Florida governor’s budget boosts cash for corporate welfare

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog ST. PETERSBURG — If Gov. Rick Scott has his way, Floridians will be paying a little more for their government this year. Just over $4.2 billion more, to be exact. FIRST MOVE: Scott proposes $4.2 billion in increased spending in 2013. (photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr) That’s the final figure from his recommended budget released last week and totaling $74.2 billion, the largest in Florida history. The budget was granted its very own domain name: FloridaFamiliesFirst.com. Within the 352-page proposal are large increases for education, transportation, healthcare mandates and tax incentives and subsidies for private industry. The $1.7 billion […]

FL: Scott credits state job growth to government ‘partners’

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog PUBLIC HELP: Scott says government partnerships have helped thousands of jobs across the state. ST. PETERSBURG — Jobs numbers are growing, public debt is under control and Gov. Rick Scott is making sure the government can claim the credit. Since Dec. 2010, unemployment in Florida has dropped faster than all other states, thanks to robust partnerships between government and businesses, according to the governor. “During the past year, Enterprise Florida and its economic development partners excelled in creating and retaining jobs for Florida families,” wrote Scott in a news release. He credits Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development […]

FL: Scott draws heat for Colombia trade trip

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog ST. PETERSBURG — Critics are blasting Gov. Rick Scott for takingoff on yet another foreign trade mission, this time to the booming Latin American tiger of Colombia. Critics view these kinds of trips at public expense as troubling for the average taxpayer, not just for the temporary costs, but also because of the chance of larger subsidies to preferential companies. “Politicians should not involve themselves in creating partnerships with foreign businesses,” said Dean Stansel, professor of economics at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. “This creates great potential for corruption.” Stansel told FloridaWatchdog the trip distorts the essential role of government, allowing […]

FL: Is Rick Scott bucking the party line on immigration or faced with realities of office?

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog TAMPA— It seems that after 17 months in office, Gov. Rick Scott is ready to change his mind as to what constitutes immigration reform. Surrounded by reporters after addressing the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials inOrlando on June 22, Scottexpressed a much more pragmatic approach to dealing with immigration than was heard in his initial election campaign. “Number one, the federal government needs to have a national, secure borders. Two, have an immigration policy that everybody understands – Americans and people who come to our country. Three, we need to make sure we have a work-visa program that […]

FL: Removing non-U.S. citizens from voter rolls has majority support in Sunshine State

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog TAMPA— Sixty percent of Florida voters support Gov. Rick Scott‘s efforts to remove non- U.S. citizens from county voter registration rolls, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. The release of the poll on Wednesday coincides with the myriad of lawsuits filed against and on behalf of the governor’s campaign to enact voter fraud reform in the Sunshine State. Conducted with 1,697 registered voters from June 12-18, the survey calculates that 90 percent of Republicans support the governor’s voter reform, while 60 percent of Democrats oppose him. The poll also found that Scott’s approval rating remains steady […]

FL: Rick Scott defends voter reforms on CNN, Fox News

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog Florida Gov. Rick Scott responds to questions about his voter reforms being blocked by the federal government during an interview Tuesday with Christine Romans, host of CNN’s “Starting Point.” TAMPA— In the past two days, Gov. Rick Scott has been busy on the national airwaves defending his attempts to legitimize voter rolls in Florida. This follows the U.S. Department of Justice‘s request that the state of Florida halt its verification of voters on county registration lists, outlined in aMay 31 letter addressed to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner. In response to the letter, the FloridaDepartment of State filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department […]

Scott on CNBC: Florida really is the place to do business

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog TALLAHASSEE– Florida Gov. Rick Scott took to CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday morning, seizing the opportunity to tout the latest job numbers in the state. He received praise from interviewer Joe Kernen on taxes and regulations, and even criticized President Barack Obama’s narrow focus on student loan interest rates. “People want a job, and that’s what I’m trying to do here,” said Scott. “We’re going to let everybody in our state know where the jobs are. Read more: Watchdog.org

Court strikes down drug testing for FL state workers

By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog TAMPA — Florida Gov. Rick Scott was dealt a blow Thursday morning when a federal judge declared unconstitutional mandatory drug screening for state employees. The ruling, handed down by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in the Southern District of Florida, issues a permanent injunction on the drug tests, which were required by an executive order in March 2011. “The executive order does not identify a concrete danger that must be addressed by suspicionless drug-testing of state employees,” Ungaro wrote in the ruling. Read more: Watchdog.org