The Florida midterm elections appear to have been a resounding sweep for Republicans. Not only did Republican Rick Scott manage to narrowly win the race for governor, but Republican candidates now hold all three state Cabinet positions as well as a veto-proof majority in both the Florida House and the Florida Senate. Voters also sent Republican Marco Rubio to the U.S. Senate and four new Republicans to the House of Representatives.
The only good news for the Democratic Party was the passage of Amendments 5 and 6, which are meant to keep politicians from making “backroom deals” and redrawing districts to secure their own re-elections. The hope is that this will prevent the Republican-controlled legislature from gerrymandering new seats when districts are redrawn after the 2010 census. What does this mean for Florida residents and Rollins students?
Governor-elect Rick Scott campaigned as “the jobs governor” on a platform of putting people back to work and fixing the economy. If this is the focus of the legislature and the governor once in office, then there is a possibility that the Florida economy could turn around and the unemployment rate could decrease. He carries the burden of reviving Florida’s economy, and he will carry the blame if the economy reaches a stalemate or gets worse.
Scott pledges to create 700,000 jobs in addition to expected job growth in Florida, to help the more than 1 million unemployed. At the same time, he plans on laying off five percent of state workers to decrease the size of the government. He also hopes to pass laws that will prohibit abortion in most cases after the 20th week of pregnancy. While revitalizing the economy, he plans on cutting property taxes by 19 percent and curbing illegal immigration with an Arizona-style law.
For students who have younger siblings in the state of Florida, the failure to pass the revision for the class school size requirements for public schools could cause problems in the near future. When close-to-home public schools reach their caps, children will have to be bussed farther from home. Parents will be forced to choose whether they prefer the small classroom atmosphere or the longer bus rides for their children. Republicans believe this will be back on the ballot in the next two years.
Liberal Amir Sadeh ’14 voted for revising the amendment. “I am somewhat upset. The current law doesn’t hit the intrinsic problem with overcrowding and the idea that there are too many kids in classes. I think solely trying to restrict class size does not get to the problem.”
All of this has Democrats highly worried, especially Lois Frankel, mayor of West Palm Beach. “Women will severely lose their freedom of choice. Public schools will take a back seat to private schools. The people who need government the most are going to suffer the most.”
How do Rollins students feel about the election results? A surprisingly large number did not seem to care or know who won; many more had no political opinion at all. “I wouldn’t be the best person to ask; I don’t even know who won,” was a very common answer across campus.
Chris Taylor ’14 was “saddened by the results of the Florida election, mainly by the fact that less than 50 percent of the population voted. I was a strong supporter of Alex Sink, but I know that because she was so close in votes to Rick Scott that he will understand that 49 percent of Florida want what she was offering and will adapt his policies as such if he wants to be re-elected… All in all, it could have been worse, the Democrats still control the Senate,” he said.
Sadeh stated that the Republican takeover was “expected at some level… Overall, Florida is that swing state. Depending on the political climate of the nation, it really goes either way. As we can see, many people who did not think that Obama was doing enough of a job or as good of a job gave the other side the chance to do better. It is just the pendulum effect. Locally, I think we will definitely see more Republican legislation. However, the next elections are in just two years.”