Scott Powers - SaintPetersBlog

Scott Powers

Marco Rubio, bipartisan Senate group call for U.S. help for starving North Africa

After a hearing on a humanitarian crisis with millions of lives at stake in northeast Africa, U.S. Rep. Marco Rubio joined a bipartisan group of senators Thursday asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to intervene by leading an “urgent and comprehensive” diplomatic effort.

Rubio and eight other senators signed a letter Thursday to President Donald Trump‘s secretary of state saying that political obstacles in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are significantly to blame for humanitarian aid from getting in, and consequently millions of people now are starving to death.

“The scale and complexity of these crises might lead some to say the situation is hopeless,” states the senators’ letter to Tillerson. “We reject such a response as U.S. leadership can make an enormous difference, and we believe the Department of State can and should lead a diplomatic effort now to reduce the political barriers that are hindering the delivery of food to millions of starving people. The U.S. government has a strategic and moral imperative to do nothing less.”

Rubio was joined by Republicans Todd Young of Indiana, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Jeff Flake of Arizona; and Democrats Ben Cardin of Maryland, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Chris Coons of Delaware.

All of them including Rubio serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which held a hearing on the situation Wednesday. Rubio stated that he also received a briefing on the crisis from billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates earlier this week.

The senators’ letter suggests up to 20 million people are at risk of starving to death.

“The testimony of the witnesses underscored the urgent need for a ‘diplomatic surge’ in the next couple weeks to prevent millions of people from dying unnecessarily from starvation,” the letter opens. “Consistent with the national security interests of the United States and the compassion of the American people, we write to ask that the Department of State implement an urgent and comprehensive diplomatic effort to address political obstacles in each of these regions that are preventing humanitarian aid from being delivered to people who desperately need it.

“Mr. Yves Daccord, the director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, yesterday called the crisis ‘one of the most critical humanitarian issues to face mankind since the end of the Second World War.’ He warned that ‘we are at the brink of a humanitarian mega-crisis unprecedented in recent history,'” the letter states.

The senators’ letter details how governmental or nongovernmental actors in each of the regions have blocked or hindered humanitarian access, depriving people of food. But it suggests the U.S. Department of State can potentially address the man-made obstacles and spells out steps that should be taken to convince each country to open the flows of food.

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Charlie Crist leads 18-member Florida delegation urging Everglades attention from Donald Trump

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast have pulled together 18 of Florida’s 27 members of Congress to co-sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging that he “expedite and energize” Everglades restoration projects.

In addition to Crist of St. Petersburg and Mast of Palm City, the letter is signed by Republicans Matt Gaetz, Neal Dunn, Ted Yoho, John Rutherford, Ron DeSantis, Bill Posey, Daniel Webster, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Tom Rooney, Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; and Democrats Al Lawson, Darren Soto, Val Demings, and Kathy Castor.

The letter follows up on a plea Mast made earlier this month on the House of Representatives floor when he called on Trump to create an “Everglades Restoration Infrastructure Taskforce” and secure full funding to accelerate projects to completion.

The letter calls for the same thing.

“We urge you to join our efforts to expedite and energize the federal government’s role in this critical mission,” they wrote. “Specifically, we ask you to convene an ‘Everglades Restoration Infrastructure Taskforce’ to develop an action plan to secure new infrastructure funding and accelerate project completion to meet or beat the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ current Integrated Delivery Schedule timeline.”

The letter’s non-signatories include some significant omissions: Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alcee Hastings, and Republican U.S. Reps. Francis Rooney and Maria Diaz-Balart all have significant swathes of Everglades in their districts, but did not sign. Still, much of the Everglades are in Curbelo’s and Ros-Lehtinen’s districts, and they signed.

The letter noted Trump’s plans for a $1 trillion infrastructure program and said the Everglades need just “a fraction” of that.

“The bipartisan Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, authorized by Congress in 2000, is one of the most ambitious ecological restoration projects ever undertaken. Beyond restoring the unique Everglades ecosystem, CERP would improve vital flood protection for neighboring communities, protect the main source of drinking water for 8 million South Floridians, and enhance the Everglades’ substantial $2 trillion economic impact in the state,” the letter states. “Working together, the State of Florida, the Army Corps, and other federal agency partners have made important — but incremental — progress toward meeting the Plan’s Integrated Delivery Schedule road map of completing over 60 proposed projects over a 30-year period.

