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American Enterprise Bank

It’s ‘opposite year’ in Tallahassee

Remember opposite day? What’s up is down, what’s bad is good and what you did yesterday is the exact opposite of what you’re doing today.

Well, it must be opposite year in Tallahassee.

As the governor and state legislators and lobbyists and bureaucrats gear up for the 2013 session, I keep reading about how things that were true in Tallahassee in 2012 are no longer true. In fact, they’re diametrically opposed to that previous reality.

Let me explain.

Last year the Republican-dominated state legislature added a dozen constitutional amendments to the November, 2012 ballot, making it one of the longest, and certainly the most tedious, voting documents I’ve ever read.

The amendments slowed down the process and many precincts remained open after the 7 pm closing time on Election Day to accommodate the glut of voters still waiting in line at the polls.

The ballot arrived the same year the legislature and Governor Rick Scott passed an elections reform bill, ostensibly to save taxpayers money, shaving a week off the early voting period, essentially cutting it in half.

Many, myself included, saw this as a not-so-effective way of discouraging registered voters from casting ballots. Of course, voters tend to be a stubborn bunch, and I like to think they saw through the ruse, and turned out even more determined to cast their ballots.

But now, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Scott, heretofore considered models for cost cutting, government shrinking, free market unleashing cults everywhere, appear to be charting a different course — reverse.

They want add a week to the early voting schedule and allow more places to serve as early voting locations. They want to limit the number of amendments the legislature can place on the ballot.

After several years of budget reductions in education, healthcare, corrections and other state-funded services, the governor, at least, wants to give teachers and remaining state employees — like the many prison and state hospital workers in our area — bonuses of a few thousand dollars each.

Before, the message out of Tallahassee at this time of the year was a warning: don’t ask for additional money, you’ll be lucky if we don’t cut your funding. Now, they’re talking about a $437 million surplus. If that’s not proof of an economic recovery, I don’t know what is.

Gov. Scott, who is facing an uphill reelection battle next year, has an excuse for behaving so peculiar. His approval ratings are in the toilet and Charlie Crist still has that winning smile.

For everyone else in Tallahassee, 2013 must be opposite year.

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