06 May 2005

Students saved; Jeb humiliated

During his 2002 reelection campaign, Governor Jeb Bush claimed that if the class size amendment was passed by the voters, he had "devious plans" of how he would deal with it. The class size amendment was meant to limit the size of Florida's overcrowded classrooms. This year, Bush revealed those plans, and yesterday Democrats in the Florida Legislature dealt the governor his most humiliating defeat since taking office.

Just prior to the legislative session, Governor Bush announced his education plan that would have raised teachers salaries, which is long overdue, but only if the increase were coupled with a repeal of the class size provision in the Florida Constitution. The plan was brilliant yet despicable, pitting the teachers against the students they devote their lives to teaching.

The "bait and switch" constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 1843, was filed by Representative John Stargel (R-Lakeland) and passed the Florida House with a vote of 76-34. While the vote appears lopsided, this is simply because the Democrats are greatly outnumbered. House Democrats however were extremely aggressive in fighting against the governor's "Devious Plans" bill and are probably ultimately responsible for its demise.

Because of the House Democrat' efforts, a number of GOP Senators joined a unified Senate Democratic Caucus yesterday morning in shooting the legislation down in flames. Since it would have been a constitutional amendment, the resolution needed 24 out of 40 votes to pass, but the governor didn't even get a majority vote. The governor's "devious plans" legislation was defeated with by vote of 19-21.

While this vote was a big victory for Democrats in Tallahassee, it was a bigger victory for Florida's school children.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for the Dems. This is great. This really made my morning.

9:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on Jeb for trying to pull a fast one on the voters. Leadership means sometimes making tough decisions. Undoing the class-size restrictions would be the easy way out. The Miami Herald quoted Jeb as saying that future legislators would probably regret this decision. I think they'll be proud of what they did. The vote wasn't the easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do.

12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing how certain Republican State Senators continue to save this state from extreme measures. With more and more House members advancing to the Senate I fear that this trend which has been in place ever since the GOP captured the Legislature in the mid 1990s will pass on, and Senate will end up being a mini version of the House. I hope I'm worng, but fear this may be the last go round for the gatekeeper of the state which has been the Florida Senate for the past 6 years.

6:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the best comment I have read on a blog in a long time.

Democrats in Florida are only staying relevant because a few swing moderate Republicans in the Senate join them on important votes. Once those Republican are gone, a negative effect of term limits, Democrats will be powerless in the Legislature. There is no filibuster in the Florida Senate, so the GOP will be able to push anything through the Legislature.

Dems may think that defending Sen. Nelson is their biggest priority, but their number one focus should be creating a fair process for drawing districts. (No offense to the Senator - his race IS very important!)

Betty Castor has been working on this, but she appears to have lost momentum. I hope she regains her focus and gets back to it.

2:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Senate Republicans I agree with the above posts are the opposition party in this state now. My party, the Democrats are totally irrelevent.

4:11:00 PM  
Blogger Kartik said...

The Senate continues to make Jeb Bush's life miserable, and thank goodness for them since the Republicans in the Senate seem to be the only thing keeping us from runaway Government in this state. While the media in its post session analysis has been quick to discuss an emerging maverick senate, the reality is that the Senate since Bush's first year in office has been dubious about much of the Governor's ideas and programs. In 1999, Bush's first year as Governor, the Senate attempted to water down both of Bush's top priorities that session: Tort (Product Liability) reform and school vouchers. In fact, future Senate President Jim King took the lead in attempting to water down Bush's Voucher proposal and only reluctantly voted for the final version when it was obvious Bush had the votes. In 2001 and 2002, John McKay as President put the kabosh on Jeb's excessive tax cutting efforts, and attempted his own heroic effort to bring some balance to Florida's regressive tax structure. In 2003, King tried to water down Medical Malpractice reform, with some success. This session the Senate defied Bush on Terry Schiavo, class size, tort reform, and many other things. I long for the day that my party is once again relevent in the Legislative process, but until then I am thankful that the Florida Senate continues to be led by centrist, forward thinking Republicans who have the entire state's interests at heart, not just that of the GOP and its political agenda.

2:14:00 PM  
Blogger thelastdem said...

The Democrats do deserve a good bit of credit for this one.

While they are a small minority, their members were very vocal and helped make this an uncomfortable vote for all of the Republicans. If you don't believe me, all you have to do is watch any of the committee debates where Democratic members were pointing out exactly how much money each Republican school district would lose if the repeal got on the ballot and passed.

Until we get redistricting passed, the role of Democratic legislators is to turn up the heat and help drive public opinion. When it came to class size, House and Senate Democrats did their job.

6:31:00 PM  

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