...The reality is Scott failed to show up at his own summit to listen to the concerns of school superintendents and others. Instead he ate dinner privately with former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose passion for education is unquestioned even if some of his views are controversial.
This year's per student funding is the highest of Scott's three years as governor. But it is still lower than each of the five previous years under his predecessors, Charlie Crist and Bush. Scott also signed into law the legislation that siphons off school construction money to privately run charter schools. And the governor's last two hand-picked education commissioners have shown more interest in advocating for charter schools and expanding voucher programs than in creating successful public schools.
Now there is another interim education commissioner, and the revolving door in Tallahassee leaves local school districts without clear direction from the state. Will Scott fold on Common Core and the student assessments needed to make them work?
...The governor decimated growth management and eliminated the agency that enforced it. He fought the federal government over clean-water standards, neutered the water management districts by slashing their tax base and manipulated the regulatory process to put politics above science. His money for Florida's springs is hardly meaningful. The deal he cut with the federal government on restoring the Everglades put the deadline off again. And to raise money to buy sensitive lands, the state's solution is to sell land it already owns.
Scott is still looking at toll roads to nowhere across the middle of Florida. The state still has no cohesive energy policy. And the governor's environmental agency is more focused on quickly approving the requests of developers than on protecting wetlands. A news conference on one worthy project cannot mask years of bad policy.
...Scott inaccurately claims he is more than halfway toward meeting his pledge of creating 700,000 jobs, and he keeps cranking out the news releases. Last week: 100 jobs at Boeing in Miami; 105 new air cargo jobs in Orlando; 200 jobs at technology company Citrix in Fort Lauderdale. The week before that: 40 jobs at the moving and storage company PODS in Clearwater.
Many of the jobs Scott counts won't be created for years, if ever, and the bigger picture is darker. The state's unemployment rate has been stuck at 7.1 percent for three months, better than the national average of 7.4 percent. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the labor force expanded in the Tampa Bay area, Jacksonville and Orlando in the past year but in other areas — South Florida, the Panhandle, Bradenton, Sarasota and Lakeland — the labor force contracted. And the jobless rate in Pasco and Hernando counties is still 8 percent or higher.
Scott's heavy-handed attempt to lure companies from other states is a public relations nightmare, and it isn't working. While Florida now has roughly as many jobs as before the recession, people earn less and there are more part-time jobs. Jobs in the low-paying leisure and hospitality sectors are up. Better paying jobs in construction, manufacturing and professional/business services are still down...
...Scott sat by as House Speaker Will Weatherford blocked expansion, and he has dropped the issue. What the governor has done is reject millions in federal dollars to implement health care reform and left the creation of an insurance exchange to the federal government. He also foolishly signed into law a ban on state regulation of health insurance rates for two years.
New U.S. Census figures show nearly 1 in 4 Floridians lack health insurance, the second highest rate in the nation. Hospitals in Orlando, Vero Beach and elsewhere are laying off workers and reducing pay in part because the new Medicaid dollars aren't coming.
Scott isn't expanding access to health care. He is working against it. He is making it harder for hospitals to make ends meet, harder for the uninsured to get coverage and harder for businesses to comply with the federal law...
Here's my two cents: this commentary needs to be on the front of every Florida newspaper between now and Election Day 2014. We need to remind Floridians that Rick Scott is not in this for the state, he's in it for himself and he'll f-ck us over to get it. Pardon my Swedish.