mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

Gov Rick Scott: When Bad Governors Try Bad Ideas

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) came up with an idea he considered pretty clever. First, he told Floridians that people on welfare were more likely to be drug addicts. What did Scott base this on? Nothing in particular — he seemed to just make it up — but Scott was quite fond of the argument.

Second, the governor approved a policy based on his faulty assumptions: those who apply for welfare benefits will have to pass a state-mandated drug test. How’s that working out? Not well.

Since the state began testing welfare applicants for drugs in July, about 2 percent have tested positive, preliminary data shows.

Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free — leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.

As part of the Scott administration policy, those applying for benefits have to pay a $30 out-of-pocket fee to pay for the drug test. If they pass, Florida reimburses them.

And while the state saves some money by not making benefits available to those 2% who fail the test, Florida is forced to reimburse everyone else, plus pay for staff and administrative costs for the drug-testing program, plus pay the legal fees associated with the likely court challenge.

This really wasn’t a great idea.

I’d also note for context that Rick Scott’s drug-testing policy is limited to low-income Floridians needing temporary aid. It doesn’t, in other words, apply to everyone seeking public funding — only the poor, who the governor assumes are probably drug-addicts.

And speaking of the nation’s worst governor, remember the $2.4 billion Florida was set to receive for high-speed rail? The project that enjoyed bipartisan support and was going to create tens of thousands of jobs? With Scott rejecting the funding, the money has now been officially reallocated for rail upgrades in the Northeast, high-speed rail in the Midwest, and related projects in California.

Florida’s unemployment rate is only 10.7%. It’s not like the state needed the boost.

 

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 26, 2011

August 27, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Economy, Elections, Equal Rights, GOP, Gov Rick Scott, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Teaparty, Unemployment, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Could Line Florida Gov Rick Scott’s Pockets

When Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed the law requiring welfare recipients to pass annual drug tests to collect benefits, he justified the likely unconstitutional law by saying it would save the state money by keeping drug users from using public money to subsidize their drug habits. Drug use, Scott claimed, was higher among welfare recipients than among the rest of the population.

Preliminary results from the state’s first round of testing, however, has seemingly proven both of those claims false. Only 2 percent of welfare recipients failed drug tests, meaning the state must reimburse the cost of the $30 drug tests to the 96 percent of recipients who passed drug tests (two percent did not take the tests). After reimbursements, the state’s savings will be almost negligible, the Tampa Tribune reports:

Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month’s worth of rejected applicants.

Net savings to the state: $3,400 to $5,000 annually on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800 to $60,000 for a program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year.

While the state will save little, if any, money on the drug testing racket, Scott’s family could stand to gain financially. A former health care executive, Scott founded Solantic Corp., a chain of walk-in health care clinics that provides, among other services, drug tests. Scott maintains that he has no involvement in the company, but he does have $62 million worth of the company’s shares contained in a blind trust under his wife’s name. Though there is no conflict under Florida law unless the company deals with the governor’s office directly, the company, and thus Scott’s investment, could benefit from the increased traffic from drug tests.

Meanwhile, the state’s already-small annual savings could be wiped out entirely by the cost of implementing the program and issuing the reimbursements. And as Derek Newton, the spokesman for the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Tribune, the cost of the program could skyrocket if the state has to defend it in court. The ACLU is still considering a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality, Newton said.

If the ACLU or anyone else were to challenge the law, the lawsuit would likely succeed. As UCLA law professor Adam Winkler wrote after Scott signed the law, “Random drug-testing is what is known as a ‘suspicion-less search,’” and outside of a few limited instances, courts have “generally frowned upon” drug testing that occurs at random and without probable cause. “Indeed, courts have stuck down policies just like the ones put in place by Florida,” Winkler wrote, citing two cases to back up the claim.

As for Scott’s second claim, that drug use is higher among welfare recipients, the test results also show that to be false. While only 2 percent of welfare recipients failed drug tests, a 2008 study by the Office of National Drug Control Policy found that approximately 8 percent of Floridians age 12 and up had used illegal drugs in the last month, and 9.69 percent had smoked marijuana in the last year.

