by Benjamin J. Kirby
The vaguely uncomfortable-to-watch Romney Veepstakes are in full effect. I don't know about you, but I figure the guy just about has to pick Marco Rubio, the junior Senator from Florida. And even though Public Policy Polling, via Jed Lewison at DailyKos, says that a Rubio pick doesn't necessarily lift Romney, since the man is trailing Obama here in the Sunshine State by five, he's got to do something.
Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post says there are nine swing states to watch for 2012, and he's probably right. Of course, Florida's on the list, as it should be. If I had the chance to ask Chris a question, I might see if he'd rank those nine, from most swing-iest to least. I'd be willing to bet Florida would be at or near the top. We certainly have the most electoral votes (29) of those nine.
If you want to drill down further into the Florida numbers, not to mention geography, then you must go read Steve Schale's piece on the Orlando area.
At any rate, you'd think given what's at stake here in Florida -- perhaps as much as the Presidency itself -- that the Republicans would sort of get their act together a bit more around issues that, you know, actually matter to people.
Not so with the hospital grifter, our governor, Rick Scott, who signed a $70 billion state budget, along with $142.7 million in vetoes, yesterday. From the Steve Bousquet and Kim Wilmath article in the Times:
Surrounded by photogenic 5-year-olds, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed what he called an "education budget" that adds $1 billion in public school spending and allows higher tuition at state colleges and universities.
Scott also vetoed nearly $143 million in line-item projects championed by fellow Republicans in the Legislature that he said did not benefit the state as a whole or weren't worth the investment. He vetoed grants for autism, Alzheimer's care, disadvantaged youths, clinics, courthouse, road and seaport improvements, the Florida Aquarium in Tampa and a Bay of Pigs museum in Miami.
Okay, one: it doesn't really "allow" higher tuition. It means higher tuition, as noted in the next paragraph ("The $70 billion budget includes a 5 percent tuition increase at state colleges."). Two, he also vetoed millions of dollars worth of... education funding. To wit:
- Degree completion pilot program includes USF, St. Pete College: $2,500,000
- Requiring 7th Graders to Receive Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine: $950,000
- Life/Educational/Workforce Needs for Residential Students: $450,000
- Access to Legal Assistance for the Poor: $2,000,000
- Natural Habitat & Environmental Center/St. Pete College: $100,000
- Grants and Aids to Library Cooperatives: $1,500,000
- Grants and Aids for Medical Training and Labs: $3,000,000
- PhD program in biomedical science: $560,000
- University of Miami/Marine Science program: $90,000
- Center for Digital Learning and Education: $2,000,000
- NOVA Southeastern University: $2,000,000
- Univ. of Miami Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Project: $500,000
- Student Training and Rural Center operations: $$1,600,000
- Dr. J.B. Callahan Neighborhood Center in Parramore: $1,000,000
Look, that's a few million bucks there out of nearly $143 million. I look at that list and mostly I think it's just a small-minded pettiness, the kind I can't stand in politicians who say, as Scott did, this is too regional, or, it doesn't benefit the whole state. Bullshit. Tell it to the kids at St. Petersburg College, or the 7th graders with meningitis, or a doctoral student working on her dissertation in biomedical science (you'd really think a former hospital administrator would get that, but I guess not). Or the girl with ulcerative colitis. Or the librarians.
I put the last one there on the list, a neighborhood center in Parramore (Orlando), because as it happens, I've toured that center. I've seen it. I've been there, and what I can tell you is that the brief descriptor line for each veto I have above does them poor justice.
It's not just some neighborhood center with a dude's name on it in Orlando. It is key component of the model based on Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone that is all but working miracles in New York City.
An "education budget"? Give me a damn break.
[ASIDE: It's not education, but an interesting veto was $250,000 for security for the Presidential debate. Does this mean the governor won't be making an endorsement for president this year?]
This shouldn't surprise anyone. I wrote about it a few months ago (here and here). But what does this budget mean politically? Well, yeah, Florida is a battleground state, and we're growing and changing to be sure. But just like everyone else in the country, we don't like being lied to.
And, just like everyone else in the country, we're struggling. A tuition hike? Who but a hopelessly out of touch hospital grifter governor would sign such a budget? Who but a vindictive sociopath would veto that money? Middle class families trying to send their kids to college need help, not a boot in the ass.
My guess is, no matter who Romney picks as his VP, the Florida families whose kids got screwed in this budget will remember with great disdain the party of the hospital grifter and the legislative "leaders" who produced this abomination.