Rick Scott and the Florida legislature have ignored the will of the people

From the Gainsville Sun

In his Speaking Out published elsewhere on these pages today, Gov. Rick Scott writes as though some natural disaster — some “perfect storm” — is responsible for Florida’s education funding shortfall. That’s nonsense.

Scott and the Florida Legislature are entirely responsible for slashing school, college and university budgets by hundreds of millions of dollars. And they fully intend to continue slashing in the upcoming session.

It is a lack of political will, not Mother Nature, that is to blame.

That’s why we’re glad the 1st District Court of Appeal this week decided not to kill a lawsuit alleging that the state is failing to meet a constitutional mandate to maintain and finance a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality system of free public schools.”

Indeed, in approving the amendment, in 1998, Florida voters said upholding that mandate would be a “paramount duty” of state government.

Scott and legislators seem to believe that cutting taxes and laying off teachers is their paramount duty.

The district court rejected the state’s request to throw the lawsuit out. It also certified the issues raised in the suit as matters of “great public importance.”

That means the Florida Supreme Court, if it chooses to do so, now has the opportunity to take up the lawsuit and decide whether that constitutional amendment is worth the paper it’s printed on.

If justices ultimately decide that Scott and the Legislature may continue to ignore their paramount duty with impunity, then a “perfect storm” — a confluence of political neglect and judicial indifference — will indeed wreck havoc with Florida’s education system.


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