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Rick Scott’s Liability to Taxpayers: As Lawsuits Against His Policies Mount, So Do Costs

| November 7, 2011

He might want to invest in a cost-benefit analysis on himself. (© FlaglerLive)

The pace of controversial laws and legally questionable edicts coming out of Tallahassee this year has been so ferocious, it’s almost easy to forget how close to the constitutional edge state leaders have ventured.

Courts have found that legislation championed by Gov. Rick Scott requiring the drug-testing of welfare applicants was unconstitutional. An analysis by the Department of Children and Families of the first round of drug-testing also proved the policy wasn’t very smart. Only 2 percent of applicants tested positive. That figure, far below the national average of 8.7 percent (and 8.13 statewide), cost the state between $30,000 and $40,000 a month to reimburse the 98 percent who took the test and passed.

Now it will cost the state more money because on Thursday Scott’s administration decided to appeal the court ruling.

And the lawyers’ meter just keeps ticking away: cha-ching, cha-ching.

It hasn’t been a good year for drug laws. Earlier this summer, two judges found that the 2002 state legislature did such a bad job of writing the state’s drug laws that the laws were unconstitutional, causing the release of people who had already been convicted. Legal experts are hoping lawmakers will fix the law in the next session. Although considering the track record of this crowd, that could lead to even more cha-ching moments.

Courts also found that Scott and the legislature’s plan to privatize prisons was unconstitutional. On this one, Scott demurred on appealing the ruling. So the legislature did it for him.

florida center for investigative reportingOne chamber of the legislature is also appealing a court ruling that sided with Florida taxpayers in a suit filed by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Mario Diaz-Balart against the immensely popular Fair Districts Amendments. The two Fair Districts amendments, approved by 63 percent of Florida voters, prohibit drawing up election districts to favor an individual or a party. The state House of Representatives apparently opposes such a concept to the point that it’s willing to fight it in court — and allow taxpayers to foot the bill.

Cha-ching.

A judge also found that a recently passed law prohibiting doctors from asking patients any questions about guns unless there was a “compelling” reason was unconstitutional. Scott has vowed to appeal.

Cha-ching.


And then there’s the new Florida law restricting voter registration and access. It places harsh fines on anyone who tries to conduct voter registration drives and doesn’t turn in every registration within 48 hours, it cuts the amount of days for early voting and the number of hours for precincts to stay open, and eliminates changes of address and names on voting day at precincts. The whole thing is so perplexing and unwieldy that it may be historic: the one time that the tea party and the American Civil Liberties Union agree on anything.

Still pending is a lawsuit against a new law forcing public employees to pay three percent into their pensions. If the state loses that one, it could create an $860 million gap in the state budget.

Almost all the laws have one thing in common (other than being challenged as unconstitutional or found unconstitutional): They weren’t written to address any legitimate problem. Study after study found no rampant voter fraud, welfare recipients aren’t all a bunch of drug addicts, and there is no great medical conspiracy to do away with the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, the National Assessment of Educational Progress came out last week. And it does point to a legitimate problem. After a decade-long climb in test results, the scores of Florida children are in the doldrums. For the second straight year, Florida’s schoolchildren did not improve in math and reading. The stalls seem to coincide with stiff cuts in education spending. Since 2007, the state has axed 12 percent from school funding for public education.

Not enough cha-ching for the children.

--Ralph De La Cruz, FCIR

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22 Responses for “Rick Scott’s Liability to Taxpayers: As Lawsuits Against His Policies Mount, So Do Costs”

  1. The Truth says:

    Why is it that every picture taken of this guy, he looks like a complete idiot? I can understand a few pictures every so often, but it seems every picture I’ve seen of him he looks like the one in this article.

  2. Prescient33 says:

    I’m shocked, shocked to learn we live in a litigious society. I am almost equally shocked to learn that among Governor Scott’s opponents there are lawyers that will bring suit to thwart the objectives of democratically elected legislative bodies that have lawfully enacted laws they deem necessary for the protection of the people who elected them. And in doing so the opponents seek out lower court judges that share their views of opposing the efforts of the legislature and Governor Scott. However for anyone to object to defending legislative acts is beyond the pale, as far as I am concerned. Applying reductio ad absurdum to those objectors, can not one maintain that the Obama’s regime’s defense of Obamacre in the face of the several lower courts finding it unconstitutional is wrong?
    Litigation is costly, and lower court judges often are wrong, so to object to a duly elected government using resources to defend from lawsuits is plain stupid.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    I am glad that what goes around, comes around P33, sooner or later. Good speech to undermine the rights of most. I would like to see the very few opportunities of success if any left, your grandchildren will have with, in a country based in your rhetoric specifications. Furthermore this Governor should be recalled.

  4. Geezer Butler says:

    Thank goodness that the law provides remedies for ridiculous special-interest legislation.