By: Travis Waldron, Think Progress, August 24, 2011

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Constitution, GOP, Gov Rick Scott, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Medicare Fraud, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Teaparty, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Walker Finds Making Bumper Stickers Is Easier Than Creating Jobs

Where are the jobs, Gov. Walker?

Scott Walker, the chief executive of Wisconsin, is riding a wave of triumph. The state Supreme Court just upheld his famous crusade to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers. The state legislature just voted, along party lines, to approve his 2012 budget reordering the state’s finances to his conservative tastes.

On Monday morning, Walker stopped by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to participate in a roundtable discussion about “what works and what doesn’t” in job creation.

Walker regaled the assembled business leaders and governors with tales of his job-creating acumen. He boasted about passing tort reform, tax cuts, a “major regulatory reform” and his celebrated fight against the public-sector unions. “That’s powerful for job creators out there,” he said.

How powerful? “Since the beginning of the year in Wisconsin we’ve seen 25,000 new jobs,” Walker reported.

Sorry, governor, but that’s not very powerful.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin’s nonfarm payroll in May was 2,764,300 on a seasonally-adjusted basis, up 20,300 from January’s 2,744,000.

That’s an increase of seven-tenths of one percent in the workforce — not much better than the anemic nationwide growth in nonfarm payrolls to 131,043,000 in May from 130,328,000 in January.

This doesn’t mean Walker’s policies have failed; by his own account, the benefits could take years to materialize. But it does suggest that the conservatives criticizing the Obama administration’s handling of the economy don’t have a silver bullet of their own. Walker, who has large Republican majorities in the Wisconsin legislature, experimented with a long conservative wish-list, but the state hasn’t been a standout in job creation during his six-month tenure.

The truth is that there’s not much more that government can do to boost jobs in the short term. That’s up to the private sector now. Corporate America has recovered so well that profits have been at or near record levels of an annualized $1.7 trillion in the last two quarters – but businesses have yet to spend their piles of cash.

Instead, flush CEOs are demanding still more government spending. This was a theme of Monday’s session at the Chamber, where 23 men and one woman sat around a u-shaped table and listened to Chamber president Tom Donohue describe states as “laboratories of democracy,” where businesses are more likely to find “common sense solutions, innovations, experimentations, bipartisanship.”

Walker, whose tenure has made Wisconsin more of a laboratory of theocracy, clenched his jaw at the mention of bipartisanship. “The very first day I was elected,” he said when his turn came, “I put up a sign that said, ‘Wisconsin is open for business.’” He waved a bumper sticker for the Chamber crowd with that same message. “I called the legislature into a special session based solely on jobs.”

That led to the fight over collective bargaining, the fleeing of Democratic legislators across state lines, and huge protests in Madison. “We got a little more attention than most,” he said.

The attention continued on Monday. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, one of two Democrats on the panel, said he “took a different approach” than Walker did: “I invited the unions to the table.” Markell said that the cuts he got from the unions exceeded his target by 30 percent, without creating statewide bitterness.

The other Democrat, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, implicitly rebuked Walker when he said “with a Republican House and Democratic Senate we passed our budget with at least 75 percent in both houses.”

In terms of job-creation, neither Democrat’s approach has worked any better than Walker’s. Colorado added 9,000 non-farm jobs this year and Delaware has been flat. Iowa, represented on the panel by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, added 12,000. Virginia, represented by Gov. Bob McDonnell, added 22,000.

The biggest job creator of the six, Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), boasted that his tax cuts, deregulation and tort reform enabled him to cut “unemployment every month since I came into office, and last month our job creation was more than the entire rest of the country.” That’s nice, but even Scott’s job growth amounts to just 1 percent of the state’s workforce, and Florida’s unemployment is among the highest in the country.

