The day after winning the election, Scott announced that Florida was "open for business." He wasn't kidding.

In the budget proposal he made public in February, he suggested lowering the state's corporate income tax rate by 2.5 percent, or $459 million. But an ounce of sanity prevailed in the Legislature, and in May, Scott was forced to settle for a measly $30 million cut. This translated to an average savings of about $1,100 a year for small businesses, although it also gives tax breaks to larger corporations.

Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature were far less generous to the state's legions of laid-off workers. Florida already has some of the most meager unemployment benefits in the nation — $229 a week — and now those sparse checks will end sooner, after 23 weeks instead of 26. Even more frightening, in the future, benefits will be tied to the unemployment rate, decreasing as the jobless rate goes down.

Yes, you read that correctly. If more people have jobs and are paying taxes, unemployment benefits will go down. For example, when the state unemployment rate is at or below 5 percent, the unfortunate few without jobs can collect unemployment for only 12 weeks. If the Florida unemployment rate reaches or exceeds 10.5 percent (as of May, it was at 10.6 percent), laid-off workers can collect their full 23 weeks of benefits.

This slap in the face to jobless workers was accompanied by a 10 percent cut in the unemployment tax paid by businesses. Thoughtful, no?

Shuns Emails, Reporters, and the Sunshine Law

Rick Scott doesn't hide his disdain for Florida's open government laws. In February, he invited three powerful state Senate leaders to his mansion for a private dinner. They discussed, among other topics, his budget proposal.

This was strange, because when three senators gather to discuss legislative business, Senate rules require the meeting to be open to the public. But the citizens of Florida didn't get a dinner invitation.

In March, Scott scheduled a coffee date with ten legislators. When a Miami Herald reporter inquired about who would be attending and what the politicians would discuss, Scott's spokesman snapped at him, saying the event was "purely social." Then he canceled the coffee date.

Scott, meanwhile, told workers at the Department of Elderly Affairs that he doesn't use email — which is a convenient way to avoid creating a public record of his conversations.

"I don't have email," he said in March. "It's easier if I never get emailed. I get embarrassed by it that way. It's not as easy to communicate."

Before publishing this article, New Times called Scott's press office three times to request an interview. On the third phone call — 11 days after the original request — Scott's press secretary gave a nonanswer.

"We have received your multiple requests, and if we can accommodate that, someone will let you know," Lane Wright said.

But clearly, no one had let us know. Instead, a government spokesman — whose entire job is to answer questions from the public — was employing the silent treatment. "We are not gonna be commenting for this story," Wright finally conceded.

Shocking.

Slashed Public Education Funding

Public schools lost about $542 per student in this year's education budget — an 8 percent funding cut that wouldn't seem so troubling if it weren't accompanied by so many other changes to the education system.

Florida teachers, already some of the lowest-paid in the nation, will now see their raises and job security tied to students' test scores. They will be fired if their annual evaluations are "unsatisfactory" two years in a row, and they will have to contribute 3 percent to their pension funds, a change they consider a pay cut. The merit pay bill, known as the Student Success Act, was a top priority for Scott and was the first to get his signature in March.

Maribah Haughey, a retired teacher who spent 21 years in Palm Beach County schools, was livid about the pay cuts. "All of this is going to drive a lot of young teachers out of Florida," she said. "The salaries suck anyway. What are they making, $30,000 a year?"

Meanwhile, virtual charter schools — which are privately run and publicly funded — were approved under a "Digital Learning" bill that also requires all students to take one online course before graduating. In addition, high-performing charter schools got a break on the fees they must pay to school districts. After signing these school-choice bills in June, Scott promoted them in private and charter schools across the state, telling reporters he now wants to create savings accounts that allow parents to pull their kids out of public schools and pay for private school instead.

Yes, it seems Scott would rather invest taxpayer money in private and charter schools — which are now, thanks to his policy reforms, subject to less public oversight — instead of trying to help the struggling public classrooms where most kids spend their days.

Gutted Environmental Protection Programs

While campaigning for governor, Scott called the Department of Community Affairs, the state agency charged with overseeing local development projects, a "jobs killer." He said he'd heard complaints that development permits were issued too slowly. (That building boom? It was a myth.)

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16 comments
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Donna Bird
Donna Bird

You got to read this Article again, oh my goodness, I am become even more speechless- Why in the world did any one voted for these group of idioits. They used FEAR, and this FEAR, should be sued for Bulley people to believe a felon, he is a felon even though he is not convicted.

huweiwei
huweiwei

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WakeUp
WakeUp

Wow, surprised at the morons supporting the worst governor in the county.  I guess there are plenty of tea party rednecks that don't know what's good for them.  The uber-wealthy are using your ignorance to further their self interests.  If you're making under $200,000 a year, they aren't on your side...

Harv
Harv

Eric is really taking this paper down. What a rag it's become. It's amazing he can find someone willing to write this crap.

Jhop052
Jhop052

Ha ha... Go gov. Scott! Keep taking down these communist scum lib-tards!!!! Gotta love dumb-ass lisas' comment about sending the $400 million back to congress to solve???, the fed. Budget crisis...I guess that didn't work either??? Hey lib-tard Lisa.....we still have a budget crisis you stupid bitch!!! Go to hell you commie moron!!!

PROUD_TEXAN
PROUD_TEXAN

Whaaaa! Whaaaa! Whaaaa!

Nice socialist propaganda hit piece Lisa.

Aalan
Aalan

What's to be proud of PROUD_TEXAN? Rick Perry? Another idiot governor.

Burt Scholl
Burt Scholl

This gives some small idea of the extent to which the people of Florida have been afflicted by this vicious regime

Theresa Reynolds
Theresa Reynolds

Great article Lisa!   Scott is a slime ball...and those who voted for him - should accept responsibility for the deplorable condition our state is in.   Think before you vote you idiots!

Glen in Glendale
Glen in Glendale

You're right, Brickell, he's terrific, and the 71% of people who would vote for a ham sandwich over Rick Scott are all idiots. We should have just interviewed you for the article.

Voiceless in Brickell
Voiceless in Brickell

I posted a comment an hour ago that was critical of the level of bias and lack of objectivity in the article above. There was nothing inappropriate but it was nonetheless removed. The article was written provocatively was it not? If not, the refusal to acknowledge bias is a feat deserving of applause.

Middle Class Floridian
Middle Class Floridian

Lisa, I commend you on such a brave article...you are my hero.  Finally, someone is not afraid to speak out about our beloved governor.  I loved every bit of it.  I only hope the next great article you publish will be about this Ricktatorship falling apart and impeachment has been enacted or maybe the chance to recall this governor has finally been approved.It is a sad time when the horrible things that Dick Scott does to the middle class Floridians is no longer a surprise; yet when he does something nice “for the people,” I find myself wondering what’s in it for him.

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Singling out Florida may not be fair. There is a fairly proportionate array of dumb ass voters  nationwide. i.e. Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, et al are some prime examples. Check out those governors. I will grant you that Ricky boy has done more damage to the most residents in the shortest time span possible. Now the same voters base that gave him 54 % has decided they don't like him to the tune of a mid 20 % approval rate. WTF happened? Morons is the best I can label them.

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