Joe Henderson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 19

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. I covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. I also was the City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. I served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. I have numerous local, state and national writing awards. I have been married to my wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and have two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

Rick Scott’s newest title – lame duck

Gov. Rick Scott has added a new title to his resume in the last few weeks – lame duck.

Sure, he officially retains the job of Florida governor until a successor takes over in 2019, but for all intents, it appears a majority of state House members aren’t waiting until then to stop listening to him.

The House Appropriations Committee euphemistically threw a pie in the governor’s face Tuesday by voting to eliminate Enterprise Florida and eviscerate Visit Florida, the state agency that markets the glory of the Sunshine State to people in the cold, frozen north.

This happened despite perhaps the most aggressive public pitch by Scott in his six years as governor to preserve both entities. It was a stinging rebuke by his own party, and what we can conclude is that it almost certainly is the shape of things to come.

Scott went down swinging.

“(Tuesday’s) vote by politicians in the Florida House is a job killer. I know some politicians who have voted for this job killing bill say they don’t necessarily want to abolish these programs but instead want to advance a ‘conversation.’ This is completely hypocritical and the kind of games I came to Tallahassee to change,” Scott said in a statement that wound up in my mailbox and no doubt hundreds of others.

“Perhaps if these politicians would listen to their constituents, instead of playing politics, they would understand how hurtful this legislation will be to Florida families.”

That’s feisty talk, but the truth is undeniable. The governor has been powerless though in the face of opposition by House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O’Lakes.

Corcoran sees both programs as revenue-sucking wastes of taxpayer money. He has called Enterprise Florida and its job-creation incentives “corporate welfare” and basically a colossal failure.

All Scott has been able to do is complain. He has been unable to summon the political clout to combat this insurgency within his own party, so what does that tell you?

Well, a couple of things.

Most important for the moment is that it says House Republicans have tuned out their Republican governor on an issue he cares passionately about. Once that happens, the disconnect only gets worse.

It also further stamps Corcoran as a legitimate contender to succeed Scott in the governor’s mansion, if future political ambitions take him in that direction. That makes the relative silence lately by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam even more interesting. Putnam is widely considered to be the likely Republican nominee for governor next time around.

Meanwhile, I wouldn’t expect Corcoran to give an inch going forward. When it comes to issues like these, compromise doesn’t seem to be in his playbook.

That’s not good news for Rick Scott after all the effort he has put in to save these programs, but as a lame duck, there’s not much he can do about it.

For ‘Dem-witted’ Florida Democrats, stop arguing and get to work

In case Democrats haven’t figured it out yet, they are in a position of increasing irrelevance for a couple of big reasons: They consistently have been outworked, and they apparently can’t understand what’s actually happening in Florida and this country.

The election of Donald Trump is just the latest in what has been a series of events that left Democrats dazed and confused (apologies to Led Zeppelin). I was reminded of that Saturday when an enthusiastic and large crowd (yes, Mr. President, it was large) turned out in Melbourne to hear President Trump rail against his favorite targets — chief among them, the media.

Democrats will point to opinion polls that show the president at historic lows after one month in office. Many of them will assume that means Trump’s administration is headed for a thrashing in the 2018 midterms, ultimately to crash on the rocks in 2020 — if he isn’t impeached before then.

They may be right, but I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it. The disconnect between everyday people and the so-called powerful elite has been widening for a while now. It shows no signs of easing. If anything, the gap is increasing. News flash: The everyday people are winning.

Go back to the 2010 governor’s election in Florida. How many experts gave Rick Scott any chance of winning? After he beat Alex Sink, Democrats disdainfully wrote it off an anomaly that would self-correct.

They argued that Scott had essentially bought the election by pouring millions from his own bank account into the campaign. They grumped that Sink had run a lackluster campaign. And when Scott was later judged to be the least popular governor in the nation, Democrats assumed they would regain power in 2014.

How did that work out?

Take it even closer to home. There was a story Friday on SaintPetersBlog from Mitch Perry about a transportation forum in Tampa. People listened as Sharon Calvert, Tom Rask and Barb Haselden — three local activists who resist labels but sound a lot like Tea Party folks — gave their views on public transportation.

It’s fair to say they oppose big government transportation projects they see as outdated money-losers, and they appear to be quite proud of their roles in scuttling local tax referendums for transportation in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

I have frequently dealt with Sharon Calvert, and while I don’t agree with many of her viewpoints, I respect her and her colleagues for their persistence and willingness to engage. And boy, do they engage.

