Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 2 of 28 - SaintPetersBlog

Gary Farmer to Rick Scott: Veto ‘dreadful’ HB 7069

A new state senator who is also a prominent trial attorney is telling Gov. Rick Scott to veto a contentious education policy bill, saying it’s a brew of “bad policy” and “a textbook example of a failure in government transparency.”

Sen. Gary Farmer, a Parkland Democrat, wrote a 2-page letter to Scott Tuesday on HB 7069, which critics have said will benefit charter schools to the detriment of traditional public schools.

“This dreadful piece of legislation, if signed into law, would dramatically reduce the ability of school districts across the state to devote resources towards improving our public education,” Farmer wrote.

The bill “would force school districts to give an even split of locally derived capital outlay funds to charter schools.”

Farmer also mentioned how “the process through which this bill was passed also raises some serious transparency issues.”

He said the bill “was fundamentally changed into a 278-page amendment that slashes funding for struggling schools and requires school districts to pay for charter school projects that they cannot afford.”

Moreover, the final product “included provisions that were the subject of some 55 other bills, the vast majority of which either had been voted down in committee or had stalled,” he said.

The bill “also hijacked unrelated issues, such as recess and Gardiner Scholarships for students with special abilities, in a blatant attempt to borrow support,” Farmer added. “That may be the most offensive part of this process, as these issues enjoyed broad, bipartisan support—unlike the other controversial provisions” of the bill.

“… While there are small pockets of good policy hidden within this bill, it is a monstrosity when coupled with the multitude of bad policies that have been included,” Farmer concluded.

Scott was in a Cabinet meeting Wednesday morning, but was expected to meet with reporters later in the day.

Andrew Gillum takes a swipe at Rick Scott’s ‘victory tour’

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, is slamming Gov. Rick Scott‘s and House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s “victory tour.”

Saying he’s standing up for public schools, Gillum released a statement Tuesday in the wake of Scott’s announcement of a five-city “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory” tour to “celebrate the major wins for Florida families and students during last week’s legislative Special Session.”

Corcoran plans to join him on some of the stops, set for Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa and Jacksonville Beach.

“This tour will highlight an all-time high of K-12 per-pupil spending, the establishment of the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, full funding for VISIT FLORIDA, and $50 million to kick-start repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee,” the governor’s press release said.

Gillum isn’t buying it.

“The only person less deserving of a ‘victory tour’ than Gov. Scott and Speaker Corcoran is Donald Trump‘s lawyer,” he said.

Scott’s and Corcoran’s “backroom deals will destroy our public schools’ futures, and they ought to be ashamed of what they’ve done to our state over the past week,” he added.

Gillum and public schools advocates have been critical of Corcoran’s favored bill, HB 7069, a wide-ranging education policy bill they say slights traditional public schools in favor of charter schools run by private concerns.

“The end of the Special Session is not ‘mission accomplished’ on behalf of Florida’s students and teachers,” Gillum said, a likely reference to a 2003 speech by then-President George W. Bush, after which he was criticized for prematurely saying the U.S. had “prevailed” in Iraq.

“I’m running for governor because our children are not well when they can’t read at grade level, take anxiety medication for high stakes tests, and suffer while for-profit charter school executives and their allies fly around on a ‘victory tour,’ ” Gillum said.

Legislature adjourns sometimes-bumpy special session in a burst of amity

The Legislature concluded its special session with about an hour and 20 minutes to spare Friday, after voting to improve funding for public schools, colleges, and universities, and revamping the way the state encourages economic growth.

While they were at it, the lawmakers passed an implementing bill for the medical marijuana constitutional amendment the voters approved last year.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron gaveled their chambers into adjournment at around 4:40 p.m. — well in advance of their 6 p.m. deadline. Clashing priorities at times had seemed to threaten a timely sine die.

“This is a very good day for Florida families,” Gov. Rick Scott said during a joint post-adjournment news conference with Corcoran and Negron in the Fourth Floor rotunda.

Scott had called the special session because he was unhappy with the state budget for schools and economic development the Legislature sent him last month.

On Friday, he credited Corcoran for coming up with the idea of helping to finance repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, around Lake Okeechobee, and Negron for pressing for the boost to higher education.

“I’m excited to travel the state and brag about what got accomplished in the special session,” Scott said.

