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Progressives protest Rick Scott in St. Pete

by Dara Kam | July 1st, 2011

Chanting “Pink Slip Rick,” dozens of left-leaning activists staged a protest as Gov. Rick Scott addressed a gathering of the media in St. Petersburg.

Florida Watch Action, Progress Florida and Awake the State organized the protest to coincide with Scott’s speech and more than a hundred new laws went into effect today.

As of today, teachers, firemen, police officers and other state workers will have to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions. And more than 4,500 state workers will lose their jobs under the new $69.1 billion budget that also goes into effect today. Lawmakers also slashed education spending, all part of an effort to fill a $3.62 billion budget gap.

Wearing a “Governor Scott Enemy of the State” T-shirt, Madeira Beach teacher Mary Niemeyer held a sign decrying the state’s education cuts. “Our future is at stake,” she said.

Middle school teacher Steve Adams and his wife Mary drove from Lakeland to participate in the protest across the street from the waterfront Renaissance Vinoy Hotel where the Florida Press Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors held their annual meeting.

“I object to the way teachers and public employees have been the ones forced to pay for Florida’s deficit,” Adams, 67, said.

While the protest may have little – if any – impact on Scott, Adams, who said he did not vote for the first-term governor, said it and similar events have worked.

“The tea party made a difference and this is how they started. So we should take a lesson,” Adams said.

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