They attend mind-numbing planning meetings and challenge officials to prove the things they say. They go over news articles and columns word by word to argue points that may seem arcane, but really aren’t. They are relentless on the details.

And here’s the biggest thing: they are convincing. Not to me necessarily and certainly not to many public officials, but they get their word out to the people and convince them to vote. They are the definition of grass roots.

That’s how Trump won, too. I remember driving by the Florida State Fairgrounds late one night shortly before November’s election. The place was packed with people coming to hear Donald Trump, a man who supposedly was lagging hopelessly behind in the polls at that point.

There were scenes like that playing out all over the country. Democrats dismissed it as a bunch of misguided yahoos and didn’t see the sucker punch coming until it knocked them to the floor.

So here’s the deal they better learn. They better stop being so Dem-witted about how election “shockers” like Trump and Rick Scott happen. They need to realize how much ground they need to make up with voters who have tuned them out.

They need to look at crowds like the one President Trump just had in Melbourne and see that for it is: reality. And then, as two-term Gov. Scott might say, get to work.

 

Subliminal message no help in Enterprise Florida fight

I was watching the fascinating video from the Florida House of Representatives in its escalating war with Gov. Rick Scott over state subsidies for private businesses and tourism when an image caught my eye as it streaked by quickly.

It was the logo for Enterprise Florida, the public-private partnership that is supposed to create jobs. Scott loves the concept so much he included $85 million in his budget request for the endeavor. Therein lies the battle line with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who says it’s a waste of taxpayer money.

The House video makes that case emphatically.

Anyway, I rolled the video back to the logo and thought, hey, wait a minute. It looked familiar. One quick Google search later confirmed that EP’s logo looks suspiciously similar to Enron’s, and, well, need I say more?

That’s not a subliminal message an endeavor fighting for its life (and funding) wants to send.

Enron, as we remember, set the gold standard (so to speak) for getting into taxpayers’ wallets in the name of “job creation” and other such gibberish. The Libertarian-leaning Cato Institute in 2012 called Enron “a poster child for the harm of business subsidies,” reporting the company received $3.7 billion through various means through federal government agencies before it collapsed in December 2001.

No one is trying to place Enterprise Florida on the same level as Enron, but the principle Corcoran and his GOP-controlled House members believe is where the connection is valid. Corcoran strongly argues that government (meaning taxpayers) shouldn’t decide business winners and loser by funneling public money to private interests.

And EP certainly has received more than a little bit of public dough since it was founded in 2005. As the Orlando Sentinel reported in December, “A prime example of Florida’s political favoritism is Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership that promised to create 200,000 jobs by 2005. After $1.7 billion in incentives, it had reached only half its goal. And while the program was intended to be funded equally between public and private funds, an estimated 90 percent of its funding came from the taxpayers.”

Scott is on a public relations offensive to keep the public tap open for Enterprise Florida, since job creation seems to be the sole focus of his administration. He was just in Palm Beach, warning that cutbacks to EP and Visit Florida, the tourism arm that also receives generous taxpayer money, could result in job losses.

WPTV in West Palm Beach reported that Discover the Palm Beaches President and CEO Jorge Pesquera said that eliminating Visit Florida could result in the loss of 3 million tourists to his area. He said that could cause 10 hotels to close with a loss of 31,000 jobs.

Well …

All that taxpayer money didn’t save Enron jobs, did it?

To be fair, it makes sense for the state to market tourism, given its obvious huge impact. But Enterprise Florida is another matter, and the showdown between a governor hungry to create jobs and a House Speaker equally determined to protect the public purse is in full swing.

While that plays out, the folks at Enterprise Florida might want to commission someone to create a new logo. It’s just a thought.

Bill blocking public release of death recordings a slippery slope for transparency, truth

I will give state Rep. Chris Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, the benefit of the doubt that he believes he is doing the right thing by filing HB 661 – a measure that prohibits the public release of video and audio recordings of someone’s death.

Latvala originally filed the measure last October to cover only the release of recordings and video of police officers who died in the line of duty. He expanded that bill Monday to include anyone who was killed, and made it retroactive to cover events that happened in the past.

His reasoning: such video inspires terrorists, as spelled out in the bill’s text:

“The Legislature is gravely concerned and saddened by the horrific mass killings perpetrated at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

“In addition to the emotional and mental injury that these photographs and recordings may cause family members, the Legislature is also concerned that dissemination of photographs and video and audio recordings that depict or record the killing of a person is harmful to the public.”

You know what else is harmful to the public? When governments aren’t accountable to the people they allegedly serve. That is particularly true, as we have seen in recent years, with officer-involved shootings.

Cops put their lives on the line daily, and in most cases their use of deadly force appears to be justified. There are cases, though, where we’re just not sure. We saw that in the case of the South Carolina police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man named Walter Davis in April 2015.

The private video shot by a bystander with a cellphone appeared to contradict officer Michael T. Slager’s story that he felt his life was in danger when he shot Davis, who was 17 feet away at the time and running in the opposite direction.

That video, widely distributed on social media, was used as evidence in Slager’s first trial; it ended in a hung jury. What is unclear in Latvala’s proposed bill is what would happen to such video if it was subpoenaed by the prosecution (which likely would happen if a similar case happened here).

Would the person who took the video be liable for felony prosecution, which would be the penalty under this proposal, if they posted the video they shot on social media?

Without contradicting video, we might just have to take the officer’s word for it that he or she felt their life was in danger. It’s an important check and balance.

Barbara Petersen of the First Amendment Foundation told the Orlando Sentinel about the case of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, 14, who died in 2006 at a juvenile detention center in Bay County.

An autopsy pinned Anderson’s death on a sickle-cell trait disorder. It was only after video surfaced of guards kicking Anderson and making him inhale ammonia that a follow-up autopsy concluded he died of suffocation.

As far as the video inspiring terrorists, I think Latvala is using fear as a rationale to pull the covers a little tighter over transparency.

While it reasonable to argue that terrorism feeds on itself, it’s a stretch to think that such footage would inspire any more carnage than regular coverage of the acts at the Pulse nightclub and the Hollywood airport.

What would Latvala propose: a total news blackout? Just pretend these things didn’t happen? That’s absurd, of course, but once politicians start down that slippery hill of deciding what is none of the public’s business, the absurd has a better chance of becoming reality.

Charlie Crist may be likable, but how soon before he eyes a new gig?

One of Charlie Crist’s best traits is his likability.

He can be a candle-in-the-wind on issues, depending on his audience. Changing parties infuriated Republicans and made Democrats skeptical. And once he gets a job, he tends to get wandering eyes for his next gig. But damn, he is a really nice guy. Despite his baggage, people like him and a lot of them vote for him.

That’s one reason he rose above the political tsunami that swamped Democrats nationwide and beat another good guy in Republican David Jolly to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Given that, it’s puzzling that Crist so far apparently hasn’t used his best trait to solidify the home base, even as he adjusts to life in the U.S. House of Representatives. Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday Crist has had a series of stumbles that have supporters wondering what the heck is going on.

Smith wrote that Crist and his wife, Carole, who is paid to oversee his political activities, “generated widespread grumbling and head-scratching about his clumsy start in Congress, even among longtime friends.”

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, a Democrat, told the newspaper Crist hasn’t touched base with her since he left for Washington.

“I can only compare the two, and right after David Jolly was elected he was calling my office and asking for a meeting and wanting to work together,” she said. “We built a very tight relationship. I’m hoping we can build the same kind of relationship with Charlie.”

Compare Crist to other members of Congress from the area. Democrat U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor frequently returns to Tampa and Hillsborough County to keep in touch with voters.

Republicans Gus Bilirakis (District 12) and Rep. Dennis Ross (District 15) do the same.

Bilirakis, as was widely reported, held a second “listening session” Saturday with Pasco County voters who forcefully oppose his plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It was the second such meeting Bilirakis has had on that issue with constituents in his district. Give the man credit for showing up.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is another politician who never forgets to keep in touch with the home folks. And we all remember how the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young was an unrelenting champion for Pinellas County.

But where is Charlie?

If this trend continues, it likely will embolden Republicans to find a serious challenger to go after his seat in 2018. It might even inspire a primary challenge from Crist’s own party — assuming he still is a Democrat by then (you never know).

Or, we have to note, people may start to wonder if Crist will lose interest in his current job the way he did as governor and state attorney general and not run for re-election at all.

