Matt Gaetz: Conscience of Northwest Florida Conservative

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From State Representative Matt Gaetz: Last year our community gave me the greatest honor of my life by electing me to serve in the Florida House of Representatives. I ran as a conservative reformer frustrated with the direction of government at virtually every level. I?e learned that reform is never easy and rarely comes without a few bumps and bruises. After all, preserving the status quo is the goal of countless special interests.

I?e been accused of being anti-abortion, anti-union, pro-gun and hostile to some irresponsible acts of local government ?and that was just yesterday. Without regret I plead guilty on all counts.

I sponsored and passed legislation to stop taxpayer funded abortions and to defend 2nd Amendment rights. I opposed allowing the government to collect union dues and political contributions on behalf of public sector unions.

Any legislator unwilling to fight for constitutional principles or protect vulnerable, unborn life does not deserve the honor of representing District 4 in my book. That said, adhering to conservative values is not mutually exclusive with creating jobs and fostering economic growth.

We started by cutting taxes. Half of Florida? businesses will not pay a corporate tax next year. This creates breathing room for job creation and broader prosperity.

Families and retailers will enjoy a restored ?ack to school sales tax holiday?which had been discontinued in prior years. Homeowners will see $200 million in property tax relief. Voters will have the chance to repeal the ill-conceived ?ecapture rule?which allows government to raise property tax rates ?even when values decline.

Then, we took a meat cleaver to burdensome regulations that choke out job creation. Last year, I passed legislation requiring an economic impact analysis of all new regulations on small businesses. This year, our reforms will require the same review of absolutely every regulation currently on the books. Already 1,100 didn? pass the sanity test and are set for repeal.

The money government does collect should be spent wisely. Now, welfare recipients will be required to pass drug tests. Taxpayer funds should never be a subsidy for addiction. Those who are the victims of addiction will now have every incentive to kick bad habits. Even Medicaid patients will contribute a co-pay to their medical care and will be personally responsible for more of the lifestyle choices they make. And, yes, Florida will no longer be the only state in America that does not require some contribution from public employees toward their pension plans.

By spending responsibly and growing our economy, we can continue to invest in the future of Northwest Florida. Within the Oil Spill Recovery Act, $36 million is set aside specifically for economic diversification in our community. New industry ?building on our strengths ?will hold together the elements of our economy that can ensure prosperity for our future.

More reforms are on the horizon. We need an immigration fix, more support for existing businesses and higher pay for great teachers. An improving economy must be the catalyst to restore the cuts in services for disabled Floridians.

I know there is much more to learn, just as there is much more to do. I?l be knocking on doors, meeting with neighborhood groups and listening to the voices and values of Northwest Florida in the coming months.

In the mean time, I doubt that union bosses, Democratic Party protesters ?or even the Daily News editorial board will be clamoring to name me ?egislator of the Year.?That? ok. Reform isn? supposed to be easy.

There are 120 members of the Florida House. I represent the most conservative district in our state. It? good to be home.

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.