“More must be done, however, as many projects are still awaiting construction, and delays could threaten to increase project completion costs,” they add.

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Few warm greetings from Florida for Donald Trump’s budget

There seems to be something for almost everyone to dislike in the budget proposal President Donald Trump unveiled Thursday morning.

“The plan doesn’t make any sense,” stated Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

“I do not support the proposed 28 percent cut to our international affairs budget and diplomatic efforts led by the State Department,” stated Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The president’s proposed budget, released early Thursday, drew a handful of responses from Florida’s 27 members of House of Representatives, mostly from Democrats, and most of them went much further than Nelson in their condemnations, citing proposed deep cuts ranging from the arts to the Coast Guard, cancer research to the TSA, or schools to seniors’ programs like Meals on Wheels, jobs training to Everglades.

“The Trump budget is an immoral affront to nearly all of our most important priorities,” declared Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

So far only Republican U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross in Florida’s congressional delegation has spoken out in strong support, though Rubio did point out something he liked in the budget: Trump’s incorporation of Rubio’s ideas to expand school choice with tax credits. But the senator cautioned to not take Trump’s budget too seriously, because, “it is Congress that will actually set the nation’s policy priorities and fund them.

“I will continue to review all the details of this budget proposal for areas of common interest,” he concluded.

Ross, of Lakeland, said the budget was true to Trump’s promises and a snapshot of “a strong conservative vision for the size and role of our government.”

“In addition to a renewed focus on the military, this proposed budget keeps the President’s word to prioritize border security, veterans’ health care, and school choice, as well as reduce burdensome regulations that harm small businesses and economic growth,” Ross continued. “With our national debt quickly approaching $20 trillion, we cannot afford to waste any more taxpayer dollars on duplicative and ineffective government programs.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart took a similar tone to Rubio, saying the budget “attempts to focus on our nation’s real fiscal challenges” and presents an opportunity for conversations about national priorities and the national debt.

Then he concluded, “I look forward to Congress exercising its oversight role and ultimately making funding decisions.”

Not many areas of common interest were cited by Florida’s 12 Democrats, including Nelson.

“You’re going to cut some of our most important agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, which is working to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s, the Environmental Protection Agency, which keeps our air and water clean, and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is working to restore the Everglades,” Nelson stated. “I agree that we must do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe, but cutting all of these important programs to pay for things, such as a wall, just doesn’t make any sense.”

In a Facebook post, Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando called Trump’s proposal an “irresponsible budget which decimates investments in America’s future to fund tax cuts for the rich. He proposed cuts to our Coast Guard (border security?), scientific research, commerce, state department, environment protection, agriculture and our nuclear program among countless others. We will fight to protect our future!”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg declared “Budgets are statements of our values as a people. The statement made today by the Trump Administration is that climate change isn’t real, our environment is not important, diplomacy is a waste of time, medical breakthroughs aren’t beneficial, the poor are on their own, and the arts, despite their small price tag, aren’t of significance.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa went into far more detail, arguing from the start that the budget fails to deliver on Trump’s campaign promises to help the middle class and create jobs.

She cited deep or complete cuts in after-school programs, college students’ PELL grants, transportation projects such as Tampa’s Riverwalk, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s efforts to improve marine biology health, and the EPA.

“It is clear that Trump’s budget is not balanced in a way that our community needs and expects.  It shifts even more economic burdens onto the shoulders of working families, guts important services and investments in our economy, attacks vital education programs and hurts Tampa Bay’s sensitive natural resources,” she concluded.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee said a budget should reflect society’s values, and that this budget does not reflect those of his district.

“President Trump’s budget calls for extreme cuts to vital funding for job training, clean energy, medical research, and public education,” Lawson stated. “It is a shortsighted plan that seeks to give tax breaks to the wealthiest while taking away lifelines for those who need it most.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando responded only by retweeting a post from Congressional Black Caucus chair U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who noted that African Americans “have a lot to lose under this administration” and the budget proposal “is proof.”

Wasserman Schultz provided the strongest language in her condemnations.