Eventually, the governors – like President Obama – will have more to show for their job-creation policies. But for now, they’ll have to settle for baby steps. Walker told the Chamber that Wisconsin moved up 17 places in Chief Executive magazine’s annual ranking. “Last year we were 41,” he said. “This year, we went up to No. 24.”

If only those happy CEOs would start hiring.

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 20, 2011

June 24, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Gov Rick Scott, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Governors, Ideologues, Jobs, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Public Employees, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Unemployed, Union Busting, Unions, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gov. Rick Scott May Personally Benefit From New Law That Hands Medicaid Program Over To Private Companies

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed “a landmark Medicaid overhaul” yesterday that will put “hundreds of thousands of low-income and elderly Floridians into managed-care plans.” The proposal “gives managed care companies more control over the program that’s paid for with federal and state money,” a shift the state GOP claims will “hold down spiraling costs in the $20 billion program.” However, as TP Health editor Igor Volsky pointed out, a five-county pilot program in Florida already revealed that such a plan produces “widespread complaints and little evidence of savings.” Under managed care, states “have to ensure that private payers aren’t looking out for short term profits by denying treatments or reducing reimbursement rates” and — given what occurred during the pilot program — the results “are already less than promising.”

But Scott may have another reason to push a dubious bill into law. As Mother Jones reported, one of the private managed-care companies that stand to gain from the new law is Solantic, “a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers. Solantic was founded in 2001 — by none other than Rick Scott:

The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, according to the Palm Beach Post, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.[…]

“This is a conflict of interest that raises a serious ethical issue,” says Marc Rodwin, a medical ethics professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. “The public should be thinking and worrying about this.”

Scott’s office dismissed the conflict of interest concern as “incorrect and baseless.” However, Scott’s history of fraud with entitlement programs (in that case Medicare) should certainly raise a red flag here. And it is not as if Scott is completely clean when it comes to the mix between professional office and personal interest.

Incidentally, Scott also just signed a bill that will require anyone applying for welfare benefits to pay for a drug test to qualify for benefits. They will only recoup that fee if they pass. One company that provides such drug tests? Solantic.

 

By: Tanya Somander, Think Progress, June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Consumers, Corporations, Elections, GOP, Gov Rick Scott, Governors, Health Care, Health Care Costs, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Fraud, Politics, Public, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, Seniors, Solantic, State Legislatures, States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Happens When A Criminal Becomes Governor?

Florida’s wildly-unpopular far-right governor, Rick Scott (R), traveled to a retirement community in Central Florida yesterday known for being the most Republican retirement community in the state. Scott was there to sign his new state budget, which helps demonstrate his priorities and commitment to looking out for his most vulnerable constituents.

In his speech Thursday, Scott omitted many of the serious-sounding programs he cut: homeless veterans, meals for poor seniors, a council for deafness, a children’s hospital, cancer research, public radio, whooping-cough vaccines for poor mothers, or aid for the paralyzed.

These are cuts, by the way, he made from an already-austere budget approved by a Florida legislature dominated by larger Republican majorities. Scott thought they were too generous, so he made sweeping changes though line-item vetoes, which is legal in the state.

All told, Scott’s budget throws 4,500 Floridians out of work as a way to help lower unemployment. No, I don’t understand it, either.

The ridiculous governor might have heard from some of his less-supportive constituents had he not banned Democrats from the bill-signing ceremony.

Members of The Villages Democratic Club were barred from the budget signing by Scott staffers who said the outdoor event in The Villages town square was “private.” Other staffers and Republican operatives scoured the crowd and had Sumter County sheriff’s deputies remove those with anti-Scott signs or liberal-looking pins and buttons. They escorted more than a dozen people off the property.

As Tanya Somanader put it, “Many in the community would likely not be pleased with Scott’s cuts, but those voices remained unheard — mainly because they were banned.”

Atrios added the other day, “I normally resist the temptation to blame “stupid voters” for their leaders, but man, Floridians, what were you thinking….”

 

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly-Political Animal, May 27, 2011

May 28, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Gov Rick Scott, Government, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Seniors, State Legislatures, States, Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: