Rick Scott Archives - Page 2 of 152 - SaintPetersBlog

Rick Scott to D.C.: Give us a Medicaid block grant

Florida Gov. Rick Scott appears in Jacksonville with Vice-President Mike Pence Saturday, and the governor set up that meeting with some direct words about the future of Medicaid in the state.

“Today, the State of Florida is requesting greater flexibility from the federal government in running our statewide Medicaid program so we can deliver high-quality care without layers of government bureaucracy,” Scott said.

“My goal is to turn the top-down, Washington-knows-best approach of the Obama administration on its head by requesting flexibilities from the Trump Administration to manage our own Medicaid program based on the needs of Florida families. It is important to me that we have these flexibilities while not removing anyone from our current Medicaid program,” the governor added.

Scott, to the consternation of former President Barack Obama, resisted Medicaid expansion, contending that the state could handle administering low-income health care better than the federal government.

On Friday, Scott reiterated that stance.

“I firmly believe states can administer Medicaid far more efficiently than the federal government and that health care decisions made at the state level will be more successful than decisions made in Washington,” Scott said, vowing “to fight to get rid of the burdensome, duplicative and costly federal requirements put in place by the Obama administration.”

“Unfortunately, the previous administration was determined to micromanage every aspect of our health care system from Washington, which led to the high costs and limitations of services we currently see across the nation. Their excessive strong-arming put politics before the needs of families in our state,” Scott said.

The governor’s requests include a block grant of federal funds to replace supplemental payment programs, “flexibility regarding retroactive eligibility,” assistance with strengthening ties between primary care providers and Medicaid enrollees, streamlining the process to eliminate duplicative bureaucracy and administrative burdens.

The news release from the governor’s office was intended to amplify a letter from ACHA Secretary Justin Senior letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price that went out Friday.

Senior reiterated Scott’s optimism that Florida can provide “the best Medicaid services without removing anyone from our current program.

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Julianne Holt expresses concerns about Rick Scott’s benching of Aramis Ayala

After Rick Scott removed Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala from the case of accused cop killer Markeith Loyd, she announced she would not pursue the death penalty in his or any other case during her tenure.

Later, Dover House Republican Ross Spano called on Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren to condemn Ayala’s actions. 

Warren refused, saying that he would seek out the death penalty only in “rare cases that are so heinous, atrocious, and undeserving of mercy as to be considered the worst of the worst in our society.”

At the Tampa Tiger Bay Club Friday, Warren was asked again about his thoughts on the case. He responded with essentially the same thing — the issue was between the Governor and Ayala.

Warren did acknowledge “prosecutors have the discretion to make charging decisions or the decision not to charge, the sentences that we seek, within each municipality, locality and jurisdiction. and the exercise of that discretion is critical to having a well-functioning criminal justice system.”

That prompted a more provocative reaction from Hillsborough County Public Defender Julianne Holt, a Democrat like Warren.

“As an elected constitutional officer, I am given broad discretion on how I run my office,” she began. “If I abuse that discretion, if I do things that are illegal, unethical immoral, things of that sort that rise to a certain level, then the governor has the ability to remove me, suspend me. If I’m charged with a criminal offense, the governor can take action.

“But it is extremely scary to me to think that if one person is unhappy with the decision that Mr. Warren makes in our community, decides to hold a news conference and be critical of him, that the next thing he would get is a message saying you’re removed from that case, somebody else is going to come in to my community and take that case.

“The next time he’s in a similar position, is he going to exercise his discretion, or is he going to be doing because he’s fearful of what may come from Tallahassee?” she asked. “I want him to keep his discretion.”

Her response was met with loud cheers from the Tiger Bay audience.

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House seeks to end controversial state employee charity program

Florida lawmakers are looking to shut down a charitable program funded for decades by state employees.

A bill to end the Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign comes after a yearslong slump due partly to a drop in participation and controversy surrounding its management, according to a new bill proposed by a House lawmaker and unanimously favored in committee Thursday.

The bill, CS/HB 1141, is sponsored by Rep. Clay Yarborough through the House Government Accountability Committee.