    Too bad that the law failed so colossally when Rick Scott’s firm bilked Medicare/Medicaid for $7000,000.
    Why isn’t this joker at a rock-pile, swinging a sledgehammer while wearing stripes, under the watchful eye of a deputy with mirrored sunglasses and a shotgun?
    Heck, he could have bunked with Bernie Madoff.

    HE WAS ELECTED GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA.
    We were Rick-Rolled by our fellow Floridians.

    The shame of it.

    Alex Sink where art thou?

  5. Kip Durocher says:

    Both Dem and Rep parties have their “agenda.” In general the Dem agenda seems to have a bit of meat here and there thrown to the unwashed masses. In direct contrast the Rep agenda has always been to cater to the wealthy and corporate America. In Scott, as with all Limbaughians, the mind is a fertile place to dream up history and narrate the future. Even in our “litigious society” it is one hell of a stretch to equate an attempt to give more people health care with lawsuits against voter approved amendments and the reinsertion of Jim Crow laws under new fancy names. And I remember Florida with Jim Crow laws.
    I am in agreement with Pierre ~ I may not live long enough to again see the tea party and the ACLU in agreement on some issue.
    Drug testing any “group”, be they Republican women or welfare queens, is settled law.
    As Cheney says, “That dog won’t hunt.” Please don’t waste my tax money on it.
    But that leaves one question that should be litigated for a few more rounds
    When a person spends over 70 million dollars of their own money can the election ever be called “a duly elected government.”
    This gangster is for sure a one term wonder.

  6. NortonSmitty says:

    Anybody know how to find out which State and National Republican connected LawyerPiggies are feeding off us thanks to Uncle Ricks TantrumTrough?

  7. Jojo says:

    This man has an axe to grind because of his past sins and will ruin this State.

  8. MSFB says:

    Alex Sink is home laughing her ass off at all the stupid Floridians who voted for this clown. Sow stupidity and you reap stupidity…

  9. Riley says:

    The question was raised,” why does Rick Scott look like an idiot in every picture that is taken of him”. The answer is, BECAUSE HE IS AN IDIOT. Nothing he has done in office for the last eleven months has been for the good of the people of Florida, only his special interest buddies.

  10. Angie says:

    Doing the right thing in government rarely ever comes without opposition.

    And why is it that when Democrats like Obama CHA-CHING us up the wazoo, you say nothing?

  11. palmcoaster says:

    Sorry Angie…but the one that really Cha-Ching us up…was Bush and he made sure he left all the bills to be paid by Obama. Where do you come up with this tale? Who started these economically undermining wars and based in lies..? Bush. Who gave more tax breaks to the rich…? Bush. Who totally deregulated the oil companies so they can suck up our non renewable resources and export it for $$$ and can contaminate with total impunity our environment and gauge us at the pump as they wish…? Bush.
    Lets give credit were credit is due, specially when the credit issue stinks.
    Example: this morning gas was at 3.31 at the pump…right now at 3.39…is this gouging or what? The one thing I criticize Obama, is for not ruling against these abusive oil trades. Also his inaction in his first term with the house and senate Demo majority and he wasted precious time looking for a mirage and never materialized consensus. Both parties manage to screw us up, one more than the other. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/07/362488/wall-street-profit-obama-bush/

  12. Mike says:

    Angie: You call this the “right thing”?! Can I borrow your rose-colored glasses?

  13. Jojo says:

    Angie, Alex Sink knew a little something about Gov’t. Your boy Scott has no idea what he is doing. I take that back, he does know something, how to make the rich richer and put the poor in the street. One timer Angie. You get one bite at the apple and good riddance. He won’t starve nor will his cronies.

  14. Liana G says:

    So this guy robs the gov’t/taxpayers $7,000,000 gets away with it. Well folks if I ever get the opportunity, that’s the way I’m going to do it too. Sorry, I am not going to be branded a thief over peanuts and small change. The guy is no idiot. $7,000,000 over the course of how many years? And this is what we know of. Who knows what other discoveries got quietly buried or was never discovered. Maybe we should privitize the system because gov’t is not doing such a hot job and we the taxpayers are doing a lousy job guarding the hen house.

    Maybe not too many welfare receipients are on drugs but the bill does reimburse the fees to those who pass the test. And for those who don’t, please tell me how we are helping them when we perpetuate the situation by continuing to feed their habit AND endangering those around them? I guess individual privacy is the greater good here and trumps saving the individual’s life and those they endanger.

    Officials fear for infants born to prescription drug addicts (July 27, 2011)

    “According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug overdose deaths in Florida are up a staggering 265% since 2003. But it’s not just the deaths that have Florida officials worried; it’s the births.

    “We saw the number of crack babies that died, and this is just another version of that,” Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti said. “We all need to be concerned.”