Negron viewed the dike project as in keeping with SB 10, his big Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration project, approved during the regular session. He promised additional attention to the matter during the next regular session.

As for higher education, “our universities and our state colleges are an integral part of economic development and vitality in the state of Florida,” Negron said.

“If you put them all together — the special session and the regular session — it’s a landmark year,” Corcoran said.

He welcomed the increased investment in schools and the new economic development model that stresses broad infrastructure and training investments rather than grants to particular businesses.

“It looks like one of the first infrastructure projects might be repairing the dike at Lake O. So that’s an exciting thing, too, that happened today,” Corcoran said.

In subsequent remarks to reporters, Scott zeroed in on the schools right off the bat.

“We had to put more money into K-12 education, and I want to thank the House and Senate for making that happen,” he said.

He and Corcoran had bickered over the future of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida during the regular session. On Friday, he allowed that the speaker “made us think about how we can do economic development better.”

Scott wants the dike project completed by 2022, he said — and thanked President Donald Trump for promising federal money for the project. He said the state money would allow the work to get started.

Does Scott plan to sign the medical marijuana implementing bill?

“Absolutely,” he said. He raised no objection to language reserving treatment center licenses for defunct citrus processing businesses.

He’s still reviewing HB 7069, the House’s Schools of Hope charter initiative from the regular session. Asked whether there was a deal linking that bill to his priorities during the special session, Scott said: “I’m still reviewing the bills.”

Of the higher ed projects the Senate held out for, Scott said: “I have reviewed those projects and I plan on approving them.”

We have a deal: Lawmakers agree to increase money for higher ed and Hoover dike

Gov. Rick Scott expanded the call of the Legislature’s special session Friday to include money he wants to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike and higher education investments important to the Senate.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran had proposed both items in a letter to Scott earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, the Senate went into recess pending what President Joe Negron referred to as “an amendment being prepared based on current developments.”

Corcoran posited the dam project as economic development spending, fully compatible with the Florida Job Growth Fund created in legislation that cleared the House floor earlier Friday.

“This disaster has all the characteristics and consequences that the (fund) is designed to address,” Corcoran wrote — specifically, “the devastating economic impact resulting from the blue-green algae bloom in South Florida” last summer.

“The House believes infrastructure projects, such as the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike, can assist economic recovery and support the area’s workforce,” he wrote.

Corcoran noted that “your friendship with President Trump” has resulted a promise for federal matching money for the $200 million project, which Scott urged the Legislature to support during the regular session.

Negron on Thursday evening demanded respect for the Senate’s higher education priorities — he wants Florida’s colleges and universities to rank among the nation’s best. The upper chamber has voted to override Scott’s vetoes of $75 million in higher ed projects.

Corcoran found a way to qualify those projects as economic incentives. “These institutions can and ahould provide ongoing research, training, and support for local economic recovery,” he wrote.

“As I have publicly stated, the House will not participate in any legislative action to override your higher education project vetoes,” Corcoran stressed.

“However, with your agreement, we can support more conservative appropriations to provide funding for higher education projects that will contribute to the broader goal of strong public infrastructure and a skilled workforce.”

Scott confirmed in a written statement that Trump has promised money to fix the dike, which surrounds Lake Okeechobee.

“Along with SB 10, a major priority for Senate President Joe Negron, that I signed into law last month, repairing the Herbert Hoover Dike will ensure that future generations of Floridians will not be plagued with safety concerns during flooding events and problems with algae. I urge the Legislature to take up this call and fund these critical repairs,” Scott said.

“Also, today, I updated the call to include higher education funding. Last week, I signed a historic $4.9 billion budget for Florida’s universities, which is a $174 million increase over last year,” Scott continued.

“By adding higher education to the topics that can be considered during the ongoing special session, the Legislature will have the opportunity to modify these issues for my consideration.”

Joe Negron doubles down: He was not party to any special session deal

Senate President Joe Negron insisted Thursday, for the second time in as many days, that he emphatically was not party to any deal between Gov. Rick Scott and the House over public education spending and economic incentives.

Any suggestion otherwise, Negron told reporters following the day’s Senate session, is a “false narrative.”

There is evidence, he said — absence of reference to him in the governor’s special session proclamation, and of any quote from a press release announcing the session.