The measure would end the FSECC, which offers a way for employees on Florida’s payroll to give to charities of their choice. If they choose to take part in the program, they are encouraged to authorize payroll deductions divided incrementally from their annual salary.

The FSECC is the only authorized form of workplace solicitation of state employees permitted during work hours, according to the of the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS), which administers and channels the funds collected from employees to a third party for distribution to the actual charities.

Participation in the program is voluntary.

“At its peak in 2005 the program raised $4.9 million,” Yarborough told the House Government Accountability Committee Thursday. “However, since then … the campaign has experienced an ongoing and significant decline in employee contributions — so much so that in 2016 employees pledged a historic low of $282,000, which was a decrease of more than 94 percent.”

The FSECC was enacted by the legislature in 1980 and allows workers to choose among a wide range of “eligible charitable organizations that meet human or environmental needs,” and are inclusive of domestic or international causes.

Channeling the money through the FSECC reduces the expense and effort that arise from multiple charity drives cropping up throughout a calendar year that had the potential to disrupt workplace efficiency.

“The bill basically removes government as the middleman and supports state employees giving directly to the charity of their choice, and we all know that with today’s ability to donate to charities — from computers to and hand-held devices — direct giving is easier than ever,” Rep. Yarborough said.

During its 36-year history, the FSECC raised more than $94 million, according to a house House of Representatives staff analysis of the campaign.

The FSECC was run by the United Way for years and took in roughly $4 million a year from 1999 to 2009, when donations began to dip.

However, in 2013 the fund took a nose-dive after the state outsourced the charitable drive in 2012 “to Solix, Inc., a New-Jersey-based company with close ties to Gov. Rick Scott through its well-connected lobbyists,” according to a 2015 article in The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

The newspaper further noted a partisan investigation by Statehouse Democrats found Solix took 47 percent of the campaign’s proceeds in 2013 and more than half last year to cover its overhead. This year — in part because donations continued to tank — Solix could walk away with a bigger chunk, nearly two-thirds of the contributions.

DMS renewed the contract with Solix last year even though there were grumblings from state employees once the Democrats’ investigation was made public and there was a dispute in the percentages taken in for overhead between numbers given by DMS and United Way, the previous steward of the campaign, and the percentages taken in by Solix for overhead.

Florida statutes dictating the rules and ethics for the FSECC do not allow the agency to do business with a third party if the overhead exceeds 25 percent, except in rare circumstances.

Turns out the New Jersey company was getting $0.71 for every dollar Florida state employees were contributing to the FSECC. Still, DMS defended their choice of Solix.

Lawmakers apparently do not agree with the FSECC. The governor’s been mum on the issue, but in a hint of the fracas behind the scenes, DMS Secretary Chad Poppell resigned Thursday.

Mentioning nothing of HB 1141, Scott said, “Chad Poppell has done an outstanding job as Secretary of DMS and I want to thank him for his hard work to improve efficiency and foster innovation in state government. Under his leadership, Florida has remained a leader in government efficiency and provided the critical support to our state agencies to ensure Florida families and businesses receive the services and support they need.”

The Thursday introduction of the bill Thursday was its second hearing. The House Oversight, Transparency and Administration Committee also voted unanimously in favor Monday.

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Joe Henderson: Aramis Ayala should follow law in death penalty case, not try to make it

I’m not a big fan of the death penalty.

I think having condemned inmates spend 20 years or more on death row while their appeals play out thwarts the argument that is a deterrent. Inmate Douglas R. Meeks, for example, has been awaiting execution since March 21, 1975.

He is one of 16 inmates who have been on Florida’s death row since the 1970s.

And keeping inmates locked up 23 ½ a day in a cramped cell with no air conditioning for the entire time they’re awaiting execution is borderline inhumane.

By the way, I’ll concede that the people on death row committed inhumane acts in the first place.

Having said that, State Attorney Aramis Ayala in Orlando was wrong on multiple levels when she announced she wouldn’t seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, who is accused of killing Police Lt. Debra Clayton and his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Gov. Rick Scott did the right thing Thursday with his order that took the case away from Ayala and gave it another state attorney who will pursue the death penalty if Loyd is found guilty.

