FL Workers Gearing Up for 2012 Elections
ORLANDO, Fla. - Working people from across Florida gathered over the weekend in Orlando, marking the kickoff of a sustained campaign to demand meaningful action from the Republican-controlled state legislature. The Festival for Florida's Future brought together state workers, teachers, retirees and even students working their way through college.
One career civil servant, state employee Paul Brewer, says Florida's lawmakers are catering to the whims of the wealthy.
"You know, the ultra rich, they don't need any schools - they've got their private schools. They don't need a police force - they got their gated communities. They don't even need roads - half of them fly around in their own corporate jets. They don't need anybody."
Brewer points out the new budget ceremoniously signed by Gov. Rick Scott at an up-scale, gated community, cut public-sector jobs, salaries and benefits. Scott supporters claim the cutbacks are needed to reduce Florida's bulging deficit.
AFL-CIO union organizer Rich Templin responds that Scott is trying to crunch the budget numbers on the backs of Florida's most vulnerable, while handing out tax cuts to big business and real estate developers.
"What we saw in the last legislative session was a budget that was balanced almost exclusively on the backs of the poor, of senior citizens, all public sector workers: our teachers, our firefighters, police officers."
A Quinnipiac poll last month reflected Scott's approval rating has dropped to 27 percent. He was elected on a campaign promise to bring jobs to Florida with his "Let's get to work" slogan. Templin says the reality is that 1,300 public workers will lose their jobs on July 1, and Florida's unemployment is one of the highest in the nation, at 11.9 percent.
Festival details are available at http://festival.fightforflorida.com. The fully Quinnipiac University poll is online at www.quinnipiac.edu.