He said early drafts of those documents would back him up, but his office hadn’t produced them Thursday evening.

He’d asked not to be included, lest it be mistaken as an endorsement, although he did attend a June 2 news conference announcing the special session call.

“I hear this false narrative by some that, somehow, the Senate is not keeping its end of the deal,” Negron said.

“We all care about our reputation. Our word is our bond. I think the evidence is indisputable — and it makes perfect sense — that the governor and the speaker have resolved a conflict. But they can’t resolve that conflict by using the Senate priorities to make that happen.”

Negron stressed that the major disagreements during the regular session were between Scott and the House. The Senate sided with Scott on funding for Enterprise Florida Inc. and Visit Florida, over determined opposition in the House.

“Now the House has decided to give the governor every single dollar he has demanded for EFI, every single dollar for Visit Florida. And they’ve decided we’ll go ahead and do the $215 more for FEFP (public schools) — which is less than what the Senate had agreed to do in our budget,” Negron said.

“That’s the conflict. That’s why we’re here. We’re not here because of the Senate.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is on record to the effect that Negron “did not stick to the plan.”

Negron objected that Scott’s line item vetoes favored House projects over the Senate’s by a 2-1 margin.

Among the first things the Senate did upon convening Wednesday morning was to override Scott’s veto of the schools budget and $75 million in higher education projects. Boosting higher education has been a key Senate priority.

Additionally, the Senate is bent on reducing cuts to Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals by $100 million.

“We’re not just going to rubberstamp an agreement the two parties made without our priorities being taken into account,” Negron said.

“The good news is, we can be out of here by 2:30 or 3 o’clock tomorrow. It’s real simple. We fund the Senate priorities in higher education. We make sure the Senate’s views are respected as part of the negotiation. We look at hospital funding, which is important to the Senate. I’m open to discussing how we get there. And we still have reserves that exceed the current reserves that we have now,” he said.

“That’s what it’s going to take. But the Senate is united on not simply ratify an agreement that we weren’t part of.”

Negron spokeswoman Katie Betta said a Scott aide had shown her drafts of the proclamation and press release on a tablet computer. The proclaimation lacked Negron’s name, and she asked the aide to remove references to the president.

As Special Session opens, the Florida Senate asserts its prerogatives

That deal everyone assumed Gov. Rick Scott struck with legislative leaders to ensure a smooth special session?

It didn’t exist. At least, it didn’t include Senate President Joe Negron.

Scott invited him to Friday’s press conference held to announce that he was calling a three-day special session on education, Visit Florida, and Enterprise Florida, Negron said Wednesday. He went out of respect for the governor, but there was no meeting of minds.

“It was very clear to the governor, in my communications with him, also through our staff, that any particular details of how the special session would unfold were not agreed to by the Senate. In fact, we were never even approached about those particular details,” Negron told reporters.

“Some falsely interpreted the events as a narrative involving the House, the Senate, and the governor,” he said.

“The Senate’s been very clear that we’re here to do the people’s work.” Just as Scott and the House have their priorities, “the Florida Senate has its own ideas and its own ways that we think the budget can be improved,” Negron said.

For his part, Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala bristled at suggestions the Senate was bound to any deal.

“The mood of the chamber is, we want to do what’s right for the people we represent. And we’re not going to told what to by somebody else,” he said.

The Senate began bucking as soon as it left the gate. It voted to override Scott’s vetoes of various public schools and higher education projects — as an “insurance policy” against House high-handedness regarding the plan to boost spending by $215 million, Latvala told the senators.

The Senate also asserted its prerogatives on the economic development package, and will debate reinstating $100 million in Medicaid reimbursement cuts to charity hospitals.

Sen. David Simmons plans to offer an amendment to divert $389 million pledged to HB 7069 — the Schools of Hope Bill — for the public schools.

Some $100 million of that would provide wrap-around services to kids in underperforming schools — meaning “intensive assistance to children in low-performing schools,” Simmons said — the very ones targeted by Schools of Hope charters.

Simmons argued to reporters that there’s no way the program can get off the ground during the new budget year. In the meantime, it makes sense to spend the “fallow” money on pressing needs, he said.

Latvala saw irony in the House’s cooperation with Scott on the incentives package in light of criticism of the Legislature over behind-closed-doors deal on the Appropriations Act. The governor was among the critics.

