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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. 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.

       2 likes

  2. 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.

       1 likes

  3. 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

       0 likes

  4. 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

       0 likes

  5. 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/

       0 likes

  6. 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

       0 likes

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