Weatherford opens House saying tax cuts are a ‘real stimulus plan’by John Kennedy | March 4th, 2014
House Speaker Will Weatherford convened the House on Tuesday, the opening day of the 2014 session, urging lawmakers to put election-year campaigning on hold for the next couple months while tackling an “ambitious and far-reaching” work plan.
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, ridiculed Washington for passing “far more blame than bills.” But he said Florida lawmakers could be different — starting with a $500 million tax and fee cut that’s become the signature goal of Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
“It’s our version of a real stimulus plan – one that is good for Florida’s families and Florida’s economy,” Weatherford said.
Weatherford also highlighted major portions of the work plan he and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, put together, saying efforts to strengthen ethics laws, expanding jobs and dramatically boosting charter and voucher schools will be priorities. Although the charter and voucher proposals are fiercely opposed by Democrats and most school districts, Weatherford suggested that support for the push should be simple.
“No child’s future success should be dictated by their zip code,” Weatherford said. “In my opinion, no other issue today personifies freedom, opportunity and the God-given “right to rise” for our children better than the school choice movement.”
He said, “Let us agree not to fight each other and instead fight for them.”
Weatherford also promoted allowing children of undocumented aliens living in Florida to qualify for in-state tuition. For years, most Republicans have fought such tuition breaks and the issue remains bitterly opposed within many in the party’s tea party wing.
He accused Washington of ducking the immigration issue, leaving states to deal with such issues.
“There are children, through no fault of their own, who live in our state, are educated in our public schools, and yet after investing tens of thousands of dollars to educate them, we shut the door on their future,” Weatherford said. “We no longer treat them as Floridians.
“It makes no sense fiscally. It makes no sense economically,” he added. “And it makes no sense morally – because we should never punish a child for the mistakes of their parents.”