“When you give the Senate a bill that you have written between the governor’s office and the House of Representatives and say, ‘This is what we want,’ what’s different about that? Out of the three, it’s just a different two of the three making the decision,” he said.

Sen. Anatere Flores is carrying legislation that would restore $100 million of the $200 million in cuts to hospitals that treat Medicaid patients under the Appropriations Act. That would draw an additional $160 million in federal funds.

She would get the money from the state’s rainy day fund, which, fed by Scott’s line item vetoes would still total around $3 billion, Flores said. There’d be $1.3 billion in the working capital fund, enough to preserve the state’s bond rating.

“We would be somewhat derelict in our duties if we didn’t go back and say, there are some other issues that we could take a stab at,” Flores said.

“These are pregnant mothers. These are children. This is their safety net,” she said.

Is she talking to House leaders?

“I think that we’re all just talking right now. Soon, maybe, we’ll be talking to each other. I hope.”

Regarding the outlook for a timely adjournment on Friday, Negron was conciliatory after the Senate concluded business for the evening.

“The Senate’s relationship with the governor has been very productive,” he said.

“I don’t take it as an offense when the governor exercises his constitutional right to get a final review of the budget and to veto certain items,” he said. “Under our constitutional system, the Legislature gets to also make a review.”

And he welcomed the House’s movement toward positions Scott and the Senate have embraced all along.

“We’ve made a lot of progress. We certainly understand where the House is on their priorities. I hopeful over the next two days we can continue the dialog,” Negron said.

Personnel note: Stephen Lawson moves to VISIT FLORIDA

Stephen Lawson has left the post of communications director for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to become Vice President of Government Relations for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

Lawson

He announced the job change in an email Wednesday.

Lawson has been making the rounds of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, previously serving as communications director for Enterprise Florida, the public-private economic development organization.

Before that, he was director of research and writing in the Executive Office of the Governor and “rapid response director” for Scott’s 2014 campaign.

Lawson got his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, where he was a Florida Blue Key member, and received a graduate degree from Florida State University’s Master’s in Applied American Politics and Policy program.

Andrew Gillum ‘slams’ Special Session

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, issued a brief statement Tuesday calling this week’s Special Session “a complete embarrassment to our state.”

Gillum also took a swipe at a education policy bill (HB 7069) Gov. Rick Scott is considering that, among other things, could funnel more money to privately-managed charter schools.

The session “was called with a total lack of transparency, and thanks to HB 7069, Floridians’ tax dollars are almost certainly about to enrich for-profit charter school executives,” Gillum said in the statement.

“I’d urge Governor Scott to veto this bill—if only he and Speaker (Richard) Corcoran would come out from their smoke-filled room. This session is a case study on why Florida needs new leadership.”

After a seemingly rule-less meeting, constitution panel adopts rules

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission now has a set of rules for how it might go about writing major changes to Florida’s Constitution.

Those rules — addressing such matters as who will appoint committees, how proposals will move through committees, whether Florida’s Sunshine laws will cover everything — emerged from a sometimes chaotic debate in Orlando Tuesday morning at a meeting that Chair Carlos Beruff adjourned suddenly after he got what he apparently wanted.

By a 20-11 vote, the commission adopted a proposal from Gov. Rick Scott-appointee Brecht Heuchan that largely adopts, as a base, the rules used by the previous state Constitution Revision Commission in 1997-98, with a few changes Heuchan said were the desires of a rules work group that had met.

With that, Beruff closed down discussion or consideration of dozens of other proposals, including some amendments, and then adjourned the meeting. He promised that the other suggestions would be taken up at later meetings, but made contradictory statements about whether they would be considered by the full commission, or by a rules committee, which he would be able to appoint and control.

But the rules package adopted Tuesday didn’t address everything that everyone wanted, and opponents mounted challenges. Particular among them were assertions that the package did not create a “clawback” promise that Heuchan and others promised, which would allow committee majorities to force proposals to be considered. Nor did it offer explicit language to open meetings enough to satisfy the strongest proponents of open meetings for the commission’s business.

The victory came on the strength of Scott’s appointees: among them, including his hand-picked chairman Beruff, the package won 13-0, while the non-gubernatorial appointees, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, added seven yes votes and 11 no votes.

