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Florida’s Scott Uncomfortable with the Whole Democracy Thing

I don’t want to tilt my coverage too much in favor of one or the other Tea Party Republican Governors. We’ve been Scott Walker-heavy here lately, with a dash of John Kasich; perhaps we need to bring Rick Scott into the conversation. We can start with Scott’s budget, unveiled at a Tea Party meeting, believe it or not. It has that perfect combination of education spending cuts combined with massive corporate tax cuts:

“We’re going to deal with the deficit,” Scott said Wednesday. “But the way to get the state back to work is reducing property taxes and phasing out the business tax.”

Tax cuts are an integral piece of Scott’s 7-7-7 plan, his campaign promise to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Those jobs are in addition to the 1 million new jobs that state economists already expect to come to Florida during the same time.

Scott’s plan calls for phasing out corporate income taxes. The 5.5 percent tax rate would be reduced to 3 percent in the first year at a cost to the state of about $835 million.

Scott also wants to cut property taxes by $1.4 billion this year and another $1.4 billion over the next six years.

That budget, presented in February, hasn’t come close to a vote yet. The total cuts to the education budget: $1.75 billion. That’s adds up to as much as a $2,335 annual pay cut for the average teacher, in addition to layoffs and reductions in programs. And while Scott has claimed that the tax cuts would make up for this, the average homeowner would get a whopping $44.72 in property tax savings. Almost all of the tax cuts would go to corporations, including to their property tax rates.

It’s not just the extreme policy proposals, but the general governing style that has led Florida Republicans to distance themselves from Scott, whose company paid the largest Medicare fraud fine in history (just thought I’d throw that in there):

“The governor doesn’t understand there is a State Constitution and that we have three branches of government,” said State Senator Mike Fasano, a Republican from New Port Richey who upset Mr. Scott with rough handling of his staff during a testy committee hearing. “They are talking about the attitude that he is still the C.E.O. of his former health care corporation, and that is not going to work in this state, in Tallahassee, in my district. The people believe in three branches of government.”

Republican lawmakers in Florida were hoping for a smoother transition. Instead, they say, they got top-down management from a political novice […]

In his first two months in office, the governor has irritated the State Senate’s powerful Budget Committee chairman by selling two state jets without legislative permission, a constitutional no-no. The governor wanted the sale done quickly (he uses his own plane), and he succeeded.

He annoyed the ambitious Senate president, as well as a host of leaders in conservative states, by trying to kill off a database to track the fraudulent distribution of addictive prescription drugs before it was up and running. He did so without consulting lawmakers, calling the monitoring system an invasion of privacy.

Most recently, Mr. Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money to build a high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando, which he saw as too big a financial drain on state taxpayers in the long term.

To Scott, “running government like a business” means running it the way he clearly did his business, by cutting corners and not listening to anyone and ruling with an iron fist. Florida has a pretty healthy Republican majority at the legislative level and even they’re fed up with this guy.

Rachel Maddow covered Scott last night.

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David Dayen

David Dayen