A compilation of reactions from Florida'a progressive leaders to the 2011 legislative session

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The 2011 lawmaking session isn’t over yet, but the “canned scorn” as Aaron Deslatte describes it from affected unions and conservation groups is filling up the inbox. Here’s a sampling:

?he legislature rolled back protections, decades in the making, to ensure the water flowing into the Everglades, our lakes, rivers and streams are clean and safe for our children and families. The vast majority of the most problematic proposals passed this session were ideas that were roundly rejected by Gov. Jeb Bush as too extreme. If you think Florida needs more strip malls, over-crowded schools, traffic, you did all right this session. The depth and breadth of the legislative assault on Floridian? quality of life has been staggering and unprecedented. If you don? swim at the beach, if you don? fish, if you don? breathe, and if you don? drink water this was a good session for you,” saidCharles Lee, Director of Advocacy, Audubon of Florida.

?t will take time for the public to fully appreciate the extent to which their interests were trampled on by those in power over the last 60 days. Middle class Floridians will see higher insurance rates, higher phone rates, more sprawl, and more obstacles to having a voice in their elections. Meanwhile, industries will enjoy less regulation, more public dollars boosting their bottom lines, and the ability to funnel money into legalized slush funds for political leaders,” said Florida PIRG AdvocateBrad Ashwell.

?hen the dust settles and our elected officials return home, they will find that glossy wrap-ups on the ?uccesses?of the 2011 legislative session have not fooled voters. Paychecks and communities will feel the after effects of this session. The leadership should not be surprised to find outraged constituents who will make their voices heard every day leading up to November 2012.?saidMike Williams, President, Florida AFL-CIO.

?he budget passed by lawmakers is a disaster for Florida public schools. It would force districts to fire employees, including many high quality teachers. It would force cuts in programs and would force school districts to make choices that would hurt our students. While we should be making a solid investment in our children, who are the future of Florida, our elected officials are determined to place their priorities elsewhere, like easing the tax burden for CEOs and corporations. Just when our children need help the most, lawmakers have turned their backs on them.?saidAndy Ford, President, Florida Education Association.

?irefighters will not forget that this Legislature passed a draconian budget that taxed our incomes. We will continue to do our job of protecting our communities but it is unconscionable that as we put our lives at risk that politicians see fit to balance the budget on our backs. We need a strong economy, not political games to silence our voices and curtail our representation in Tallahassee. We will work to change this as we move towards the elections in 2012.?saidGary Rainey, President, Florida Professional Firefighters

?ur members fully understand who has stood with them and who made it their mission to rob them of their salaries and voices at work. Police Officers sacrifice every day to protect our communities and the budget that passed adds to the sacrifice they and their families will be expected to make. We wanted job creation and a return of a vibrant economy; both of which would have helped create safer communities. Sadly, this was not what some in Tallahassee thought was relevant in 2011.?saidJames Preston, President, Fraternal Order of Police.

?ver the last 3 1/2 years, general public employees and transit employees have worked hard to make their departments more efficient and have taken on heavy workloads without any extra compensation and effort to support the shortfall of revenues impacting local governments. This budget places a tax on public employees who have already given so much in order to give the State of Florida a balanced budget; while corporations continue to enjoy in Florida profits and tax breaks. This is a slap in the face to working families in Florida.?saidMichael Lowery, Chairman, Amalgamated Transit Union, Florida State Legislative Conference Board.

?n top of cutting jobs and cutting school funding, this budget will literally result in cutting short the lives of our seniors in nursing homes. Rolling back the hours of bedside care received by nursing home residents will usher in a return to the days of bedsores, crippling falls and premature death for our parents and grandparents. This legislature should be ashamed.?saidMonica Russo, Executive Vice President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

?he big question posed this session was, which Florida do we want? One where everyone pays their fair share or one where we take money from hardworking families to lavish more tax breaks on those who need them least. Rick Scott and the Tallahassee politicians were elected to create jobs, but instead of finding solutions that work, it was politics as usual. They pushed a radical agenda that funnels taxpayer dollars to their big campaign donors,?saidJeanette D. Wynn, President, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 79.

 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.