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Rhetoric flies, party lines divide with budget debate

by John Kennedy | May 6th, 2011

Working into the night on the legislative session’s 60th and final day,  the House and Senate debated the $69.7 billion budget — the lone bill by law the Legislature must pass each year.

The rhetoric flew in both chambers, with the partisan lines clearly marked. A final vote isn’t expected until after 10 p.m.

Ruling Republicans praised the spending plan for closing a $3.8 billion shortfall, including no-new-taxes, and managing to avoid deep cuts to programs serving critically ill, elderly and disabled Floridians.

“Contained within this budget is the seed for a money tree,” said Rep. Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, touting the blueprint’s economic development potential.

Democrats, though,  ridiculed the plan for cutting $1.3 billion from schools, reducing dollars for environmental programs, and imposing 3 percent pay cuts on 655,000 government employees who will have to contribute to the Florida Retirement System for the first time since 1974.

Rep.  Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, has stung House Republican leaders several times this session by accusing them of “sticking it” to various segments of Floridians.

He used the phrase to criticize Republicans for enacting new pay standards for teachers, and changes Clemens and other critics said were aimed at reducing womens’ access to abortion.

“It’s a great day in the state of Florida,” Clemens told the House on Friday afternoon, “because this is the last day I can ask ‘who are we sticking it to today?’ Unfortunately, the answer is Floridians.”

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11 Responses to “Rhetoric flies, party lines divide with budget debate”

  1. Bill Neubauer Says:

    I’m disappointed in Jeff Clemens accusing Republicans of “sticking it to” various Florida groups. He is unfortunately like the Democrats in Congress, who criticize anybody who feels the need to balance the budget because of economic doldrums–without suggesting how else to balance the budget.
    It’s a too-common flaw among Americans, who have become accustomed to living “high on the hog” and have no concept of a necessity for belt tightening.
    I hate it, too, when they equate good education with money. Too often the money has to filter through layers of administration without reaching teachers and students, but legislators strut because they have “helped education.” It ain’t money; it’s standards that are too low with the result that “Johnny can’t read.”

  2. Steve R Says:

    As I debated with Jeff during the campaign, the problem with education isn’t a lack of money. It’s that too much of the money is spent on administrators and not quality teachers, paid based on merit.
    We’ve wasted more than enough taxpayer dollars on the imagined threat of “manmade climate change”. It’s great that the legislature has cut that.
    And state employees paying into their pension plan, money they will get back when they retire, is not a “pay cut”.
    The rhetoric of Clemens and the rest of his party is empty and voters have already seen through it.

  3. Guy Says:

    Well, the cons in office managed to put a 3% tax on 1/10 of the entire Florida workforce. I am sure that will spur growth and spending. Check out some of the other awesome things your Reps and Governor did for you to create jobs:

    1. Banned baggy pants.
    2. Restricted abortion rights.
    3. Decided on a state frog.
    4. Cut education by 10%.
    5. Moved the State supreme Court from one building to another.
    6. Laid off roughly 10000 state employees.
    7. Tried to do away with the 3rd branch of government because it does not think exactly like the other two. Or rather it thinks, unlike the other two branches.
    8. Curbed voting rights.

    Way to go guys! I’m sure jobs galore will spring from your efforts!

  4. Jason Says:

    Clemens is good on the talk but not a smart guy. Look it what he left to Lake Worth. He can’t balance a budget or keep a job forget about creating one.

  5. uhhhhm Says:

    Wow, the teabaggers are out in force.
    Bill N., the Florida Constitution requires a balanced budget, so your comments about overspending are worthless and unfounded. Go back to talk ing about the federal budget.
    Cutting $1.3 billion from education in our state is a good idea? I fear for our future if that is your real belief.
    As for Jason’s silly comments on Lake Worth, I’m sure the people who enjoy Compass, the new Publix, the new beach casino building, the PBC Coultural COuncil coming to downtown and the great success of the PBSO have a much different opinion of Clemens’ two years in office.
    The reality is that the GOP is celebrating these cuts. It’s disgusting.

  6. Thanks Jeff Says:

    So thankful to have Rep. Clemens in Tallahassee fighting for the rights of people instead of corporations.
    This GOP Legislature engineered an unprecendented giveaway bonanza of corporate tax cuts, budget turkeys, and right-wing social favorites, while going after the sanctity of our courts, the health of our seniors, the health of women, the unemployed, the natural beauty of our state, and even the ability of people to register to vote and have their vote counted.
    Anyone who thinks these things are a good idea can be classified as uncaring and un-American.
    If people like Jeff Clemens won’t stand up for us, no one will.

  7. POLE Says:

    Thanks GOV Scott and J.D. alaxander and jeff atwell 10000 corrections officer families will be affected. I promise you i am a diehard republican but i am very dissapointed today at being one this is nothing more than a money grab, 3 years from now after you have rode your wave you will come crashing down, Florida has the 4 largest and heathiest retirement in the whole contry that is B.S. if you think that taking money and benifits away is going to balance the budget. Thanks mike haridopolis that you plead no contest for ethical violations and jd. alexander and jeff atwater for taking 714000 in bribes from companies like GOE and CCA to ruin lives of people that have put up with low wages and did nothing to lose their livleyhood.

  8. Fed Up Says:

    Thanks to all Democrats in this painful session; it had to be awful being powerless in the wake of some of the worst legistlative decisions in our state’s history. Your standing up for the working person means a lot to many of us. Lets hope people remember in 2012. Representatives Pafford, Bernard, Abruezzo, Clemens you rock and your hard work is appreciated.

  9. da_truth Says:

    Guy pretty much nailed it 100%. This was the most shameful legislative session ever. How do these crooks and hacks in Tallahassee sleep at night?

  10. OBIWAN Says:

    The Super Majority Republicans will agree with over 200 billed passed.

    Unfortunately, we have come to expect our GOP FL Legislature to pass those no-brainers…

    Without a doubt Mike Harodopolis IS NO MARCO RUBIO!!

    BOLD meant matching Missouri toe-to-toe on sending Illegal Aliens packing to Dumbocrap states not avoiding bankruptcy!

    BOLD meant cutting Medicaid by $7 BN and advising the FEDs we will waive participation IF they don’t issue the waiver for full MCO & eliminating all State Supplements!

    BOLD meant a 6% Sales Tax WITH NO EXEMPTIONS to fix our ludicrous residential property tax mess and have a fair and equitable consumption tax base paid by 81 million visitors paying higher at home!

    BOLD meant eliminating State Corporate Tax 1% a year until eliminated in 7 years… can you say jobs, jobs jobs!

  11. ralph Says:

    Nothing was cut from education.

    They take a weak count on 40% of classes counted last year.

    They allow up to 5 more per class the rest of the year.

    Gov Scott declares an emergency and forgives all class room fine violations.

    Florida remains in the top 10.

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