    According to state health records, 635 Florida babies were born addicted to prescription drugs in the first half of 2010 alone. South Florida doctors and intensive care nurses report an dramatic uptick in babies born hooked on pills that their mothers abused while pregnant.”

    http://articles.cnn.com/2011-07-27/us/addicted.at.birth_1_fastest-growing-drug-problem-prescription-drugs-drug-abuse?_s=PM:US

  15. Kip Durocher says:

    In case no one notices ~ yesterday was a great start in taking back America
    Ohio ~ labor and union restrictions ~ defeated
    Arizona ~ author of draconian immigration law ~ defeated in recall
    Mississippi ~ draconian anti-abortion law ~ defeated

    Scott you are a one term blunder

  16. palmcoaster says:

    Great day yesterday to go back and recover ” Our American Dream for all” Lets keep up the batttle for the middle class rights.

  17. Nancy N. says:

    umm, Liana, do you have any evidence that a single one of those 635 babies was born to a woman on state aid? The data you quoted doesn’t support your argument.

    The data you quoted WOULD however support mandatory drug testing for every pregnant woman…but oops, we can’t do that, can we? Because pregnant women have rights. It’s only if you are POOR that you don’t.

  18. Liana G says:

    Nancy, I guess I was going under the assumption that women with resources would have opted for aborting the pregnancy to prevent exposing the baby to harm. However, Dr. Ira Chasnoff research on drug abuse proved me wrong. Thank you for bringing this up.

    While common sense makes me want to believe that babies born to women of means would have access to better medical care and perhaps fare better, I’m not so sure if this is true. But, the problem of how to prevent/help those who do not have the resources still remains and the life are we setting the kids up for.

    Drug Abuse

    …”Contrary to popular perception, the problem is not seen only among poor people. Dr. Ira Chasnoff, an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Northwestern University, president of NAPARE and a noted researcher on the problem of drug babies, studied the rate of drug use among pregnant women in Florida and found almost no difference in the prenatal drug problem of poor women at public health departments and the problem among middle-class and upper-class women paying for private medical care. Nor did he find significant statistical differences when comparing drug abuse among pregnant women of different races, although black women are about 10 times more likely to be charged with drug abuse. Hospitals are seeing drug abusers of all socioeconomic statuses abandoning their infants, uncommon from all statuses in previous years.”…

    http://encyclopedia.adoption.com/entry/drug-abuse/118/1.html

  19. Liana G says:

    Nancy, I guess I was going under the assumption that women with resources would have opted for aborting the pregnancy to prevent exposing the baby to harm. However, Dr. Ira Chasnoff research on drug abuse proved me wrong. Thank you for bringing this up.

    While common sense makes me want to believe that babies born to women of means would have access to better medical care and perhaps fare better, I’m not so sure if this is true. But, the problem of how to prevent/help those who do not have the resources still remains in addition to the life that we are setting the kids up for.

    Drug Abuse

    …”Contrary to popular perception, the problem is not seen only among poor people. Dr. Ira Chasnoff, an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Northwestern University, president of NAPARE and a noted researcher on the problem of drug babies, studied the rate of drug use among pregnant women in Florida and found almost no difference in the prenatal drug problem of poor women at public health departments and the problem among middle-class and upper-class women paying for private medical care. Nor did he find significant statistical differences when comparing drug abuse among pregnant women of different races, although black women are about 10 times more likely to be charged with drug abuse. Hospitals are seeing drug abusers of all socioeconomic statuses abandoning their infants, uncommon from all statuses in previous years.”…

    http://encyclopedia.adoption.com/entry/drug-abuse/118/1.html

  20. Dorothea says:

    Liana, let’s get back to the governor’s abuse of power and stop bickering over forcing women who can’t afford food for their children, to pay for drug testing. Use your google power to find the cost of a drug test. Yea, I know, they will get reimbursed somewhere down the line. But what happens if they can’t afford the test in the first place?

    Scott’s latest dictorial outrage is the worst yet. He has ordered 180,000 voters off the voting rolls, most of them Hispanic. Could this have anything to do with strong Hispanic support in Florida for President Obama? You bet it does. If the Republicans can’t win elections with lies and more lies spewing out over your TV, they are going to steal elections by voter suppression.

    http://thegrio.com/2012/05/31/report-justice-department-orders-florida-to-stop-purging-voter-rolls/

  21. Kip Durocher says:

    yes… we here in Florida are suffering at the hands of this crook…took the 5th 75 times….now he has state agencies looking at land owned and what may be “excess” to be sold (read: to donors and fiends) “for other uses.” Florida Forever” purchases were supposed to be just that and “Glow” Scott wants to revise that. I can not find one damn person in the whole effing state who will admit to voting for the crook.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/rick-scotts-proposed-legislation-lawsuits-million-cost_n_1719823.html

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