Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Gov. Rick Scott’s Failure to Lead in Florida
Press Release

RELEASE: Gov. Rick Scott’s Failure to Lead in Florida

Washington, D.C. — In four years as governor of Florida, Rick Scott (R) has failed to lead on issues that would help working- and middle-class Floridians get ahead, instead supporting policies that would only help the wealthiest residents. From failing to expand Medicaid and increase the minimum wage, to ignoring climate change as a central threat to his state, Gov. Scott has hurt the lives and livelihoods of millions of Floridians—many of whom are from communities of color. A new Center for American Progress Action Fund report released today details “Scott’s Failure to Lead,” and a new Public Policy Polling, or PPP, survey shows how Floridians disagree with his harmful positions.

Gov. Scott has repeatedly opposed raising the minimum wage. Increasing the wage to $10.10 would help 1.7 million Floridians earn a fair wage and reinvest it into local businesses. While Scott says politicians talking about the minimum wage make him “cringe,” workers are losing out on $2.1 billion in wages. A PPP poll from October 3–4 found that 55 percent of Floridians think the best way to create an economy that works for everyone is to pay fair wages and invest in American workers, and 79 percent say they couldn’t support their family on the state’s minimum wage.

“While we have seen our economy create millions of jobs during the recovery, many hard working Americans are being left behind by conservative policies that funnel wealth to a select few,” said Gov. Ted Strickland, President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “When workers make a fair wage, they spend more money at local businesses, which helps our economy grow and create jobs. Gov. Scott should be supporting Florida’s workers, but instead, he opposes higher wages and expanded access to health care and even puts the state’s economy at risk by ignoring the impacts of climate change.”

Despite Florida having the third-highest uninsured rate in the nation, Scott has failed to lead. Instead, he buckled to special interest pressure by opposing an expansion of Medicaid. Some 764,000 Floridians fall into the coverage gap as a result, meaning they are priced out of affordable health care.

While Gov. Scott’s opposition to expanding Medicaid and increasing the minimum wage are hurting workers today, his stance on climate change threatens to harm the state for generations. Initially a climate denier, Gov. Scott now says he is “not a scientist,” a new talking point for conservatives who are trying to skirt the issue. Florida is one of the states most at risk from the impacts of climate change, with Miami in line to be one of the world’s most impacted cities. Sea-level rise and the damage from violent storms could cost up to $9 billion in lost tourism by 2025 and $40 billion by 2050. Even Gov. Scott’s own $9.2 million mansion is under threat from sea-level rise; but, as is typical, low-income families and communities of color would be affected most when major weather disasters hit.

“It is clear that Gov. Scott’s policies are hurting Floridians today and could for generations to come,” Gov. Strickland said. “His failure to lead is a threat to the state’s economic security and could leave the state, and his own home, underwater.”

The Center for American Progress Action Fund is the sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress. The Action Fund transforms progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing and advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world. The Action Fund is also the home of the Progress Report.

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Benton Strong at 202.481.8142 or bstrong1@americanprogress.org.