He could squash all that by just being good ol’ likable Charlie. People will be waiting.

Florida seniors, be careful what you wish for with Donald Trump, Medicare

Florida’s estimated 3.8 million senior citizens wanted change. They wanted to, how you say, drain the swamp? They voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in November.

With voters age 65 and over, Trump won Florida by 17 percent. That likely was the difference in a statewide race he won over Hillary Clinton by about 119,000 votes.

Here is part of the change they voted for. His name is Tom Price, just confirmed in the Senate as Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services by a party-line vote of 52-47. Seniors may become better acquainted with him the next few years. He is the guy who The Washington Post says wants to privatize Medicare and Medicaid.

“Under his vision, both programs would cease to be entitlements that require them to provide coverage to every person who qualifies,” the Post reported. “Instead, like many House Republicans, he wants to convert Medicaid into block grants to states — which would give them more latitude from federal requirements about eligibility rules and the medical services that must be covered for low-income Americans.

“This plan would also require ‘able-bodied’ applicants to meet work requirements to receive health care benefits — an idea that the Obama administration has consistently rebuffed.”

I wonder how that will go over with the good folks in Charlotte, Sumter, Sarasota and Citrus counties. They are among the 11 “grayest” counties in the country.

Sumter, with nearly 53 percent of residents age 65 or older, ranks No. 1 on that list compiled by Pew Research. It is the only county in the nation to have that distinction.

Sumter, by the way, voted 69 percent for Trump. Charlotte, the second-grayest county in the land, delivered 62 percent in favor of Trump. Citrus was 68 percent. Sarasota was 54 percent.

To be fair, some of the angst over Price is about what he “might” do versus what he “can” do. He can’t just wave a calculator and do away with traditional Medicare and Medicaid, and for the time being his focus likely will be on reconfiguring the Affordable Care Act into something that will suit conservatives.

Congress would have to approve any major changes to Medicare and Medicaid, and although Republicans control both chambers President Trump has said he wants to keep things the way they are.

PunditFact rated claims by a Democratic website that Price wants to “phase out” Medicare as false.

Phase out? No.

Change? You betcha.

In case Price gets any funny ideas, though, AARP — the advocacy group for seniors — sent a letter Jan. 30 to a House committee holding Medicaid hearings warning block grants are something that could “endanger the health, safety, and care of millions of individuals who depend on the essential services provided through Medicaid.”

Shifting these programs to block grants would have a huge impact on Florida’s budget, given the high percentage of seniors living here. Imagine how long it would take for state representatives to run those budget numbers and decide nope, we can’t afford that.

This is just the first inning of what promises to be a long game in the contentious debate over these social safety nets for seniors. It’s also true, though, that House Republicans have had this issue in their crosshairs for decades and now they have a shot at reform — whatever that means.

If that happens, it will be too late for Sumter, Charlotte, Citrus and Sarasota counties to demand a recount. Those voters wanted change. Careful what you wish for.

On Rick Scott/Richard Corcoran feud; ‘incentives’ not needed to draw business to Florida

In 2012, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan went on a personal crusade to convince Bass Pro Shops to build a store in Brandon.

Hagan’s aim was to create jobs as the county struggled to recover from the Great Recession. He proposed an “incentive” package that was about $15 million of taxpayer money, arguing that it was the cost of doing business with a company like that.

Many people disagreed. They screamed. They howled. They complained that giving a Death Star-like Bass Pro public money to open shop forced small outdoor businesses to subsidize a multibillion-dollar corporation that could run them into bankruptcy.

Eventually, the incentive package was winnowed way down to some infrastructure improvements. Bass Pro came anyway. It seems to be thriving in its Brandon location.

I mention this in the context of the now-public feud between Gov. Rick Scott and Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the governor’s signature issue — jobs.

Scott has repeatedly shown he is a true believer in offering tax and other incentives to lure business to Florida. Corcoran guards the public bank account like a hungry pit bull, which is apropos because one of Corcoran’s targets was Visit Florida — the state’s tourism promotional arm that paid rapper Pitbull $1 million to tout our glory.

Scott built $85 million into his budget proposal for business incentives. Corcoran has dismissed that as corporate welfare and will have none of it.

I think Corcoran’s aim is more on target. Hillsborough’s experience with Bass Pro is proof.

Big businesses do create jobs, yes, but they also exist to make money. They will go to places where they can do that. Florida, now the third-largest state in the nation, is fertile ground for any company that wants to turn a profit.

But with the assumption that Scott will run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, the ability to “create” jobs seems to be his singular mission. There are about 1 million more jobs now in the state than when Scott took office in 2010. When you peel back the layers, though, the picture isn’t quite as bright.

As FloridaPolitics.com reported, the nonpartisan Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability studied eight state incentive programs and found that most of the money went to existing Florida companies that have more than 1,000 employees.

It also found that many of the companies receiving grants from the Innovation Incentive Program failed to hit their marks.

That underscores the notion that these are little more than giveaways that companies that shouldn’t be receiving tax dollars.

Scott tried to turn the tables from his own ambition, questioning what Corcoran has to gain politically. While the Speaker has been quiet about his plans, many wonder if a run for governor in 2018 could be part of his game plan.

“What else could it be,” Scott told reporters during a gaggle Tuesday in Tallahassee.

Well, just spit-balling here, it could be the idea that giving millions of tax dollars to companies who, like Bass Pro, might come here anyway is ethically and morally wrong. From what I can tell by watching and listening to Corcoran, this is not a position he adopted last week because it looks good politically. He really believes that spending needs to be scrutinized and minimized.

I would add that any company needing an “incentive” beyond Florida’s obvious strengths to do business here is probably not a company we need. But that’s just me.

With sanctuary city comment, Rick Kriseman defiant, but misguided

Whether you agree with the rules or you don’t, it’s never wise for a person in authority to say they are not going to follow the law. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman essentially did that when he stated the following in a blog post:

“While our county sheriff’s office is ultimately responsible for notifying the federal government about individuals who are here illegally, I have no hesitation in declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary from harmful federal immigration laws,” he wrote.

“We will not expend resources to help enforce such laws, nor will our police officers stop, question or arrest an individual solely on the basis that they may have unlawfully entered the United States. Should our solidarity with ‘Sanctuary Cities’ put in peril the millions of dollars we receive each year from the federal government or via pass-through grants, we will then challenge that decision in court. Win or lose, we will have upheld our values.”

Kriseman was forced to retreat Sunday after Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said his officers would enforce the law. That’s when Kriseman said in an interview that St. Pete isn’t really a so-called Sanctuary City — it just agrees with the concept.

That’s called trying to have it both ways. It usually doesn’t work.

That said, I agree completely with Kriseman that President Trump’s demonization of undocumented immigrants goes against everything America is supposed to stand for. So much about the president’s immigration policy is morally and ethically repugnant, designed to stoke irrational fear among the citizenry.

I just wish Kriseman had taken the approach of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. He visited the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay mosque Friday to support those jittery about the travel ban Trump wants to impose on people from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

“This city has your back,” Buckhorn told them. “I don’t care what this President did — that is not who America is. That is not what we represent. That is not what we are all about!”

See the difference in the approaches of the two mayors?

Buckhorn stepped up to the line and maybe jumped up and down on it a bit, but Kriseman stepped over it.

Buckhorn was supportive. Kriseman was defiant.

Both are Democrats, by the way.

Buckhorn told reporters covering the Friday event that Tampa is not a Sanctuary City, but he left enforcement up to his police department. When Kriseman said St. Petersburg police wouldn’t stop someone suspected of being here illegally, that took it a bit too far.

Hence, his retreat Sunday.

That could have repercussions for Kriseman in a re-election bid. While Pinellas County has only 245 more registered Republicans than Democrats (out of 641,484 voters), Trump won there in November by about 5,500 votes over Hillary Clinton.

A recent poll showed Kriseman trailing former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker in a theoretical rematch (Baker has not declared he is running).

That’s a discussion for another day, though.

For now, I’ll give Kriseman high marks for having his heart in the right place. On the rest of it, though, he gets an incomplete.

Uber, Lyft here to stay – time to level the playing field with taxis

I have spent a lot of words arguing that Tampa and Hillsborough County should welcome the ride-share companies Uber and Lyft instead of fighting to preserve a monopoly that has been enjoyed by traditional cab companies.

I still feel that way.

However, if Uber and Lyft are allowed to operate the way they want, taxi companies should have a greater latitude to do the same – lest the free market put them out of business.

That led to an exchange Thursday at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority that could be the sign of a gathering storm.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported, Yellow Cab President Louis Minardi wants to renegotiate his company’s contract with Tampa International Airport. He argued the contract requiring his company to pay the airport about $35,000 a month for access isn’t fair because drivers for Uber and Lyft don’t pay a thing.

The fee is financed by a surcharge passengers pay for taking a cab out of the airport. Uber and Lyft passengers don’t fork over that dough, so their ride is cheaper.

Minardi has an excellent point. That led to a lot of “er, uh, homina homina” from airport chief Joe Lopano.

He said “we can’t change the payment plan” because the airport has already budgeted for the money. He added that this should be a matter for the Public Transportation Commission.

That would be fine, except the PTC is on life-support legislatively and might not exist much longer. The PTC also is under siege after county attorneys reported that public records have been scrubbed from as many as seven agency cellphones. This may not be the best time to bring the PTC into anything, if you get my drift.

The contract between the airport and Yellow Cab runs until the end of February 2018. That’s basically 13 more months where ride-share drivers have a significant pricing advantage over traditional cab companies.

This is all a bit awkward.

To Lopano’s point about the PTC, taxi companies have enjoyed a cozy relationship for years that agency. It sets rates and other rules for them to follow, which they are happy to do because the PTC pays them back by restricting competition.

Uber and Lyft didn’t play ball, though. They fought against the PTC, resulting in threats and harassment against their companies until they won a temporary contract last November to operate freely until the end of this year.

There is no turning back. They’re going to be around for a long, long time.

Cab companies are the big loser in this, of course. That explains why Minardi was making the case to the airport board for a level playing field. I don’t blame him a bit.

What’s fair for one should be fair for all. What we have now at the airport doesn’t qualify.

Rick Scott, Legislature set for an old-fashioned ‘T’ word throwdown

If there was any uncertainty what the main event will be in the 2017 Florida Legislature, that has been answered.

It’s the throw down over the “T” word.

In one corner, Gov. Rick Scott is seeking an $815 million increase in public school funding. To help pay for that, the governor wants to use the ongoing spike in property values that is expected to bring in an additional $558 million.

In the other corner, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said no way, no how. Even though the actual tax rate isn’t going up, that doesn’t seem to matter. Corcoran sees using the extra money as a de facto tax increase. And you know he feels about that.

“I’ve said it a thousand times: The House will not raise taxes,” Corcoran told reporters at a gaggle on Tuesday.

It was widely reported that he gave special emphasis to the last six words, probably channeling his inner George H.W. Bush when the former president famously stated, “Read my lips … no new taxes.”

Bush later changed his mind about that but I can’t see Corcoran giving an inch — even if it means going head-to-head with his fellow Republican who sits in the governor’s mansion.

I think Corcoran would relish that battle anyway. He has already clashed with the governor over Scott’s penchant for offering business incentives. He is at it again. His proposed $83.5 billion budget includes $618 million in tax cuts that largely benefit businesses.

Scott calls it “job creation.”

Corcoran calls it “corporate welfare.”

Public schools aren’t corporate welfare, though. Without excellence in education, the whole state suffers.

To be fair, I don’t know if Scott’s education pitch was a grandstand play, aimed at a potential 2018 run for the U.S. Senate. He had to know how Corcoran and House members would react. It’s worth noting that he put way more into the budget than education officials requested.

Even so, Scott zeroed in on a couple of things related to education that need to be addressed, no matter how the main event turns out.

He has proposed ending the ridiculous Best and Brightest bonus program that awkwardly required all teachers, even those with 30 years of experience, to submit their high school SAT or ACT test scores to be considered.

Really stupid. Really, really, really, really stupid. Insulting, too. The governor gets an extra cookie for recognizing this.

He also wants to eliminate some the fees teachers pay to be certified. That can amount to more than $500 per teacher at the start, along with regular renewals that cost $75. Teacher retention is a major systemwide problem and nuisance fees like those make it worse.

I hope Corcoran is at least sympathetic to that. Florida seems determined to push ahead with as many for-profit charter schools as possible, but public schools remain the backbone of the state’s education system.

They won’t get all the money the governor has requested. That doesn’t mean they should get shut out.

After years of piling on standardized testing that has put teachers’ jobs in jeopardy, cutting education funding, and generally devaluing the incredible work being in public schools, the Legislature needs to cut teachers a break.

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