Left on the outside, state Sen. Tom Lee had been waiting for discussion and consideration of his own proposal, also based on the 1997-’98 rules, plus several proposed amendments waiting to be offered. He, and former state Sens. Don Gaetz and Arthenia Joyner among others had argued strenuously against Heuchan’s plan.

Their arguments included Gaetz point-of-order call early on, in which he charged that Heuchan’s proposal had been offered and submitted improperly, and couldn’t even be considered by the commission the way it was being handled.

Beruff struck down Gaetz’ objection as the kind of procedural question he was trying to avoid, and with a statement about rules that cut to the heart of concerns about a commission operating before it had adopted its own rules.

“There are no rules here. It is my understanding that without rules, there is no Germanic standard,” Beruff said. “And of course there always is: if you don’t like the amendment, you don’t have to vote for it.”

The matter came up again as Lee challenged the vote Beruff called on the rules package, arguing that the vote was being called improperly. When Beruff dismissed that charge, Bob Solari spoke out.

“We have rules when some people like them, but we don’t have rules when some people don’t like them,” Solari declared. “If I was watching this, the public, I would be incredibly depressed and dismayed. Because seeing the game here is played, the rules of this game today changed five or six times.”

Heuchan, however, tried hard to defend his package of rules against its critics’ points of concern about the package itself, arguing that it was a compromise, that he recognized that it wouldn’t please everyone, but that it was good enough for a start. And if he turns out to be wrong in his reassurances that clawback and Sunshine law provisions were strong, those could be addressed later. He promised he would lead the charge to make those changes.

“The amendment that was adopted does address those,” he said later. “I realize it may not be in the way that everybody wanted them but there was obvious support for the broader compromise.”

He also took issue with Lee’s contention that the adoption of rules was the most important thing the commission would do, because it would go a long ways to deciding which constitutional amendments would get through the commission, and which ones don’t.

“I meant what I said: when the emotion and the anxiety of the moment passes, which it will, it always does, people will not remember this day as being the day of disagreement,” Heuchan said. “They will remember this day as a day that charted us on a course for planning for the next 20 years for the state and its future and how we can do better by people. I believe that.”

All of which was complicated when Beruff first said all such proposed changes would be taken up by the rules committee. That confirmed the fears that Joyner and others had raised. But then Beruff later said such changes would be taken up by the full commission. That confirmed what supporters such as Heuchan and Frank Kruppenbacher, said they wanted.

Kruppenbacher, who actually introduced Heuchan’s package in a resolution, insisted later that he would demand that proposed rules amendments that had been on the table Tuesday be heard by the full committee. That was what his resolution had called for, and he said he would make sure it was followed.

Mike Dew named Secretary of Florida Department of Transportation

As expected, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday named Mike Dew, the Florida Department of Transportation‘s chief of staff, as its next Secretary, effective immediately.

“For six years, Mike has been an integral part of my administration in the Executive Office of the Governor, Florida Department of Corrections and most recently the Florida Department of Transportation,” Scott said in a statement.

“Mike’s hard work and leadership over these years is a testament to his commitment to improve the lives of Florida families,” he added. “During his time as Chief of Staff of the FDOT, we’ve made great strides thanks to a commitment to excellence in infrastructure and historic transportation funding.

“Florida’s world-class transportation system is an engine for economic growth and job creation and I know Mike is absolutely committed to continuing our great work.”

FloridaPolitics.com first told readers that Dew had received a call from the Governor’s Office telling him the job was his.

Dew, who put in for the top spot the morning of the deadline to apply, was Scott‘s external affairs director in 2011-12. He bested the other finalists: Florida Transportation Commissioner Ron Howse and former FDOT assistant secretary Richard Biter.

The open position was created when former Secretary Jim Boxold resigned in January to join Tallahassee’s Capital City Consulting firm.

Dew also worked on John McCain‘s 2008 presidential campaign and President George W. Bush‘s 2004 re-election.

“It is an honor to be appointed,” Dew said. “Florida is the fastest growing state in the nation and Gov. Scott’s continued focus on our transportation infrastructure is vital not only to our growing population, but to Florida’s booming economy. I look forward to continuing the great work of FDOT and cementing our state as a leader in transportation.”

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