In politics as in life, there’s almost nothing worse than someone who won’t take responsibility for their own ideas. Meanwhile, wouldn’t anyone like to have lunch with the Mittster?
Florida Governor Rick Scott will veto more than $350 million in spending as he signs a $69.7 billion budget into law. In so doing, Scott will call on the money to be put back into education — which the budget-slashing governor breathtakingly claims was cut by others, and not because he wanted it done. The cuts will hit hard in places like Broward County (TRR’s home county) — where 1,400 teachers are getting pink slips, and in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in the politically crucial I-4 corridor.
The cuts are bad enough. Scott’s disingenuous response to them is far worse:
“I’m going to suggest all that money oughta be put back into education, where we need to make sure we are educating our kids and we have the best educated workforce in the country,” Scott said on 92.5 FOX NEWS in Fort Myers.
But Scott can only veto spending, he can’t shift money in the budget. To put that money back into schools, lawmakers would have to re-open a contentious budget process.
That’s unlikely for a number of reasons, including this one: Lawmakers spent more on schools this year than Scott recommended in his budget proposal. Plus, Scott did not once publicly ask lawmakers to increase education spending. Instead, he spent the final weeks of the legislative session threatening to veto the entire budget if it did not include tax cuts.
Scott, however, is probably feeling the pressure from parents. Districts around the state are laying off workers. One district in the Panhandle, Santa Rosa County, is shortening the school day because of state budget cuts.
But Scott says its not his fault if teachers get fired. He suggested in several interviews this week that school district officials are too worried about their own jobs. “Our local school districts have got to focus on putting teachers in the classroom and not focus on administration,” Scott said this morning on Orlando’s AM 580 WBDO. “We’ve got to make sure that in every one of our school districts the money is spent well.”
Other notes from this morning:
• Scott wants to spend more on education, but he also suggested that he’ll going to veto about $130 million in construction projects for colleges and universities. “I’m not doing things that raise our debt in the state,” Scott told the Fort Myers station.
Jackonville’s WOKV reported that the college construction projects were likely to go because Scott said he was worried the projects will hurt the state’s bond rating and cost more in interest payments. “It’s one of the things I’ll be talking about this afternoon,” Scott said.
• Another candidate for the veto ax: a $150 million raid from the transportation trust fund. Instead of using that money on road projects, lawmakers spent the cash on budget shortfalls. “We got to make sure that we have the money for infrastructure in our state, this state is going to be one of the fastest growing states again,” Scott told WOKV.
But here’s what Scott didn’t say: Lawmakers spend some of that transportation money on schools. So if Scott vetoes the trust fund sweep, it would mean more cuts to education.
It probably goes without saying that few Floridians would covet a lunch date with the Bald Menace. But a new Mason-Dixon poll has interesting data on who would get an invite, and by whom:
QUESTION: Among these announced or rumored contenders for President in 2012, which one would you most like to have a one-on-one conversation with over lunch?
NATION DEM REP IND
Barack Obama 53% 85% 25% 48%
Sarah Palin 6% 5% 27% 16%
Mitt Romney 9% 2% 19% 8%
Ron Paul 6% 1% 9% 7%
Tim Pawlenty 3% - 7% 3%
Newt Gingrich 2% - 4% 2%
Michelle Bachman 1% – 3% 1%
None/Not Sure 10% 7% 6% 15%
To review, Republicans would rather eat with President Obama — who they loathe — than sit down to lunch with Mitt, Ron Paul, TPaw, Newt or Michele Bachmann. They’re only barely more interested in eating with Sarah Palin. And Independents? It’s not even close.