ll see — they’ll absolutely see an impact on their lives because they’re going to see more jobs,” The Palm Beach Post reported. “They’re going to see a diversified economy. They’re going to see that the state’s in a better position the next time there’s a national recession.”
Forget for a moment that most of the newly created jobs don’t pay much and look at the real effect of the proposal.
When the state reduces its income through tax breaks, something else has to be cut. Recently, the Miami Herald presented a different slant on what those reductions mean to Florida.
The newspaper reported that more than 9,000 sick kids have been purged from the state’s health-care program under a so-called screening tool to establish need.
The Herald told of a 6-year-old boy who is nearly blind, can read only in Braille, and walks with a cane. He was able to receive specialized care under the state’s Children’s Medical Services program for the last two years to preserve what little remains of his eyesight. The state, however, kicked him out of the program, deciding he was “not clinically eligible.”
If Scott gets all the corporate breaks he wants, he would help pay for it by eliminating more than 700 medical positions beyond what already has been cut. How many more kids on an overburdened system will be declared not clinically eligible?
The argument goes that reducing the burden on business is good because it creates jobs, and Florida’s unemployment rate in October was 5.1 percent, down six points from when Scott was first elected.
However, it doesn’t appear that many of those new jobs carry benefits; 16.57 percent of Florida residents have no health insurance. Only Texas and Alaska have higher rates. The state ranks 46th in the country for the number of uninsured children at 9.34 percent.
What’s the governor doing about that?
From all appearances, nothing.
Even worse, he doesn’t seem to care.