Whack back on Nov. 5
By Stephen Goldstein for the Florida Sun-Sentinel
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Columnist Stephen Goldstein Stephen Goldstein
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Oct 2, 2002
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Whack back on Nov. 5
Published October 16, 2002
Bushwhacked-Floridians are worse off than we were four years ago. Thanks to Jeb Bush's voodoo economics, smoke-and-mirrors education reforms, environmental poison pills and right-wing pandering, the state is in shambles. Florida needs regime change. Here are 24 reasons to vote the governor out of office on Nov. 5.
1. Jeb has turned the $3 billion surplus he inherited from Lawton Chiles into a deficit of between $1.4 billion and $4 billion.
2. The governor has engineered multibillion-dollar tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthiest Floridians.
3. Florida's pension fund lost $355 million on its Enron investments, buying shares in the company when everyone was selling.
4. The average wage in Florida has dropped to just 87 percent of the national norm.
5. Florida is one of only 12 states in which median household income declined in 2001.
6. The governor promised to eliminate the backlog of 11,000 seniors on the waiting list for services through the Department of Elder Affairs. Today, the list has swelled to over 14,000.
7. Health insurance costs are spiraling out-of-control.
8. Jeb's prescription drug plan covers only 68,000 seniors, barely 2.5 percent of the state's older population.
9. In spite of Bushian buzzwords about improving education (FCAT, A+ Plan, vouchers and charter schools), Florida's high-school graduation rate has slipped from 44th to the worst in America.
10. SAT scores have dropped from 40th to 47th; ACT scores, from 35th to 38th.
11. Pre-Jeb, Florida was 29th nationally in spending per pupil; in 2001, it fell to 40th.
12. The governor's alleged $3 billion increase in education funding is a figment of his imagination. Factor in inflation and student growth, and the money allocated per student has risen less than one-quarter of one percent.
13. Class size in Florida schools, among the worst in the nation, dropped from 42nd in 1998 to 44th in 2001.
14. Research cited by the U.S. Department of Education concludes that reducing class size to below 20 students leads to higher achievement, but the governor says he has "devious plans" to flout the constitutional amendment reducing class size if it passes Nov. 5 and he is re-elected.
15. Florida's teacher salaries have dropped from 28th to 31st in the nation.
16. A national study of higher education gave Florida a D- because of relatively high college costs and a D+ because comparatively few state residents go to college.
17. The governor has grabbed the power to appoint everyone on the state's 26 judicial nominating commissions, so he can stack the courts with right-wing judges opposed to abortion and likely to push a conservative agenda.
18. Candidate Bush promised to fix Florida's foster-care system in six months; Gov. Bush let the Department of Children & Families become a national scandal.
19. On the environment, Jeb talks the conservation talk, but doesn't walk the walk. In public, he says the right things; behind the scenes, he pushes developers' agendas.
20. The governor has appointed anti-environmentalists to water management districts, the Environmental Regulatory Commission and judgeships.
21. Ignoring the objections of more than 100 environmental and citizens' groups, Jeb signed a law which funds the state's portion of Everglades restoration, but includes a "poison pill" that restricts Floridians' ability to challenge developers who submit anti-environmental permit requests.
22. Violent crime in the state increased at six times the national average from 2001 to 2002.
23. For the first time since 1996, overall crime incidence in Florida increased.
24. The governor claims his 10-20-Life law has led to a decrease in gun crime, but the firearm crime rate was on the decline before 10-20-Life and actually increased in 2001 -- for the first time since 1997.
In 1998, candidate Jeb asked you to give him four years, so he could create a better Florida. Many of you kept your end of the bargain; he didn't. "Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me." -- the truth of the adage should not be lost on voters.
Stop the bushwhacking: Whack Bush out of office on Nov. 5.
Stephen L. Goldstein's commentaries are broadcast on "South Florida Today" on WXEL-Ch. 42. E-mail him at email@example.com.