Spending’s Gotta Give
Governor Rick Scott
Last week, the Palm Beach Post carried two stories on the same day. The headlines were: 1) “Scott seeks tax cuts despite budget strained by Irma”; 2) “Why good teachers quit.”
You know the elections are drawing nigh when politicians start talking tax cuts. Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, whose term is up
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
Ah yes, tax cuts. Everybody loves them, especially Republican politicians, who dislike deficit spending. It presents a case of the irresistible force against the immovable object. As the old song says, “Something’s gotta give.”
Oh, cut it out!
That something, of course, is spending. But what do you cut? That’s easy: services to those with the least money and influence. Under Scott, a big source of spending reductions has been on Medicaid, which poor and disabled folks are dependent on. They’re too busy trying to survive to worry much about politics, so they’re easy to manipulate, and don’t make it to the voting polls in numbers as great as the rest of the population.
Another important way in which Scott and the Republican Legislature have kept spending down is by depriving Florida’s educational system of needed funds. Public school teachers make about $9,000 a
Legislator Janet Cruz
“The right thing to do is to just give teachers a raise,” she said at the beginning of the Legislature’s session in the spring. “It is embarrassing and I am ashamed that Florida pays our teachers $10,000 a year less than the national average. We are one of the largest states in the country. If we continue to recruit and retain the most talented people to educate our children, it starts with paying them a wage that they can live on without working a second job.”
That brings us to the Post feature story, “Why good teachers quit.” The focus of the piece is excessive testing, which drives teachers to distraction and hinders their ability to teach. But it also refers to the problem of large classes, which result from insufficient funds to hire enough teachers.
Another result of niggardly spending is inadequate facilities. The writer, a teacher, wrote: “We also have so many people using the restroom between classes that we frequently struggle to have enough water pressure to flush the toilets and wash our hands, and the air conditioning breaks down too frequently – try taking all those tests in a 90-degree room.
But Scott appears unconcerned about such problems. He has boasted: “Over the past seven years, we have worked relentlessly to turn around Florida’s economy, and the results are clear.”
It’s not surprising that he made no mention of the steadily improving economy of the entire nation over that same period. To do so would have been to concede that his measures have played a minor, if any, role in that progress.
Scott is made from the same cloth as the guy he admires, President Donald Trump. But Trump’s poll numbers are at record lows, and the otherwise crafty (and some would say crooked; see Scott’s cheating of Medicare as a hospital head) governor may be riding the pres’s coattails to defeat. Unless, of course, Florida voters who think they’re voting in their own interests once again do the opposite.