In a statement, Scott said: “I want to be very clear, Lt. Debra Clayton was executed while she was laying on the ground fighting for her life. She was killed by an evil murderer who did not think twice about senselessly ending her life.”

Ayala referenced several of the factors I mentioned as a reason for not seeking the death penalty in this emotionally charged case. The trouble is, it is her job to follow the law — not make it. If this were a 50-50 decision under existing law, then yes, she could decide not to go for death. But it’s not even close.

If we’re going to have the death penalty, then cop killers go to the head of the list. It is the duty of people in Ayala’s position to prosecute those offenses to the full extent of the law.

There are valid reasons lawmakers should consider abolishing the death penalty, but that’s their call. Death penalty opponents praised Ayala, but that missed the point. What they should be doing is bringing public pressure on legislators.

Just so we’re clear, they also should pick a better case to make their point than one involving the murder of a police officer.

Ayala made history in January when she was sworn in as Florida’s first African-American State Attorney. She made history this time for a different reason. She may not like the death penalty, but it’s part of the job.

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Andrew Warren reacts to Ross Spano’s comment that he should resist following lead of Aramis Ayala on death penalty

The announcement that Aramis Ayala, the newly-elected state prosecutor in Orlando, would not seek the death penalty in the high-profile prosecution of an accused cop killer is having reverberations around the state.

Ayala was taken off the case by Governor Rick Scott after she refused to recuse herself, and prompted Dover Republican Ross Spano to call on Hillsborough County’s State Attorney Andrew Warren to “condemn” Ayala’s actions.

“I call on our new State Attorney, Andrew Warren, to resist the political urge to follow the lead of State Attorney Ayala, condemn her actions and publicly commit to following the rule of law,” stated Spano in a statement.

Spano serves as Chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House. He called Ayala’s refusal to seek the death penalty in the case of Markeith Loyd “an inexcusable abuse of her prosecutorial discretion.”

“State Attorney Ayala has inappropriately injected her radical political ideology into a judicial proceeding and I demand she adhere to the rule of law,” Spano said.

Like Ayala, Warren was elected last year as State Attorney. In both cases, they were Democrats running on a platform of criminal justice reform.

In response to Spano, Warren applauded the Legislature and Scott for passing legislation requiring a unanimous jury recommendation to obtain a death sentence.

“Each State Attorney, including Ms. Ayala, after careful and meticulous evaluation, has the full, legal discretion to determine for his or her jurisdiction, whether to employ this ultimate sanction,” he said. “My office will thoroughly and painstakingly evaluate each capital offense and seek the death penalty only in the rare cases that are so heinous, atrocious, and undeserving of mercy as to be considered the worst of the worst in our society. I look forward to working with Representative Spano on a variety of criminal justice issues: from the death penalty, to the dangerous and irresponsible Stand Your Ground legislation currently pending that makes it harder to prosecute violent criminals, to cost-effective programs that increase public safety while reducing long-term recidivism.”

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House Democrats demand Rick Scott speak up on CBO’s scoring of GOP health care plan

Since the Congressional Budget Office said the Republican health care plan would raise the ranks of the uninsured by 14 million people next year earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott has been silent.

Florida House Democrats are now calling him out for his sudden reluctance to weigh in on a subject he’s never been shy about talking about before.

The governor has been a major critic of the Affordable Care Act and traveled to Washington last week to meet with President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, and House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss the American Health Care Act.

Scott told reporters later he was “encouraged” about the Act, adding that it was still a “work in progress.”

But after the CBO came out with their score card earlier this week that said that the GOP plan would raise the number of uninsured to 24 million over a decade and could have a huge impact on Florida’s Medicaid program, the governor has been silent.

Florida House Democrats now say it’s time for him to speak up.

“Rather than acting as a leader, the Governor took the path of a typical politician and ducked the question entirely,” says House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz. “If Governor Scott isn’t prepared to defend ‘Trumpcare,’ he at least owes Floridians an explanation about what exactly he’s been discussing with Republican leadership during his taxpayer funded trips to Washington DC.”

