Rick Scott and Charlie Crist Fight Over Education and Budget
Around the State
Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, his leading Democratic challenger, clashed on Monday over education and the budget.
The Florida Democratic Party went on the attack against Scott on Monday, launching a new video hitting him on education spending. But Allison Tant, the chairwoman of the Florida Democrats, tried to ignore Crist’s record on the matter. Tant noted that per-pupil spending is below 2007 levels, the first year of Crist’s term as governor.
“For three years, Floridians have witnessed the devastating effects Rick Scott has had on public education. Now, in addition to running for re-election, Rick Scott is trying to run from his record of slashing education funding while lining the pockets of special interests and top campaign contributors,” said Tant on Monday. “But no amount of poll-tested talking points can change the fact that per-pupil spending still remains below 2007 levels, and that Bright Futures serves far fewer students than it did seven years ago.
“This week, Rick Scott is expected to sign a budget filled with hundreds of millions in pork-barrel spending,” Tant added. “He will have to answer to Florida’s teachers, students, and parents for every dollar he fails to veto as our schools continue to struggle. Floridians will be watching carefully as Rick Scott decides what’s most important: pet projects for special interests or giving our children the best education possible.”
But Scott’s team fired back with an of its own. Let’s Get to Work, a group with ties to Scott, released a new ad on Monday, taking aim at Crist for raising tuition during his time in office. Scott’s team is spending more than $2 million on the new ad which will hit the airwaves on Wednesday.
"Not only is Charlie Crist’s economic record a disaster, as governor he supported a bill that allowed colleges and universities to increase tuition up to 15 percent every single year,” said Leslie Dougher, the new chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), on Monday. Charlie delivered a one-two punch to Florida families already facing difficult circumstances, putting college further out of reach. Thankfully, Rick Scott repealed Charlie’s tuition increase so college is more affordable to all Florida families."
With Scott signing the state’s $77 billion budget on Monday, Crist opened up a line of attack on it over the weekend.
“Rick Scott let me down,” Crist insisted on Saturday. “Now, granted, I didn't vote for him in 2010. But when he took over in Tallahassee, I hoped that for the good of Florida, he'd be able to keep our state moving forward, just like I left it. Instead, he's destroying it.
“Scott has slashed education funding, trampled over women's rights, made it harder for people to vote, turned down high-speed rail, held federal funds for health care hostage -- in every single way, he's shown that at his core, he really is the kind of guy who would run a company that commits massive Medicare fraud without questioning whether it was the right and ethical thing to do,” Crist continued. “Floridians are hurting and Scott just doesn't care. It breaks my heart. So when it came <time> to decide whether or not to run again, I just couldn't sit on the sidelines.”
Tant pressed on against Scott after the governor signed the budget on Monday.
“Over the last three years, Rick Scott has made it clear to Floridians that lining the pockets of special interests comes before doing what’s right for the middle class,” said Tant. “Rick Scott underscored that fact today by signing a budget packed with hundreds of millions in pork-barrel spending and taxpayer giveaways. Per-pupil education funding remains below 2007 levels. Bright Futures scholarships have been slashed to the bone. Nearly 1 million Floridians still lack access to affordable health care. In a re-election campaign where Rick Scott is trying desperately to run away from his failed record, one thing has not changed: Rick Scott takes care of the wealthy special interests while ignoring the needs of middle class Floridians.”
Scott’s team noted that 43 of the 59 Democrats in the Legislature voted to support the budget and fired away on Crist.
“Charlie Crist and his supporters are so desperate to hide his tax-increasing, debt-growing, tuition-raising record that they are attacking a budget that nearly three out of every four Democrats in the Legislature voted in favor of,” Matt Moon, a spokesman for Scott, said on Monday before using trial attorney John Morgan’s slogan against the new Democrat (Morgan is Crist’s former employer and one of his chief backers): “Charlie Crist and his allies find themselves in the extreme minority of their own party. So much for being ‘for the people.’”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.