'Heck No!': Matt Hudson, Will Weatherford Rebuke Federal Interference at Tea Party Rally
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Tea partiers' hopes that their legislative priorities would receive a fair hearing in the 2013 session seemed to be vindicated Tuesday, as high-ranking lawmakers kicked off a rally hosted by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), galvanizing free-market activists in town to lobby their representatives.
“I see some signs that say 'No Medicaid Expansion,'” observed Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, who serves as chair of the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and vice chair of the Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA -- i.e., “Obamacare”), before a crowd of some 250 citizen lobbyists. “Let me tell you, it's not just 'no,' it's 'Heck, no!'”
Hudson's remarks followed those of House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who signaled the support of House leadership for the agenda promoted by AFP, whose activism he credited with helping to make Florida a freer and more prosperous state than others.
“As a country, I believe we are less free than we were four years ago, and unfortunately, with the occupier at the White House, that trend will probably continue for the next few years,” he said. “But that presents [us] with an amazing opportunity to create a pocket of freedom right here in Florida.”
That pocket, he said, was being created by Republicans' promotion of education reform, government accountability, school choice and the expansion of virtual education opportunities, lowering of taxes and regulations, and the House's attempt to reform the state's “old, archaic, and outdated” pension system for state workers.
“There's a troubling trend that's going on in this country, and I'm calling it 'cartel federalism,'” he explained. “[It's] the idea that the federal government can buy-off states with so-called 'free' money, [in order to] make us more entitled; it's a bad thing for the state of Florida, and I'm here to tell you, the state of Florida will not do it, America should not do it, and we should turn [down] any Medicaid expansion that anyone's talking about,” he concluded, his voice drowned out by cheers from the crowd.
Hudson echoed the sentiments.
“Imagine anything that your tax dollars get spent on by the federal government and ask yourself – whether it's national parks or the military – in today's fiscal climate, would they possibly be able to adhere to a 10-year funding plan?” he asked, referring to federal promises of Medicare funding that many conservative activists are skeptical of. “If they cant take care of our military, then you gotta kinda ask yourself how in the world they can possibly take care of anything else.”
Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, who chairs the House's Choice and Innovation Subcommittee, followed Hudson by taking shots at taxpayer-funded incentive programs for private businesses.
“What's going on with these select tax breaks, with the $400 million tax rebate and tax increases that inure unproportional benefits for a man that's worth $4.4 billion, is worth standing up [against],” he said, in an apparent reference to the Miami Dolphins' proposed renovation plan for the Sun Life Stadium.
“Too many [businessmen today] decide that the way to create wealth for themselves is not through just taking risks and creating a better product and creating value for their customers,” he said. “Why do all that if you can work a system and increase your wealth by coming here to Tallahassee and getting a special tax break?”
House Majority Leader Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, was the last legislator to address the crowd, endorsing AFP's “5 for Florida Plan” and encouraging the activists to share it with their representatives.
Abigail MacIver, director of policy and external affairs at AFP-Florida, tells Sunshine State News the speaker's pension reform plan, essentially converting the current entitlement to a 401(k), was taken “right off of our Five for Florida Plan,” and that she's confident her organization will see several of its legislative priorities realized.
Americans for Prosperity published those priorities 10 days ago, taking stances on at least 17 pieces of legislation before the House and Senate. They include:
Oppose Medicaid expansion and creation of a state insurance exchange
Reform unsustainable pensions
• SB 534 / HB 599 – Local Government Pension Accounting -- Support
• HB 7011 – 401(k) Plans for New State Employees -- Support
Increase government accountability and transparency
• HB 23 / SB 50 – Speaking at Public Meetings -- Support
• SB 406 / HB 641 – Improved Reporting of Taxpayer-Funded Incentives -- Support
• HB 563 / SB 572 – Public Reporting of Incentives -- Support
• SB 1150 – State Contracting Accountability -- Support
End corporate welfare
• Oppose funding for Enterprise Florida and taxpayer-funded incentive programs
• Oppose SB 306 / HB 165 and any bills providing taxpayer-funded incentives to professional sports teams
Encourage school choice and innovation
• SB 862 / HB 867 - Parent Empowerment for Failing Schools -- Support
• HB 465 / SB 1108 – Parental Rights for Disabled Students -- Support
• HB 7009 – Charter School Accountability -- Support
• HB 7029 – Access to Digital Learning -- Support
• HB 401 / SB 562 – Increase Corporate Income Tax Exemption – Support
• SB 88 / SB 316 / HB 497 -- Taxes Internet Sales -- Oppose
Decrease government regulation and red-tape
• HB 121 / SB 670 – Local Regulatory Transparency -- Support
• HB 203 / SB 1190 – Reducing over-regulation of agricultural lands -- Support
• SB 320 / HB 4001 – Ethanol Repeal -- Support
• SB 720 / HB 7023 – Decreased occupational licensing burdens -- Support.
Reach Eric Giunta at email@example.com or at (954) 235-9116.