State of Florida itself at stake on November 4

TAMPA, Fla. – The past four years have been rough for Floridians. Millions are still left uninsured, women’s rights have been curtailed, the environment continues to deteriorate, and the education system continues to underperform.

Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, has either stood by and let this degradation of the state occur or has actively contributed to it. Floridians must do whatever they can before the election in November to assure that Scott will not maintain his access to the governor’s office. We can’t take four more years of this.

Despite some lip service, Rick Scott has done nothing to expand Medicaid in the state of Florida. His inaction and unwillingness to push the state legislature to expand Medicaid has been a huge detriment to Floridians who are unable to access the medical care they deserve and badly need. 

According to the Washington Post, an estimated 1.3 million Floridians were set to finally receive health insurance through the expansion. Because of inaction by the legislature and no movement from Rick Scott, however, they continue to slip through the cracks. Additionally, the White House estimated earlier this year that Scott and House Republicans’ unwillingness to expand Medicaid will also cost Florida 63,000 jobs. That’s what happens when your governor and state legislature leave $66.1 billion in funding on the table due to their own inaction and willful attempt to make progressive policies fail.

What Rick Scott has taken action on, however, are measures to drug test recipients of public assistance. This is despite the fact that there is no evidence that drug use among recipients of public assistance is a widespread problem. In fact, only 2.6 percent of all tested recipients tested positive for drugs. Florida saved no money by implementing these drug tests: the program ended up costing more than it saved. However, there is money to be made in the drug testing business for some, including by Solantic, a company previously owned by Rick Scott but which was conveniently placed in the hands of his wife in 2010. So not only does Rick Scott demean Florida’s impoverished population, his family gets to profit from it as well.

Rick Scott is also the governor of a state barely above sea level. Surrounded by seawater, Florida is the most vulnerable state in the United States when it comes to climate change. The governor clings to the delusion that climate change doesn’t exist despite 13,926 peer-reviewed scientific articles that beg to differ. Scott’s delusional attitude toward climate change probably explains why Scott’s Environmental Protection Agency has no specific program to deal with climate change. Do we need a governor that says “I’m not convinced that there’s any man-made climate change”? Another problem with Rick Scott’s administration: he has monetary ties to companies like Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s largest oil service company that was recently involved in fracking operations in South Florida.

Women across the state have suffered under Rick Scott’s leadership. Scott slashed funds for rape crisis centers in the state – and he did this during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Scott has also pushed a harmful anti-choice agenda that leaves Florida’s women with limited ability to exercise their right to bodily autonomy. In 2011, he signed a bill requiring costly and emotionally manipulative ultrasounds for women seeking abortion procedures. Just this year he signed another harmful anti-choice bill that prohibits abortion procedures after 24 weeks gestation unless the woman’s life is at risk. These slights will only continue if Rick Scott is re-elected as governor, and that’s something Florida women just cannot afford.

Florida’s children have been short-changed under Rick Scott’s administration. In 2011, Scott proposed a budget that included $1.75 billion in cuts to K-12 education. The governor has recently been touting supposed “record funding” for education after approving $18.8 billion for education for 2014-15. However, this change of heart isn’t fooling anyone. Funding for education is still lower per-pupil than it was under former governor Charlie Crist.

Same-sex couples have been thrown under the bus by Scott and his Attorney General Pam Bondi as both are fighting to maintain Florida’s same-sex marriage ban.

The state of Florida itself is at stake in this upcoming election. Floridians cannot let leadership fall into the hands of someone like Rick Scott for another four years!

Photo: Volunteer passes out “Medicaid Matters” signs to attendees at the start of the kickoff for “Moral Monday” March 3, in the Capitol Courtyard in Tallahassee, Florida,  over concerns about health care and Medicaid expansion (AP Photo/Phil Sears)