Rick Scott Archives - Page 3 of 249 - Florida Politics

Sean Shaw bill for 2018 would stop raiding of Sadowski Housing Trust Fund

For the tenth year in a row, Florida lawmakers raided the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund to balance the budget that currently sits on Governor Rick Scott‘s desk. One state Representative says that needs to stop.

Democrat Sean Shaw says he will file legislation for the 2018 Legislative Session to block what has become an annual ritual of the Legislature, even if the likelihood of the bill’s passage is dubious.

“I’m willing to dedicate one of my six slots to that, just to have the discussion,” he says, referring to the rule that House members can only file six bills in a legislative session.

The Sadowski funds come from a locally collected doc stamp on real estate sales transactions that is sent to the state. Seventy percent of that is sent back via the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) to all 67 counties, based on population, to primarily aid low-to-moderate-income residents with buying a home. The other 30 percent goes to the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL), which the state uses as an incentive for developers to build affordable apartments.

Last year, lawmakers took $200 million out of the trust, cutting Scott’s original proposal of almost $240 million. The year before, the Legislature allocated $175 million of the $255 million that should have been spent on affordable housing.

“The Sadowski Fund isn’t the only one that gets swept,” Shaw told FloridaPolitics earlier this week. “It’s the one that means the most to me, but there are tons of funds that get swept into general revenue that are taken for specific amounts of money.”

Shaw says the Legislature  has its priorities out of order when it comes to issues such as affordable housing.

“For us to keep giving tax cut after tax cut, and then to make up for it with money from the Sadowski Fund, is ludicrous,” he says.

Chris King, the Winter Park businessman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is also making the raiding of the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund an issue in his campaign.

“It’s not fair that we have huge tax cuts to the biggest corporations in America while were raiding the affordable housing trust fund to the tune of $1.7 billion over the last 15 years, which has been an all-out attack on seniors, on law enforcement, on recent college graduates, anyone who wants to make a life here in Florida” he said earlier this week in Tampa.

Meanwhile, Shaw is slated to co-host a clinic on voting rights restoration this Saturday in Tampa.

The clinic is designed to help former felons regain rights they lost when convicted of crimes. Clinic participants will receive information and access to resources to help put them on the path to restoration of their rights. Co-sponsored with the Florida Rights Restoration Project, the clinic is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (May 20) at Middleton High School, 4801 N 22nd St., Tampa.

Jason Fischer: Our kids deserve hope

Over the past few days, many district superintendents and other defenders of the struggling status quo have attacked HB 7069, a bill focused on reforming and improving K-12 education. As a former Duval County School Board member, I am proud to have voted for this bill and urge Gov. Rick Scott to sign it into law.

The notion that this bill will gut public education or undermine public schools is hogwash. Instead, it provides the reform and disruption our K-12 education system desperately needs.

HB 7069 does several positive things: boosts K-12 funding to a record high $24 billion; rewards teachers and principals with bonuses; reduces standardized and computer testing; expands school choice access for special needs and virtual school students; implements mandatory recess for early grades; and provides the needed funding and incentives to attract nationally-proven charter school networks to Florida.

The last provision listed above, known as Schools of Hope,” sets aside money designated for high-performing charters, which can provide high-quality alternatives for students assigned to chronically failing traditional public schools. School districts who wish to convert a chronically failing traditional public school to a district-run charter are also eligible to access this funding should they choose to submit detailed turnaround plans.

My interest in “Schools of Hope” stems from Duval County, which has 10 failing traditional public schools who have earned failing grades for four or more years. One, in particular, has been failing for 10 years, and the parents whose students are assigned to that school have had little to no options to send their children elsewhere.

No parent or child should have to wait 10 years to be assigned to a high-quality school. Furthermore, taxpayers should not be asked to fund failure year in and out when we know there are proven charter networks from around the country who can do better. This is why certain established charter networks like Great Hearts or YES Prep should be given an opportunity to seek out Florida’s underserved communities and provide the education our own schools have failed to deliver.

The only problem is Florida’s charter school funding and accountability models are so restrictive, the nation’s best actors in the charter school realm face too many financial and structural barriers to coming here. “Schools of Hope” will help remedy these challenges.

The bill also rewards Florida’s 165,000+ hardworking teachers and principals with bonuses for the next three years, ranging between $800 and $6,000, based on eligibility, placing more dollars directly in the pockets of our educators.

At the request of many parents and educators, elementary school students will now receive 20 minutes of required daily recess.

