The Republicans that run Florida’s Legislative branch claim to be good conservatives who will protect the taxpayers from the liberal monsters in Washington and especially in the White House. But Florida’s Republicans are far from conservative when it comes to spending other people’s money. These phony conservatives are more concerned about using the levers of power to protect and promote campaign contributors and other special interests than actually living up to their so famous ” smaller government,more freedom mantra.” Under their watch, Florida has gone from a national model to a national joke.
Arrogance among the legislative majority has grown as the inept Florida Democratic Party has failed to seriously contest election after election despite favorable demographic shifts up and down the peninsula. While Florida taxpayers are constantly fleeced by a majority that has rewritten history, the FDP focuses on non-issues and denies voters choices in critical elections.
Most of Florida’s current problems began after the GOP took the majority in the State Legislature in 1996. Legislative leaders constantly claim the need to cut budgets, by trimming fat and eliminating essential programs. But what many observers forget is that many if not all of Florida’s budgetary problems began under Republican rule. Irresponsibly repealing important sources of revenue while pillaging the state and undermining the ability to withstand external economic phenomena have been trademarks of the GOP legislature.
During the 1970s and 1980s when Democrats ran the state, Florida moved ahead, leaving the rest of the Southeast US far behind. We were a model for responsible economic policies, sensible growth management, environmental protection, and a decent level of taxation. Our state was the envy of the nation, a dream state in many different ways. But in the late 1980s, a right wing Republican governor, aligned with many “liberal” southeast Florida Democrats worked to repeal the tax on services.
That began a slippery slope that intensified after the Republican takeover of the entire legislature. Republicans repealed taxes and then claimed the state was broke. This led to the cut of critical programs that were beneficial for Florida’s citizens, weakened Florida’s safety net, undermined our public schools and devastated our Universities.
Republicans had an ideological game plan. Create an economic crises that forced the state to cut services and privatize programs. Crony Capitalism at its very finest on display here in Florida, thanks to us being a one party state.
At the same time, Republicans have wasted millions of dollars on pet projects, and ill conceived ideas. Perhaps part of the problem is that Democrats who lead the state party come in two forms- Tallahassee insiders or out of touch southeast Floridians who simply don’t educate themselves about the needs of southwest, central and northeast Florida. Their are many notable exceptions to this rule, but perhaps if the majority Democratic leaders spent a little more time in the areas of the state that really matter, then they’d understand how to message better and defeat the extreme Republicans.
Florida Democrats need to visit Lakeland, New Port Richey, Bradenton, Port Charlotte, Jacksonville, and other places they don’t often go which have significant populations. Maybe then, they will learn how to properly message for all Floridians and hold the Republicans more accountable for their mistakes.