Jeff Kushner, Chairman, Lee County Democrats
Q: How do you rate the governor for leadership?
A: I am disappointed overall with the governor’s leadership. He appears more interested in cutting costs, with only minimal consideration for education and health care for the poor. Now that his popularity is low and his re-election is looming next year, he’s reluctantly changing his long-term fundamental positions. He is trying to re-invent himself.
Q: What are his two greatest successes?
A: The governor has made an effort to eliminate unnecessary regulations which discourage business in Florida. He also participated in a trade conference in South America which promises to produce significant trade with the state.
Q: What are his two greatest failures or disappointments?
A: The governor literally gave away $2 billion by not accepting money from the federal government to develop high-speed railroads in Florida. This would have improved Florida’s infrastructure and, of course, created jobs. Instead, the money was redistributed to other states.
Also, the governor signed an elections reform act reducing early voting. The whole country knows his effort was to simply suppress and discourage voting by minorities. It backfired on him, and he should be ashamed of himself.
Q: What should be his priorities for the next two years?
A: Scott reversed his opposition on Obamacare, and now says he will implement it and not prevent the expansion of Medicaid in Florida. When we consider he is up for re-election in 2014, it is suspect that his heart is really in the implementation of Medicaid expansion, and for sure his feet should be held to the fire.
The governor has also changed his tune and agrees fuller early voting should be reinstated, and that voting locations should be expanded. Again, it is imperative to keep up the pressure until the new regulations are in fact finalized.
Q: Is there any other comment on his first two years that you care to make?
A: For an individual who has been successful in the health-care business, one would think he would be more sensitive to helping the poor have greater access to health care. He spent much of his term complaining about Obamacare, as well as leading the unnecessary fight to require drug testing for those applying for welfare, as if this were some type of monumental issue facing the citizens of Florida. Hopefully, the forces of his upcoming election will compel him to make decisions based on what the people of Florida want, and not based solely on what the extreme conservative wing of his party insists on.