“Trumpcare would rip the rug out from under the millions of Floridians who have gained access to quality, affordable health care under the ACA,” says Coral Gables Rep. Daisy Baez. “This would be incredibly harmful to the overall health and well-being of all Floridians, and they deserve to know where Governor Scott stands on this issue.”

Democrats note that Florida leads the nation in those finding coverage through the insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, with over 1.6 million Floridians signing up during this year’s open enrollment period. They also not that the plan will be financed in part by cutting $880 billion to Medicaid, which could have a huge impact on states like Florida, which opted not to expand Medicaid under the ACA.

“Florida’s Medicaid system is already lacking the resources necessary to provide the level of care our citizens deserve, and these proposed cuts would be devastating for our state’s working families,” said Miami Rep. Nick Duran. “I would encourage the Governor to consider carefully how many Floridians stand to lose from the proposed billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicaid program.”

A former health care executive before entering the political stage, Scott savaged the ACA even before it was signed into law by Barack Obama in 2010, and his criticisms have never stopped.

“Other than President Obama and a few stragglers, everyone now realizes that Obamacare was a terrible notion,” Scott wrote in an op-ed in USA Today last fall. “It was sold on a lie. It was invented by liberal academic theorists who have no interaction with real families and businesses and therefore it doesn’t work.”

“This is no time for Republicans to go wobbly or get weak in the knees about repealing Obamacare,” the governor wrote in another column for CNN.com in January. “If we refuse to roll back the welfare state, what real purpose do we serve?”

However, a number of congressional Republicans, including Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are expressing serious doubts about the House proposal in the wake of the CBO report.

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Rick Scott launches TV ad taking aim at ‘politicians in Tallahassee’ over tourism, jobs

The fight between Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House continues to heat up, with the governor taking to the airwaves to bash “the politicians in Tallahassee.”

The Naples Republican released a 30-second advertisement Thursday. The ad — paid for by Let’s Get to Work, his political committee — is expected to air across the state beginning next week, according to Gary Fineout with The Associated Press.

The advertisement comes one week after the Florida House voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill to eliminate Enterprise Florida. The House also voted to adopt a measure to slash Visit Florida funding.

“The politicians in Tallahassee don’t get it. They don’t understand how jobs are created,” the governor is shown saying in the advertisement. “If the politicians in Tallahassee say they don’t want to market our state and we lose tourists, then we’re going to lose jobs. If we lost 2 percent of the jobs in tourism, that’s 28,000 jobs.”

Scott continues by saying the “politicians are wrong.”

“There is not a job that is expendable,” he says. “Every job is important. Florida will compete.”

Scott has been traveling the state rallying support from business, economic development and tourism leaders. He held a tourism rally in the Capitol, and hosted roundtable discussions in Tallahassee and Sarasota this week.

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Pat Neal: Prosperity for our families and future

Pat Neal

Thanks to the efforts of Governor Rick Scott and the state’s committed business leaders, Florida has one of the strongest economies in the country. With our unemployment rate under 5 percent, Florida continues to exceed the nation’s annual job growth rate and tourism, one of the state’s economic drivers remains strong, with just under 113 million visitors in 2016, an increase from just 86 million visitors just three years ago.

Much of this success has been a result of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

Their contributions are critical to our state’s recovery and continue to be important drivers in Florida’s economic well-being. The two organizations are responsible for helping create thousands of jobs in conjunction with private businesses, and the organizations allow us to compete with other states for businesses and visitors, many of whom have significantly increased their business and tourism marketing programs to entice companies and visitors.

It is important to have a business climate that allows companies to flourish, people to be able to find high-paying jobs and to ensure that we are economically competitive on a national level.

Political differences in the Capitol are putting the success of the Sunshine State at risk. Members in the Florida House have filed numerous pieces of legislation taking aim at Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. The bills call for drastic cuts or the complete elimination of the two public-private partnerships, outcomes that would undoubtedly slow down or even reverse the good economic fortune of Florida.

As an employer of hundreds, I hear every day how important it is for Florida families to have good jobs that pay well and build a more prosperous future for our children.

