A few issues seemed to have slipped the mind of Florida’s governor, as if a gust of wind had blown across the podium and carried away crucial pages of Rick Scott’s second inaugural speech.
The poor fellow was left on Tuesday with not much more than a reprise of his 2014 boilerplate campaign speech about jobs, small government and “our legacy of cutting taxes more than 40 times.”
The governor’s address, however, was missing the stuff about actual governing (which was occasionally tough-going during his first term).
Scott didn’t mention how he planned to repair a corrupt, brutal and occasionally murderous state prison system, though surely one of his speech writers must have noticed that 32 guards have been fired — so far — in this latest Department of Corrections scandal. Or that on Monday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement requested an extra $8.4 million to cover the burgeoning costs of investigating inmate deaths.
Perhaps one of the state senators attending the inauguration Tuesday should have passed a note up to the podium, reminding the governor that just the day before, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee had heard testimony about the maltreatment of state prisoners, including Darren Rainey at Dade Correctional Institution, who died in a shower locker that had been rigged for torture. “The spectacle of a prisoner cooked like a chicken shocked all of our consciences,’’ Allison DeFoor of The Project on Accountable Justice told the committee. “This is America. We don’t do that.’’
Floridians would have liked to have heard similar sentiments coming from the governor’s mouth.
Scott’s speech also was missing the section about children’s healthcare, though his administration had been charged with shameful negligence the previous week by two different judges. On New Year’s Eve, U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan ruled that Florida’s chintzy Medicaid reimbursement rates were so low that thousands of needy and disabled children have been denied care. That came two days after an angry Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman accused the Florida Department of Children and Families of denying critical mental healthcare to foster children.
None of DCF’s infamous failures was addressed by the governor. Perhaps he didn’t want his audience to consider just what we’re getting with government on the cheap.
Scott didn’t explain, despite the purported 700,000 new jobs he brought to Florida, why his state was ranked 50th in available, affordable housing, 49th in health insurance coverage, 37th in fixing child poverty and 49th for unemployment insurance coverage in a study released last month by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Scott did promise “environmental improvements to ensure we keep Florida beautiful.” He didn't say how he might persuade powerful agricultural interests to stop sliming the state’s estuaries with manure and fertilizer runoff that nurture massive algae blooms.
Other discomfiting issues like rising sea levels, gun violence, mass transportation woes, high stakes testing, our relationship with Cuba, absentee ballot fraud, oil exploration or casino gambling didn’t get a mention in his inaugural.
Must have been a very windy day in Tallahassee.