Welcome to The Dean's List -- an Ed Dean-style look at who Florida's political achievers were (and weren't) in the last seven days. What you see here is strictly my opinion, not necessarily the editor's or the rest of the staff at Sunshine State News.
THOSE WHO MADE THE LIST
Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds. This judge threw out a lawsuit by the Florida Education Association (FEA) which contended that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTCS) program is unconstitutional. The FTCS is a voucher program that helps 70,000 children attend private schools. The program relies on businesses donating money to help children attend better schools with the state matching these contributions. Reynolds noted in his ruling that the lawsuit was vague and the teachers'union could not prove that the tax-credit scholarship program would divert money that otherwise would go to public schools. Its the right decision, especially for children across the Sunshine State.
State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach. Last Wednesday, Mayfield told a small group of Treasure Coast local elected officials that she never realized until she became the chair of the House Local Government Affairs Subcommittee, how much Tallahassee throws mandates on local government. She said state government leaders dont like it when the federal government hands down its own mandates and Tallahassee should stop shoving ridiculous mandates onto local municipalities. Many state politicians could learn a thing or two from Mayfields realization.
Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla. In a recent Tampa Bay Times op-ed against Medicaid expansion, LeMieux, who could be running for his old job in 2016, showed what will happen if Florida accepts the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.LeMieux showed how the feds would pay 100 percent of the costs for the first three years but then back off the costs.
The budgetary burden of expanding Medicaid in the out years will force Florida to cut other programs, raise taxes, or both," LeMieux wrote. The offer of free money for the first few years is 'poison candy' -- alluring at first, but detrimental in the end. Instead of expanding Medicaid, Florida should do a better job managing the current system.
THOSE WHO DIDNT MAKE THE LIST
Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando. The Senate Republican had an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel about the many advantages Medicaid expansion provides Florida. Gardiner even insisted Medicaid expansion would become an economic generator for the state and it would create tens of thousands of jobs.
Gardiner is now making the same case that Obamacare supporters like former Gov. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have made. These claims are not new and havent been proven, even in the states which have accepted Medicaid expansion.
Florida Democrats. Not a good week for Florida Democrats. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. says he doesnt earn enough and wants a pay raise. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clintons poll numbers are starting to slip in Florida. Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown got thrown out of office and, despite party leaders trying to get him out, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is keeping the door open to running for the Senate. The Democrats claimed momentum after the Legislature left Tallahassee without passing a budget but May hasnt been a good month for them.
The Coalition for Quality Public Education. Insisting the Collier County School Board has become too far right wing, the Coalition for Quality Public Education is calling for a more moderate approach. The group is led by activists from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the local American Civil Liberties Union. No surprise, the coalition is calling for less religion in schools. But the coalition goes too far in complaining that the School Board pays too much attention and sends too many dollars to charter schools, even calling charter schools a threat to other public schools. Actually, charter schools are helping provide quality education -- exactly what the coalition is supposed to be fighting for.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with SSN whose talk-show can be heard on radio stations across Florida, can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.