Research from Florida TaxWatch shows that Florida’s targeted economic development incentives have generated positive return on state investment by enticing qualifying businesses to bring high-wage jobs to the state and diversifying the state’s industry portfolio. Incentive programs also have numerous protections, such as sanctions and clawbacks, in order to ensure that the hard-earned dollars of Florida taxpayers are not spent unwisely.

We must compete with the millions each year of incentives paid by other states, counties and municipalities.

The data also backs up the power of tourism marketing in attracting visitors to the Sunshine State. Continuing to fund Visit Florida will bring hundreds of millions of people to the state.

Every 76 visitors to Florida support one job. This investment is diversifying the Florida economy, creating jobs and improving the income of Floridians.

If the legislature were to make significant cuts to, or eliminate, Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, it will put Florida at an economic disadvantage versus the rest of the nation, stifling job creation and slowing economic development and extinguish the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Florida workers who seek a more prosperous future. We must continue to fund our incentive and tourism marketing programs. We must remain a state open for business.

___

Pat Neal, former state senator and the former chair of the Christian Coalition of Florida, currently serves as chairman-elect for the board of directors of Florida TaxWatch, the state’s independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute and government watchdog, and the president of Neal Communities.

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Joe Gruters says he’s a long shot for CFO position, but appreciates the consideration

Sarasota GOP Chair and state Rep. Joe Gruters said he is a “long-shot” to be Gov. Rick Scott‘s choice to succeed Jeff Atwater as Chief Financial Officer once Atwater leaves the office in May.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gruters appeared on Tampa Bay area radio station News Talk 820 WWBA with guest host David Jolly, who formerly represented Florida’s 13th Congressional District.Gruters had shown loyalty to Scott and President

Jolly said Gruters had shown loyalty to Scott and President Donald Trump when he backed both candidates when they were considered outliers within the GOP, and Scott would reward such loyalty by picking Gruters to succeed Atwater later this year, Jolly said.

“Well, Congressman, that’s so nice of you to say,” Gruters responded, as Jolly laughed.

“Even to be mentioned with some of these other names that are being popped up is an incredible honor,” Gruters continued. “I don’t know who it’s going to be. My guess is that I’m a long shot candidate, there’s other great candidates like (Jacksonville Mayor) Lenny Curry, Pat Neal, who’s a great friend of mine in Manatee County who would be a strong 2018 contender.

“But here’s the deal: you never know. Listen, I’m going to continue to fight for jobs and economic development no matter what the position I’m in, whether it’s state House or anything else.”

“Joe, you’re a winner in Florida politics,” replied Jolly, who was guest-hosting for Dan Maduri. “It wouldn’t surprise me if either now or in the future, we’re talking about Joe Gruters in a Cabinet position.”

Atwater announced he will leave the CFO position after the regular Legislative Session ends in May. Scott has given no indication about who he will select to replace him.

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Glen Gilzean backing Berny Jacques in HD 66 race in 2018

A week after the Pinellas County Young Republicans endorsed his candidacy for the House District 66 in 2018, Berny Jacques announced Wednesday that he has received the endorsement of former Pinellas County School Board Member Glen Gilzean. 

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Berny both on a personal level and as a grassroots conservative leader,” said Gizean on Wednesday. “As a former Pinellas County School Board member, I am confident that Berny will pursue policies that strengthen our public schools while also empowering parents with choices in their child’s education.”

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of Glen Gilzean,” said Jacques. “Glen has a strong track record when it comes to fighting for all kids to have access to a quality education. His support inspires me to make education reform a priority in our campaign.”

Gilzean serves as the President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, and was recently appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the Ninth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. He served ten months on the Pinellas School Board in 2012 after being named by Scott to fill the seat left empty by the death of former school board member Lew Williams, but was defeated that November by Rene Flowers.

Jacques is an attorney based in St. Petersburg, but previously served as an Assistant State Attorney in Pinellas County. He is the first candidate to officially announce that he is running for the House District 66 seat currently occupied by Larry Ahern, who is term-limited next year.

Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chair Nick DiCeglie has also said he is running, but has not officially filed the paperwork yet.

House District 66 encompasses Clearwater, Largo, Seminole and Belleair.

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