“Aside from the horrific health care cuts that will push tens of millions of people into higher-cost plans, or no coverage at all, this budget proposal sacrifices too many safety, environmental, labor and health protections, all just to ultimately deliver grotesque tax breaks to the wealthy,” she stated in a release issued by her office. “It weakens or eliminates funding for, among many other things, transportation, clean energy, health research, public education and housing, legal services, national diplomacy, the arts and humanitarian aid. And while Trump’s budget purports to improve our national security, it reportedly starves crucial aspects of it by putting our coasts and airports in dire jeopardy. This budget proposal is a gut punch to America’s families, their needs, and their values.”

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Vacation rental deregulation bill passes House committee

A bill that would roll back all local ordinances and regulations of vacation rental houses to 2011 codes got a split-vote approval Tuesday from the House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee.

The issue was fashioned as one pitting property rights — those of people or companies that buy houses and convert them into short-term vacation rental properties, versus those of neighbors who don’t like having small hotels pop up in their neighborhoods.

Senate Bill 425, presented by state Rep. Mike La Rosa of St. Cloud, would essentially ban cities and towns from treating vacation rental houses differently from any other houses in the neighborhoods. That was Florida law after a similar bill was signed in 2011, but much of that deregulation was rolled back in 2014 after cities and counties complained.

The ensuing regulation has gotten out of hand, La Rosa argued.

“We’ve seen an obscene amount of ordinances from local government, which basically, in my mind, is a property taking: You bought this property for a certain reason, but we’re going to pass all these ordinances preventing you from being able to rent that property.”

At stake is the rapid rise throughout Florida, but particularly in tourist areas, of single-home vacation rentals, fueled by such app-based advertising services as Airbnb and Home Away, which are funneling hundreds of thousands of Florida visitors into alternatives to hotels, motels and resorts. Alternatives typically with multiple bedrooms and baths, kitchens, yards and swimming pools.

Also at stake are cities and counties alarmed by vacation homes popping up anywhere, sometimes occupied for a few days at a time by quiet families from England, and sometimes by fraternity brothers looking for wild times with loud parties, lots of trash and numerous cars taking up the street curb.

Lori Killinger, a lobbyist for the Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association and Jennifer Green of the vacation rental advertising app Home Away argued that the regulations can stifle the tourism industry. Killinger said the vacation rental business is a $31 billion a year business, but that goes to one homeowner at a time. Green argued that visitors are looking for choices.

“Some individuals are making decisions about coming to Florida on whether or not they can stay with 15 people in six hotel rooms, or they can stay all together at the beach down in the Keys, or Pinellas County or somewhere similar,” Green said. “So the question for you all is do you want to do anything to stifle tourism for Florida?”

Homes turned into vacation rentals are not homes anymore, argued opponents of the bill, such as Florida Association of Counties lobbyist Eric Poole and Casey Cook of Florida League of Cities.

Flagler County attorney Al Hadeed told stories of fraternity parties, and of one house flooded with lights by some renters who were using it to film a pornographic movie.

The 2011 law, Hadeed said, “opened up real estate syndicates that created a hotel in single-family neighborhoods.”

He drew some support, notably from Democratic state Reps. Ben Diamond of St. Petersburg and Kamia Brown of Ocoee who argued that home rule should give deference to cities and counties to decide for themselves what to do about vacation rentals.

But La Rosa responded, and won, that they still can pass ordinances to control problems, but the ordinances need to address all houses, not just vacation rental houses.

“I’m saying treat vacation rentals like all other properties,” La Rosa responded. “Whether it’s a trash issue, a noise issue, or too many cars out on the street, treat rental properties like all properties.”

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Florida’s Congressional Dems blast GOP health care plan after budget report

As expected, the scoring of the Republican health care plan in Congress affirmed many of Democrats’ biggest warnings.

And, as expected, many of Florida’s delegation wasted no time Monday attacking the “American Health Care Act” as “wrong,” “inhumane,” “alarming,” and “ruthless and cruel.”

No word yet from any of Florida’s 17 Republican members of Congress on how they feel about the Congressional Budget Office legislative analysis of the bill Republicans introduced last week. Its aim is to replace “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act President Barack Obama and Democrats pushed through in 2010.

Democrats loaded up Monday at several of the CBO findings of the bill being dubbed both “RyanCare” for House Speaker Paul Ryan and “TrumpCare,” for President Donald Trump. The CBO reported that 14 million people would drop from being insured in the first year, and that a total of 24 million now covered would be without health insurance in a decade. The CBO also projected rapidly increasing premiums for the first couple of years, that it would cut $880 million from Medicaid, and increase costs for seniors on Medicare. And it reported that cuts to Planned Parenthood would mainly affect low-income women.

Almost all 12 Florida Democrats decried all those findings, through news releases, social media posts and statements on their websites. Among the responses:

“It is wrong to take away health insurance for 24 million people, as well as increase the cost to seniors,” wrote U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

“This legislation is terrible for those in their golden years, our seniors. And most distressing is how this bill treats the poor and the disabled of our society,” wrote U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, representing Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “The Gospel of Matthew teaches us that we will be judged by how we treat the ‘least of these.’ But this bill treats the least among us in the most inhumane way possible.”

“Biggest non-shocker of the week #Trumpcare knocks 24M people off insurance,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando, representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

“This report from the nonpartisan CBO confirms what we already knew to be true, millions of Americans will lose health insurance, hardworking families will be forced to pay higher premiums, and Medicaid recipients will suffer greatly,” declared U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando, representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District. “As Republicans recklessly work to push through this plan, the people who need it the most, working families, seniors, and children stand to lose the most. The GOP plan is not better than the Affordable Care Act and Republicans know it.”

“This bill does not make good on claims by @SpeakerRyan,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, representing Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. “It will block millions from coverage in exchange for cutting taxes for the wealthy.”

“Despite numerous promises by Trump that no one would lose health insurance, Republican scheme does just that!” tweeted U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, in Florida’s 14th Congressional District. “Irresponsible @SpeakerRyan!”

“Yanking insurance coverage from 14 million people and leaving them uninsured next year would be ruthless and cruel,” wrote U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, representing Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

“House Republican leaders are rushing this process with closed-door meetings and midnight committee sessions,” wrote U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, representing Florida’s 7th Congressional District. “We need to slow down, bring both parties together, and get health care reform right so there aren’t any unintended consequences that hurt families, seniors, and small businesses.”

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State attorney: Law enforcement to look into Andrew Gillum’s email

The office of State Attorney Jack Campbell in Tallahassee confirmed reports that he has advised Leon County or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into whether Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a newly announced Democratic candidate for governor, illegally used city software to send out campaign email.

“I can confirm there have been allegations; a complaint has been made. And that it has been referred to an investigative agency,” said Assistant State Attorney Eddie Evans of Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit.

The matter involves reports that have been breaking in the Tallahassee Democrat, starting last week, which say Gillum had used Tallahassee city property to send campaign email in his just-announced Democratic campaign for governor in 2018.

Campbell received a letter from someone (apparently on the Jefferson County Grand Jury) wanting to know what he would do about it. In a response letter dated Thursday and provided to FloridaPolitics.com through an open records request, Campbell replied:

“I am aware of the complaints concerning Mayor Gillum’s use of an email system and have recently spoken to the Leon County Sheriff and Tallahassee Police Department concerning an investigation of these allegations. I believe that either the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the Leon County Sheriff will do the investigation and then present their findings to me.”

After the first Tallahassee Democrat reports, Gillum acknowledged he conducted campaign correspondence on city property, called it a mistake, and said he was reimbursing the city for the costs.

Campbell made it clear he knows very little about the facts right now.

In his letter to the complainant — Paul Henry, whose address was redacted, which Campbell’s office cited as an open records exemption — Campbell declared:”I, like you, currently only know what I have learned from the media and the internet and would never base any decisions purely on those reports.”

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Bill Nelson, Mike Rounds warn of Russia, China cyberthreats

After a classified intelligence briefing for a newly-formed U.S. Senate panel on cyberterrorism, Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds issued a strong warning Wednesday.

Rounds, the chairman from South Dakota, and Nelson, the Ranking Democrat, issued a joint release acknowledging a “very serious” cyberattack by Russia on American elections and warning that American infrastructure is vulnerable.

The classified briefing before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Cyberterrorism Subcommittee took place Wednesday afternoon. Rounds and Nelson issued the following statement:

“We have to accept the fact that right now, countries like Russia and China can inflict serious damage on our critical infrastructure through cyberspace, despite our best efforts to defend ourselves. In order to protect ourselves as we build up our capabilities, we have to deter these countries by making the consequences of an attack so severe that they wouldn’t even consider attacking us in the first place.

“We have already suffered some very serious cyberattacks such as Russia’s recent interference in our elections and China and North Korea’s hacking of U.S. corporations on a near daily basis. Developing methods and plans to threaten what these countries value the most — in order to deter future attacks — is one of our top priorities.”

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Protests at Marco Rubio’s office say focus is on access, not booting him

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lost leases on his offices in Tampa and Jacksonville in part because of landlord’s impatience with the incessant barrage of protests out front.

Is Orlando next?

The plaza in front of the downtown Orlando office building housing Rubio’s Central Florida office was the site of another protest Tuesday, as it has been almost every Tuesday this year.

This time, it was For Our Future and other groups pressing a combination of state, local and federal liberal causes as part of the statewide Awake The State rallies.

The building itself was occupied by protesters for most of a day and night last July when more than a hundred people staged a sit-in, demanding that Rubio consider gun restrictions in response to the horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub just a couple miles away. Ten protesters were arrested for refusing to leave that night.

On Monday to the Florida Times-Union (and again Tuesday morning for FloridaPolitics.com), a Rubio spokeswoman in Jacksonville charged that the leases were yanked not because protesters were explicitly targeting the Republican senator but because they were targeting President Donald Trump,  using Rubio’s offices as a platform.

“For the second time in another major region of the state, the unruly behavior of some anti-Trump protesters is making it more inconvenient for Floridians to come to our local office to seek assistance with federal issues,” Christine Mandreucci asserted in a statement she had earlier provided to the Times-Union.

Orlando’s protesters aren’t entirely disputing that Rubio is not the primary target of their ire, but said as long as the senator refuses to respond to them they would assume he is doing nothing to address their concerns. Tuesday’s protest, for example, largely focused on state lawmakers and Trump, though most speakers called on Rubio to get involved in issues ranging from health care to Muslim bans, and from abortion to Israel.

“We would like to remind people like Marco Rubio who said that he would be a check on Donald Trump. He refuses to met with people, he refuses to have a town hall, he refuses to talk to us, so we’re holding it here,” said Mitch Emerson of For Our Future.

And they said they have no interest in causing the senator any problems with his landlord — Seaside Office Plaza is managed by Highwoods Properties.

“Truthfully, the one goal that I have, and the one goal that we have in general, is we would like our voices to be heard,” said Melanie Gold, a primary organizer of the Tuesday rallies.

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Democratic gubernatorial maybe Gillum, Graham, Levine maybes weigh in on Rick Scott speech

Three current or potential Democratic candidates for governor criticized Gov. Rick Scott‘s State of the State speech Tuesday for what he did not talk about, with Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine critical of low-wage jobs, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum of Scott’s reading of the Pulse nightclub massacre and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham his priorities.

Gillum, the first major Democrat to enter the 2018 gubernatorial race, blasted Scott’s speech Tuesday for not addressing two issues Democrats have tied to last year’s Pulse nightclub massacre: Gun law reform and support for the gay community.

“No mention of common sense gun law reforms, nor the continued discrimination against the LGBTQ community in @FLGovScott’s State of the State,” Gillum tweeted after the speech.

Graham also weighed in, criticizing Scott and other notable Republican leaders — led by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, though she did not mention names — for fighting with each other rather than working together for Florida.

Levine took Scott’s side in his battles with Corcoran over support for Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida, but said the governor is saying and doing little to attract good-paying jobs to Florida.

“Florida has clearly become a low-wage, high-cost state,” Levine said. “The governor didn’t offer any idea in how do we create good-paying jobs in our state. We get to tourism, and I’ll say it again. We love tourism. We love Disney World. But how can we make sure that all Floridians can visit Disney World, not just folks from outside the state?”

Before the speech, Gillum anticipated that with a prebuttal statement that said Floridians are looking for someone to champion “the issues and values that matter to us, and sadly Governor Scott will not and cannot rise to that level.”

Scott spent much of the opening minutes of his speech discussing the Pulse shooting, in which madman Omar Mateen, who declared he was inspired by ISIS and who avowed hatred of gays, killed 49 people and wounded 53 in Orlando’s popular gay nightclub last June 12. He spoke of meeting with families in the days that followed, and with police and other first responders, and praised Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Orlando Police Chief John Mina.

Yet Scott spoke, as many Republicans do, exclusively of Islamic terrorism behind the attack, not hatred of gays, which most Democrats refer to first.

Nor did the governor talk of any of the efforts by Orlando Democrats to call for restrictions on the rapid-fire assault rifle or the high-capacity ammunition magazines Mateen used, or address President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.

“We all join the governor in mourning the tragic mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub, but the governor continues to fail to put forward common-sense gun safety reforms we need to keep our communities safe,” Gillum stated in his prebuttal.

“Instead of standing up to President Trump on his unconstitutional Muslim ban or his immoral executive order on sanctuary cities, Governor Scott appears poised to be silent, even when our values are threatened.

“Times like these call for champions on the issues and values that matter to us, and sadly, Governor Scott will not and cannot rise to that level,” Gillum concluded.

“Rather than fighting for the people of Florida, Rick Scott and Republicans leaders are wasting time fighting each other,” Graham responded in a statement. “We need leaders who put the people of Florida before their own political self-interests.

“Through this session and every day at the state Capitol, the top priorities should be helping workers get ahead, protecting our environment and improving schools,” she added. “We need our leaders to fight for families, children and seniors — not fighting each other.”

Another announced candidate, Orlando businessman Chris King, has indicated he is declining public discussions until he formally launches his campaign April 1.

Orlando attorney John Morgan, who said he might run for governor but wouldn’t decide until late this year, said he did not hear Scott’s speech.

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Janet Cruz and Oscar Braynon slam quality of Rick Scott’s jobs

Democratic leaders Janet Cruz of the House of Representatives and Oscar Braynon of the Florida Senate slammed Gov. Rick Scott‘s primary focal point — jobs creation — Tuesday by arguing that the jobs he’s attracting are low-wage, low-benefit.

Scott boasted that Florida “is on the verge of becoming the job creation capital of the world!” and cited the 1.26 million private sector jobs added since he was elected in 2010, including 237,000 last year, in his annual State of the State address Tuesday.

“But let’s talk about the kind of jobs the governor is focused on creating because that’s the dirty little secret he wants to keep from you,” Cruz, of Tampa, responded.

“The governor, and Republican leadership in this state, want to create low-paying jobs that benefit the largest corporations because lower wages means higher profits for those at the top of the economic ladder,” she alleged in a written statement. “There’s no disputing the facts: Florida continues to lag behind the nation in median income for our families.”

Braynon, of Miami Gardens, took on the same theme early in his written response.

“Everyone needs work; everyone needs a job. The problem is the kind of jobs he’s been bringing home to Florida,” Braynon stated. “Because the majority of his jobs are great for teenagers, or someone just starting out, but not for someone with skills, with training, with a strong work history, or a family to support.

“They’re not the kind of jobs that let you save for that new car, that down payment on a new house, or your kid’s future education,” he continued. “They’re not the kind of jobs that invest in the people. And it’s that commitment to investing in the people that’s been missing from too many areas in the seven years since Governor Scott first took office.”

The two Democratic leaders in the Florida Legislature did not stop with criticism of Scott’s jobs record. Both also blasted him for not securing Medicaid expansion for Florida and for supporting national Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and both went after him on education and environmental issues.

Braynon tied the matters to economic development, charging that Scott cannot attract high-caliber businesses and jobs because he’s not investing in the base corporate leaders want.

“Business executives want what the rest of us do, and it all comes down to quality of life: good schools and top-notch universities, quality, affordable healthcare, efficient transportation, and clean water and air,” he stated. “They want more than just a state that sells itself as ‘cheap.'”

Cruz broadened her criticism beyond Scott to include all current Republican leaders in Florida, and for the past 20 years, charging that they were driven by ideology and priorities that do not serve most Floridians.

“Whether it’s through tax breaks that only benefit the privileged few and the largest corporations or the relentless, ideological drive to privatize core functions of your state government, the Republican solution to every issue facing our state has been to find more ways to line the pockets of the wealthy and the well-connected at your expense,” she declared.

“If you take one thing away from my remarks today I want it to be this: Florida’s problems do not lie in our revenues or our spending. Florida’s problems lie in the misplaced priorities of 20 years of Republican leadership,” Cruz stated.

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