So, our tireless lawmakers finally came to an agreement on the state's budget yesterday. More than anything, it serves as a validation that Gov. Rick Scott is completely clueless. Sen. Mike Fasano actually called Scott clueless a few weeks ago, but he was talking about the governor's plans to eliminate state-funded property insurance even though private insurers admit they can't possibly absorb the entire fallout. Scott has left no shortage of examples to support the assertion that he's clueless, but the state budget is the most glaring. He makes the Legislature look sensible in the same way that Glenn Beck made the rest of Fox seem centrist.
Scott wanted $1.7 billion in tax and fee cuts. And he threatened to veto the budget if he didn't at least get a $458 million corporate tax cut. In the end, he got a total of $308 million in tax relief and a measly little $30 million corporate tax cut. The gap between Scott's proposals and the final budget shows just how far off his vision of governance is from reality.
But Scott was a good sport. He didn't bitch and moan about barely getting an eighth of what he wanted. The reality check still didn't deter his plans to completely scrap the corporate tax, which raises almost $2 billion a year.
"My plan was to phase it out over seven years," Scott told a reporter. "We're still going to get there."
On the same day that he talked about eliminating billions in revenue, the Associated Press reported that Scott was disappointed with a judge's decision to raise Florida's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to a whopping $7.31 an hour. What nerve! The state Legislature gave him a swift, fiscal kick to the nuts, and as soon as he catches his breath, he has to eat an hourly increase of 6 cents to the minimum wage. With a budget that slashes public school funding by $540 per student, who knows how many future minimum wage workers will make that extra 6 cents an hour. If they put in 40-hour workweeks, they'll earn an extra $128 a year. Shit, that would scare every employer out of Florida forever.
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That's Scott's whole argument. Jobs, jobs, jobs. That's what he and most of the state's lawmakers campaigned on. Well, where the hell are these jobs? This entire legislative session was wasted on handjobs to the gun lobby, anti-abortion bills, and targeted disenfranchisement. Why? Because legislating is just another part of endless campaigning.
That's not the only reason. How many jobs were created by trying to implement mandatory drug testing for state employees and welfare recipients? If the measures didn't increase employment, they most probably boosted the value of Solantic, the clinic that Scott sold after the drug-testing frenzy sparked conflict-of-interest speculation. Scott would say only that he sold his stake in Solantic for less than the $62 million he said it was worth during his campaign. Now, I'm no expert on investing in private companies, but if the value of Solantic was already declining, wouldn't the mere possibility of a state contract for massive drug testing add some value to the company? Or do such seasoned businessmen disregard stuff like that?