Peg Dunmire, the chairman of the Florida Tea Party, will respond to Gov. Scott’s political address after it concludes, and across the state, political conservatives will be interested to see if the governor remains true to his pledge to reduce Florida government, said Doug Guetzloe, founder of the radio station at Hovey Court in downtown Orlando, and an advisor to the Florida Tea Party.
“We’re hopeful that he will maintain the direction that he’s going in at this point, which is to cut government,” Guetzloe said.
Scott, a South Florida venture capitalist and business owner, launched his first bid for public office in 2010 when he tossed his hat into the ring for governor. He used his personal wealth to defeat two veteran officeholders, state Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the general election. By the end of the campaign, Scott estimated that he had spent more than $78 million to win the office.
Scott ran on a pledge to reduce the size of government and also deliver tax cuts in the form of property tax relief and corporate tax cuts to help spur economic development.
“We’re very hopeful that the governor will continue to cut unnecessary government waste,” Guetzloe said.
Last month, the governor generated both praise and outrage when he rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds to build a high speed train from Orlando to Tampa. The money had been given to Florida in 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s stimulus package. The Obama administration has promoted high speed trains as a way to help jump start the economy.
Scott disagreed, and following the example of the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio, said he would reject the money and the high speed rail project because he didn’t believe it would meet ridership expectations, and felt it would saddle Florida taxpayers with expensive long term maintenance costs.
Two state lawmakers challenged the governor’s ability to veto the project without legislative approval, but on Friday the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Scott’s rejection of the funds didn’t violate Florida’s Constitution.
The fight continues. On Tuesday, the anti-Scott group Awake The State will hold a rally at 5:30 p.m. at Senator Beth Johnson Park, 59 S. Ivanhoe Boulevard, for critics of the governor’s budget cuts. The group’s Facebook page notes, “Floridians can’t afford more budget cuts. Our state can’t afford to balance another budget on the backs of our working families and our middle class.”
Then on Wednesday, the League of Women Voters of Orange County is hosting a luncheon titled, “Brace for the Impact: Local Response to State Budget Cuts,” at 11:30 a.m. at the Sorosis Club of Orlando, 501 E. Livingston St. The cost of the luncheon is $35.
Ax The Tax, the anti-tax group founded by Guetzloe, will in turn head to Tallahassee on Wednesday, March 16 to hold a rally in support of the governor. In addition to killing the high speed train, Guetzloe said Ax the Tax and the Florida Tea Party will urge the governor to kill SunRail, a 61-mile commuter train that will run from Volusia County to downtown Orlando, and then to Poinciana.
“We’re also hopeful that he will address SunRail,” Guetzloe said. “There’s no other option than to cut that boondoggle.”
In addition to broadcasting the governor’s speech live, the Pheonix Network’s web site, www.PhoenixNetwork.US, will have a link to a live video of the governor’s address.
Dunmire noted that the Florida Tea Party endorsed Scott last year, and said she has high expectations for his speech.
“I expect that he is going to lay out his program, that he is proposing to get Floridians back to work,” she said. “Among the unique proposals he has is a change in how parents will be able to determine where their children go to school, and I think that is a wonderful proposal.
“I think that he will be consistent with his stand on being there for the taxpayer, as he was when he turned away the high speed rail money,” she added. “So I look forward to his State of the State adresss. He is about trying to turn our ship in a different direction and having us live within our means, and I’m all in favor of that.”
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