The bill adds more flexibility in testing by rolling back some required state assessments, allowing for paper-and-pencil testing in grades 3-6, and giving state tests later in the school year, so students and teachers have more instructional time in the classroom.

Most importantly, the bill extends school choice to more students by ensuring Gardiner Scholarships for special needs students is fully funded, and it removes longtime barriers to accessing virtual school for homeschool and private school students.

What the bill does not do is cut funding to traditional public schools. Duval County will see an $8.3 million boost overall or $16 per pupil increase in funding.

When a child is assigned to a failing school, one day is too long to wait for a better option. If my child was stuck in one of the 10 failure factories in Duval County, I wouldn’t wait 10 years to see if it gets better.

It is a moral disgrace to insist some of our neighbors here in Duval County remain stuck in failing schools for generations because of personal or political vendettas against nontraditional public schools.

We have a moral obligation to give every child an education that equips them to succeed in life. No one should have to wait another day to access that education. We also know that more flexibility at the local level will lead to better student outcomes. That’s why this legislation is in the best interest of Florida’s students.

___

Jason Fischer is a father, businessman, former Duval County School Board member, and current State Representative for House District 16.

Chris Sprowls looks back on successful 2017 Session

Now that the 2017 Legislative Session is in the history books (for the most part), Florida lawmakers are beginning to take stock. And Palm Harbor Republican Chris Sprowls is no different.

Sprowls offers his own post-Session review, in an email to supporters highlighting some of his major legislative actions in the House over the past year.

At the top of the list is HB 221, the landmark ride-sharing legislation co-sponsored by Sprowls and recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

The measure creates a statewide standard for companies like Uber and Lyft, which Sprowls says “ensures safety, convenience, and consistency.”

“I am proud of this bill because it guarantees that anyone in Florida has access to this convenient transportation option should they choose it, in addition to providing an extra source of income for many Floridians looking to make ends meet.

Inspiring Sprowls to bring the bill were conversations with Floridians “who love driving for rideshare companies,” particularly for its flexibility in work times — perfect for people such as single parents, veterans, college students and others.

HB 221 opens the market for ride-sharing jobs, as well as offering a “convenient mode of transportation for Floridians and vacationers alike.”

Most notably, this bill can be a template for ride-sharing bills across the country, Sprowls says.

Another legislative success were reforms to Florida’s death penalty statute, ensuring the state has a “working death penalty law.”

In October 2016, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional — throwing the process into legal ambiguity, putting capital cases in a state of limbo.

Sprowls, a former state attorney, saw this legal instability as a disservice to all involved. HB 527 fixed the state death penalty statute, bringing the law in-line with Constitutional requirements.

Sprowls also introduced legislation to honor Officer Charles Kondek, killed December 2014 in the line of duty.

“Officer Kondek had a decades-long career serving our community,” Sprowls writes, “and it is only fitting that we rename a portion of Alternate 19 so that we always remember his service, sacrifice and legacy.”

The “Officer Charles ‘Charlie K’ Kondek Jr. Memorial Highway” is at U.S. 19A/S.R 595 between Tarpon Avenue and the Pasco County line in Pinellas County.

Sprowls was also among the lawmakers sponsoring a formal apology to the Groveland Four from the 1940s, as well as to the Dozier Boys who suffered torture and abuse at the Dozier School for Boys.

“It was an honor to have the families of the Groveland Four, and the remaining survivors of the Dozier School in Tallahassee a few weeks ago to hear their stories and witness the closure they have so long awaited,” Sprowls writes.

Other victories for Sprowls in the 2017 Session were in ethics and government spending reforms, including passage of sweeping ethics changes and a lobbying ban that is the strictest in the country.

Similarly, Sprowls takes sides in the fight over incentive program funding, touting his support for a state budget which puts an end to “state-funded corporate welfare.”

“Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers,” he writes, “and Enterprise Florida was using your tax dollars to subsidize the operations of large businesses.”

Sprowls, who is in line to be House Speaker in 2020-22, notes that Enterprise Florida has seen a $1.2 million increase in payroll without showing similar gains in job creation.

While Enterprise Florida was intended to be a public-private partnership, Sprowls says that it is indeed funded 90 percent by taxpayers.

“We as a Legislature are tasked with ensuring your hard-earned money is spent wisely and efficiently,” he writes. “Enterprise Florida’s use of your tax dollars was neither.”

Senate Democrats could help block budget veto override – with caveats

Senate Democrats are ready to work with Gov. Rick Scott should he veto the massive education reform bill pushed by House leaders in the final days of the 2017 Session.

Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald reports that Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon is prepared to help prevent an override of Scott’s veto, under the right circumstances.

A chorus of voices are calling Scott to veto HB 7069 — as well as the entire K-12 budget.

If that happens, the 15-member Senate Democratic caucus will be crucial to preventing the Republican-controlled Legislature from overriding a veto.

“We have to have a reason to override,” Braynon told the Herald about his Democratic colleagues. “It would depend on what the veto message looks like and if his vetoes include a bunch of things that matter to Democrats, then we’re not going to override. We’re willing to come back and work.”

Twenty-Six Senate votes are needed to override the governor’s veto, and as Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala publicly saying he would support a veto — and the three Republican senators who voted against HB 7069 — Senate Democrats could very well prevent an override if the voting bloc holds firm.

“We’re not against funding VISIT Florida,” Braynon said. “If the Republicans ask for an override of 7069, we’re not going to do it. If they want an override of the whole budget, we will withhold our judgment on overriding until we see what happens.”

In Tampa, Jay Fant says House ‘out of whack’ for zeroing out funding for Enterprise Florida

Jay Fant was back in Tampa Tuesday night, where he once again registered his disagreement with House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the House vote to zero out funding for Enterprise Florida.

The Jacksonville Republican state representative, speaking to the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee as he starts his campaign for attorney general, said he gets along very well with Corcoran, agreeing with him 90 percent of the time.

But Fant disagrees with the House’s “method of how they handled this budget in relation to the governor’s Enterprise Florida program.”

Enterprise Florida is the public-private state agency handling the state’s business recruitment efforts.

Gov. Rick Scott asked the Legislature for $85 million for Enterprise Florida before Session began earlier this year, but the budget passed by the House provides zero funding for the program.

The amount of money is less than 1/10th of one percent of the entire budget, Fant said, expressing amazement that the impasse could ultimately result in Scott vetoing the entire budget.

“If I sound critical of the House’s approach in this method, then I am,” Fant admitted. “We have education, health, transportation, many good programs that occur in our budget, and if we jeopardize it over a food fight over a meaningful smaller, legitimately debatable item, then I think we’re out of whack, and I think we need to come back and find a compromise, not jeopardize our funding from the state.”

Scott has not indicated if he will veto parts of the budget — or the entire thing. State lawmakers could override the governor’s vetoes in a special session. Republicans control both the House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 79-41, and the Senate, where the GOP is in control by a 24-15 margin.

Republicans control both the House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 79-41, and the Senate, where the GOP is in control by a 24-15 margin.

Fant launched his candidacy for attorney general last week, and Tuesday’s appearance before the Hillsborough GOP group was his second visit in Tampa in the past week.

Also on Tuesday, Fant announced that he had asked retired U.S. Air Force Col. E.J. Otero to serve on his campaign as national security co-chair.

Noah Valenstein set to become next DEP head

Updated May 17 — Valenstein was the only person selected to be interviewed for the job, according to remarks at Wednesday’s Cabinet aides meeting. That means he is a virtual lock for the position. Shut out by the decision is interim secretary Ryan Matthews. The interview will take place at next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

The original story is below.


Noah Valenstein, Gov. Rick Scott‘s former environmental policy coordinator, has the inside track to become the next secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, sources tell FloridaPolitics.com.

Valenstein, now the executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, is the top pick over interim secretary Ryan Matthews.

Scott and the Cabinet in February OK’d Matthews to serve as interim department head to fill in for departing secretary Jon Steverson. He quit in January to join the legal-lobbying firm of Foley & Lardner.

Valenstein attended an August 2014 meeting in which Scott listened to a group of leading Florida scientists talk about climate change.

At the end of that meeting, Scott declined to say whether he had been convinced by scientific evidence that rising sea levels and warming temperatures merit government action.

Scott also later denied that his administration banned agencies under his control from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in public, in emails or in other official documents.

Valenstein, a Gainesville native, graduated with honors from the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and has a law degree from Florida State University.

He interned for both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and past Senate President Toni Jennings in the late 1990s.

Valenstein has lobbied for the Department of Environmental Protection and worked for the Florida House of Representatives (including as deputy policy chief for environmental issues) before leaving for private legal practice.

He’s been a board member of the Everglades Trust, worked for the Everglades Foundation, briefly owned a polling and research company and consulted on policy for Scott’s re-election campaign, according to his resume.

The governor and Cabinet have agreed to aim on a DEP hire during the May 23 Cabinet meeting.

In Tampa, public officials blast education bill, urge Rick Scott veto

A host of political and education issues came together Tuesday in West Tampa to trash the massive $419 million public education bill that GOP lawmakers unveiled and passed in the final days of the Legislative Session.

“This is the mother of all education bills, ” said Rep. Sean Shaw. The Tampa Democrat was referring to House Bill 7069, a 278-page conforming bill agreed to in secret and barely surviving a vote in the Senate before the Legislature adjourned earlier this month.

HB 7069, a massive 278-page education conforming bill that was agreed to in secret, barely survived a full vote in the Senate. Public school officials throughout the state have blasted the bill for its enormous incentives for privately run charter schools.

As a freshman who just completed his first session in the Florida House, Shaw said that the way he thought things were supposed to work in Tallahassee is that a bill is introduced in a committee and goes through other committees. Then, if it survives that process, the bill is ultimately voted on in the House and/or Senate.

Not this time.

“Not only is it filled with bad policy, the procedure with which it was done was way out of wack,” Shaw lamented.

Three members of the Hillsborough County School Board — Susan Valdes, Sally Harris and Cindy Stuart — all appeared at the news conference held at West Tampa Elementary.

On Monday, the Florida School Boards Association became the latest organization calling on Gov. Rick Scott to veto HB 7069. In addition to criticizing the lack of transparency in the crafting of the bill, the FSBA have an issue on how Title 1 dollars would be spent if the bill passed.

“The way that the state has now taken a federal law and reregulated it basically at the state level is going to siphon millions and millions of dollars away from our schools that have the highest concentration of poverty,” said a concerned Jeff Eakins, the superintendent of the Hillsborough County School District.

Another controversial provision allocates $140 million for the House’s “schools of hope” proposal, aimed mostly at encouraging charter schools with a track record of helping academically struggling students. The measure would help open branches of charter schools near traditional schools that continually do poorly on state report cards.

“So if we’re going to incentive the charter school that works down the street from a ‘failing school,’ what happens to the failing school that we’ve given no funds to get better?” asked a frustrated Shaw. “What happens in the next five years? The next 10 years?

“This harmful education bill continues to divert our tax dollars from our public schools, many going to for-profit corporations that act as charter schools,” said Tampa-area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

Mindy Taylor, an advocate for the Alliance for Public Schools, says her organization is most concerned about parental engagement, increasing funding for public schools, and maintaining local control of schools.

“The provision in HB 7069 violate each of these priorities,” Taylor said.

Eakins stated that Hillsborough receives about $8 million annually for a recruitment retention program to lure nationally certified teachers to teach in some of the county’s poorest area. “That’s $8 million we will not be able to use in that particular program,” he said. “The impact is going to be real.”

Other provisions in the bill include additional funding for social services at a limited number of traditional public schools that are failing, an expanded bonus program for teachers and principals, restrictions on teacher tenure-like policies, a recess mandate for elementary schools, and the elimination of a required high school math exam.

A report from POLITICO on Monday indicated that Scott may, in fact, veto HB 7069.

“We’ve got to make sure we properly fund education, whether we have a great state college system, we have a great K-12 system,” the governor said. “We’ve got to continue to do that.”

Rick Scott announces Jackie Schutz Zeckman as next chief of staff

(Photo via LinkedIn)

Jackie Schutz Zeckman has been tapped to serve as Gov. Rick Scott’s right hand woman.

The Naples Republican announced Tuesday that Schutz Zeckman will serve has his chief of staff beginning July 1. She’ll replace Kim McDougal, Scott’s current chief of staff, who is departing to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

“Jackie has been on my team since my first year in office and has done a great job leading my communications efforts and conveying my vision of Florida as the best destination for families and businesses. Along with her work on my communications team,” said Scott in a statement announcing the promotion. “Jackie was an integral part of my reelection efforts and has continued to be a trusted advisor in all aspects of implementing our agenda for Florida. I have full confidence that she will do an outstanding job as my Chief of Staff.”

A Florida native, she received a bachelor’s degree in political science and religion from Florida State University, and her master’s degree from the London School of Economics. She worked on President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, spent time in Gov. Jeb Bush’s communications shop, and even worked in the House of Commons in the Parliament.

She joined Scott’s communications team in 2011, after nearly two years with CoreMessage. She worked her way through the ranks, serving as deputy press secretary and press secretary, before she was named the governor’s director of communications in 2014.

“Jackie is a huge asset to any organization, she was an incredible team member at CoreMessage,” said Cory Tilley, president of CoreMessage in a statement. “She will be a superb Chief of Staff for Governor Scott.  Jackie will bring absolute loyalty, a sharp policy and political antenna, dedication and a relentless work ethic as the new top staffer for the Governor. We certainly wish her the best.”

In 2014, she served as his re-election campaign’s deputy communications director.

Schutz Zeckman will be Scott’s sixth chief of staff in just over six years of office, and comes on board as Scott is believed to be mulling a 2018 U.S. Senate run. She’s a friend and ally of Scott’s top political advisor, Melissa Stone. Stone was recently tapped to serve as the executive director of New Republican, the federal super PAC that Scott chairs.

McDougal’s last day is July 1, according to the Governor’s Office.

Rick Scott ducks announcing Jackie Schutz as Chief of Staff in Jax, does it by email

Rick Scott press gaggle on the road typically lasts between five and ten minutes, and rarely offers deep insight into what’s coming next from the Governor’s Office.

Tuesday’s gaggle in Jacksonville was no exception to that rule, with less-than-clarifying answers to questions regarding who the next chief of staff will be, who the next CFO will be, his disposition on his successor as Governor, and legislation from Tallahassee that he may or may not veto.

When asked about the hot rumors for Chief of Staff and CFO (Jackie Schutz and Pat Neal, respectively), Scott wasn’t in any hurry to show his hold cards … remarkable especially as Schutz stood inside the gaggle.

“On the CFO, I’ll make the right decision at the time there is an opening. In regard to chief of staff, I’ll be making that announcement soon,” Scott said.

Soon apparently was minutes later, via email.

Governor Scott said in a statement: “Jackie has been on my team since my first year in office and has done a great job leading my communications efforts and conveying my vision of Florida as the best destination for families and businesses. Along with her work on my communications team, Jackie was an integral part of my reelection efforts and has continued to be a trusted advisor in all aspects of implementing our agenda for Florida. I have full confidence that she will do an outstanding job as my Chief of Staff.”

On the race for Governor, we asked Scott his dispensation on a potential GOP primary donnybrook between Adam Putnam and Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“There’s going to be a lot of people. It’s a great job. If you care about people, it’s the right job to have. I hope the next Governor is somebody who’s going to focus on jobs. It’s the most important thing,” Scott said.

Joe Henderson: If Rick Scott stands on principle, then he must use budget veto pen

Take your seats, folks. This is going to be good. We are about to find out who is the boss in Florida.

If Gov. Rick Scott wants to remind everyone in the Legislature who has the most stripes on their shoulder, then he has to follow through on his threat to start vetoing major — or all — parts of the $82.4 billion budget presented to him by the House and Senate.

Special session? Bring it on.

The budget eviscerates two of Scott’s most cherished programs — VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida. It is a direct frontal assault on public education, laughingly in the name of “reform.” There are so many damaging aspects to this bill, picking it apart piece by piece could take days.

Educators are lining up, bullhorns at the ready, to plead with Scott to just veto the 278-page conforming bill they say will cut public schools to the marrow. House Speaker Richard Corcoran calls it “transformational” and released an explaining that all those “liberals” have it wrong. It’s going to be great.

Does he mean those well-known liberals from the Tea Party? Yes, even the Tea Party Network tweeted that the bill is a “monstrosity” and called for it to be vetoed.

The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association called it “a budget that will be devastating to public schools, our students.”

Hello!

Scott can score lots of points with educators if he turns thumbs-down on this budget (consider that alliance for a moment, will you). He also can make a potent argument about preserving the $100 million he wants for VISIT Florida. In a budget of nearly $83 billion, it’s not a great amount of money and, considering that Florida just had a record year for tourism, something must be working.

It’s tricky, though.

During Scott’s sparring with Corcoran during the Legislative Session, the Speaker won nearly every round. If Scott were to veto the budget, he would risk having the Legislature override that with a two-thirds vote (pretty good chance it could happen, too).

What’s it going to be — capitulation or principle?

We got here because Corcoran stood on his core principle of lower spending, no corporate welfare, and a move toward privatization of, well, everything — especially schools.

Scott should stand on his principles as well. If the Legislature overrides it, well, the governor can at least say he did all he could. It won’t be his fault if tourism falls off, and the blood from the mess this budget makes of education will be on the hands of the lawmakers who voted in favor of “transformational” change.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons