Rick Scott's Best Political Miscalculations
Staring down the barrel of what's sure to be a brutal campaign to stay in the governor's mansion beyond 2014, Rick Scott is pushing out a variety of campaigns that seem aimed at scoring points with weary voters.
On Wednesday Scott announced he's planning to give every public school teacher in Florida - good, bad or indifferent, a $2,500 raise.
The announcement runs contrary to his longtime positions of bringing business savvy to education. In 2011 Scott fulfilled a campaign promise and pushed a bill through Tallahassee tying teacher compensation to students' performance.
"We need to support our hard-working, dedicated teachers who understand the importance of getting good results," Scott said on his campaign website, according to Politifact. "A 'merit pay' plan would reward high-performing teachers and hold school administrators accountable, while under-performing teachers would be challenged to improve."
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We've compiled a short list of Gov. Scott's most memorable missteps so you won't forget what he's done once he hits the campaign trail.
5. Claiming implementing Obamacare would cost taxpayers $26 billion Scott held fast to the idea that Florida wouldn't implement President Obama's healthcare overhaul even after the Supreme Court upheld the law. While the federal government will implement online healthcare exchanges in states that refuse to do so, Scott argued that implementing parts of the bill, mainly a Medicaid expansion, would cost taxpayer's an eye-popping $26 billion. That figure, it turned out, was a massive overstatement provided by the state-run Agency for Health Care Administration and failed to account for the fact that the feds would cover most of the cost, according to Politifact. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated the cost at $1 billion between 2013 and 2022.
4. Rejecting more than $2 billion for high-speed rail Scott told Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to stuff $2.4 billion for a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa and Orlando right where the sun don't shine. Sure it wouldn't have posed any immediate benefit to South Florida, but the plan would've created thousands of jobs and lay the groundwork to connect the state's major population centers. Republican lawmakers rebuked the move and even former Gov. Jeb Bush was scratching his head.
3. Drug tests for everyone! Gov. Scott successfully pushed through a campaign to drug test all recipients of state welfare. Early results showed that only two percent of those who applied for assistance after the law took effect in mid 2011 failed and that the program, which was supposed to save money, ended up costing more than $100,000. The program was shut down after four months. When Scott sought to begin drug testing state employees the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit and a federal judge in April 2012 ruled testing all 85,000 state employees was unconstitutional.
2. Championing Early Voting Hey, remember that time South Florida became the laughing stock of the nation in the midst of a presidential election? OK, there were a lot of times, but most recently Florida elicited jokes from around the country for voting lines with hundreds of people waiting hours on end to try to cast their ballot. Even the reliably conservative Drudge Report called out Scott for cutting early voting from 14 to eight days in 2011 and now calling for the largest amount of early voting in the state's history. Perhaps the lines at the polls won't be as long in 2014, but Scott's hoping your memory is short.
1. The 7-7-7 Campaign What kind of egomaniacal sociopath runs for a four-year term with promises and programs that would last seven? Scott ran on a platform of creating 700,000 jobs in the state over seven years through cutting taxes and regulation. After becoming governor and learning things don't run quite as smoothly in the healthcare industry, even with a Justice Department investigation, Scott is now backpedaling, promising only 700,000 jobs total as opposed to those jobs on top of what economists had initially predicted. Late last year he tried to silence a Bloomberg reporter who argued Florida's falling unemployment rate was due to people dropping out of the workforce and not job creation.
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