Rick Scott’s budget doesn’t make any cents 

As polling numbers dwindle, the governor races to craft a new math

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JUST THE STATS

 

$74.2 BILLION

SIZE OF GOV. RICK SCOTT’S 2014-2015 “IT’S YOUR MONEY TAX CUT BUDGET” PROPOSAL AS INTRODUCED JAN. 29 TO FLORIDA LEGISLATORS AND THE MEDIA

 

$542 MILLION

PROPOSED INCREASE IN STATE FUNDING OF K-12 SCHOOLS, AMOUNTING TO APPROXIMATELY $169 MORE PER STUDENT

 

$678 MILLION

PROPOSED BUDGET CUTS TO THE FLORIDA AGENCY FOR HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION, BECAUSE THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WILL NO LONGER PROVIDE FEDERAL DOLLARS TO MEDICAID-FRIENDLY DOCTORS THIS YEAR, EVEN AS THE GOVERNOR HAS REFUSED $51 BILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDS FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION UNDER THE ACT

 

“FLORIDA WAS IN A HOLE, AND FOR FOUR YEARS, THERE WAS JUST MORE DIGGING. TODAY, ALL THAT HAS CHANGED.”
– GOV. RICK SCOTT
SOURCE: TAMPA BAY TIMES

NOT YOUR MONEY

Quick, somebody yank the fiscal responsibility emergency brake! Gov. Rick Scott has finally revealed the entirety of his “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” – after creating a terrible logo and setting his press team on a slow information drip for the past month or so – and it’s full of the exact smoke and mirrors you might expect from a governor with flagging polling and a bad reputation for honesty. Though he didn’t make the big reveal in the closed quarters of the Villages while being circled by the golf-cart wagons of elderly Tea Party enthusiasts (sooooo 2011), his message retained his characteristic obfuscation along with that sort of gloating peculiar to people who refer to their own actions as “historic” while everyone else in the room makes coughing noises.

We’ve been informing you of Scott’s “It’s Your Money” and “It’s Working” hashtaggability for some time now: Everything from the Everglades to the elderly to the environment has been getting special mention for your pocketbook interests. But the most controversial of Scott’s obsessions has come, once again, in his neither-here-nor-there interest in “public” education; the quote marks come mostly because the governor has rarely delineated between public schools and charter schools when he’s either chopping $3 billion in education spending or beefing it up by $1 billion each year since. Who’s counting?

Well, apparently the governor isn’t. Though this year’s budget aims to increase K-12 spending by $542 million, much of that increase isn’t coming from that elusive $846 million budget surplus that the governor has been waving like a dollar-bill flag for the past forever. In fact, it’s coming from property value increases, which begat increases in property tax collections, which means $375 million of that grand educational gesture is coming from a tax increase, which is goblin-speak in conservative quarters. It’s your money, after all. Why aren’t you getting it back?

It’s a tax increase,” Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times.

But that’s not the only bad math coming from Scott’s budget mouth-parade, according to the Miami Herald. If you add up all of the promises that come with dollar signs in front of them – $500 million in tax and fee cuts, that $542 million education handout, $130 million for the Everglades and water issues, $55 million for the springs; $60 million for a sales-tax holiday for the kids he doesn’t give a damn about (and the corporations he does); and $31 million to cover the problems at the Department of Children and Families – you get a figure closer to $1.4 billion.

Also, none of the pie-in-the-skying going on here takes into account growing prison populations, skyrocketing Medicaid enrollment (just as the program is defunded by some $678 million thanks to anti-Obamacare posturing) and growing pension and benefit woes for state employees that are estimated to cost $51 million. So if you’re cutting everything while not paying for any of the cuts (except the first half of them you can afford), what does that make you? A bad candidate, apparently.

On Jan. 30, following a recent Public Policy poll that showed Scott nudging into within a few points of presumed Democratic opponent – and sweet-whinnying showpony – Charlie Crist, the latest Quinnipiac poll puts Scott 8 points down in the gubernatorial stakes, 46-38 for Crist. Forty-one percent think Scott’s doing a good job; 54 percent say he doesn’t deserve a second term. (Also, the mysterious woman who nobody wants to talk about, Democratic candidate Nan Rich, is in striking distance, just 4 points behind in a 41-37 spread).

“At least for now, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s comeback against his major Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, has stalled after considerably narrowing the Crist lead in 2013,” Quinnipiac University Polling Institute assistant director Peter Brown says in the most recent report. “And on several measurements, Crist gets higher grades from the Florida electorate.”

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