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No Room For Children In Gov. Rick Scott's Vision for Florida

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One of the less endearing traits of conservatives is their tendency to not let practicality or the human condition get in the way of ideology. Let’s forget for a moment the GOP/Conservative clarion call to cut taxes and shrink government no matter the economic condition or circumstance. One of the more striking elements of this one size fits all ideological blueprint for economic redress is the lack of a standard for a perfect equilibrium regarding the optimum size of government and just how much taxes is enough for the basic services one might expect from local, state or federal government. This brings us to two elements of this ideology that are counter intuitive regarding the human condition and they both have to do with children.

Governor Scott’s proposed inaugural budget seems to base its virtue on the draconian nature of its harshness and severity especially in regards to government services concerning our states children. The one service and state agency that seems to bear the brunt of this push for austerity at any cost is the Department of Children and Families. This includes the elimination of homeless services, agencies that deal with school suicide prevention and finally domestic violence which always seems to have children as collateral damage. The Governors rhetoric seems only to find compassion for children if a family’s tax bracket rates a tax cut. Overall his budget and tax cut numbers tell us it comes down to $540.00 savings per household over two years. Take it to per month and it equals less than $23.00. Only a politician so disconnected from the people he serves would think that ranks as some kind of tax savings windfall for the taxpayer. These so called savings broken down per month won’t even cover the cost of a tank of gas.

The counter intuitive element of this budget/tax policy brings the centrality of its focus on the social issue at the very core of the conservative movement: its anti-abortion or right to life stance. If one is to cut all meaningful services that would act as a safety net or as an agent of aid for children that would be forced into this world through a rigid social policy that not only discourages abortion no matter the circumstance but education as well about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Low income and needy children would be left at the mercy of the vagaries of the market place where under these policies there is no room for compassion or help for the economic and socially disadvantaged.

This brings us to education. The planned per pupil cuts in costs would total around 10 per cent in a state that already ranks as one of the lowest in the nation in per pupil spending (Florida ranks 45th out of 50). This counter-intuitive policy would shackle the state’s public education system with burdens that could only work to undermine the classroom environment to the point where it becomes untenable with the rising school age population contrasted against an ever shrinking budget to support it. How children of low economic circumstance are expected to make wise choices in life when the public education system they rely on fails them economically is beyond me.

These policies certainly tell us all we need to know about Governor Rick Scott the person as he uses the plight of these at risk children as a means to an ideological end.