Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon

Response to State of the State – as Delivered

March 7, 2017

 


·       Good afternoon. I’m Oscar Braynon, and I’m the leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

·       On behalf of the Senate Democratic members, I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes about Governor Scott’s State of the State address today.

·       Not just about what he said, but about what he didn’t, about the promises he’s broken, and why that matters.

·       For the past seven years, Governor Scott has talked a lot about the economy. “It’s all about jobs,” he says.

·       Well, he’s right. We couldn’t agree more. Everyone needs work; everyone needs a job.

·       The problem is the kind of jobs he’s been bringing home to Florida.

·       Because the majority of his jobs are great for teenagers, or someone just starting out, but not for someone with skills, with training, with a strong work history, or a family to support.

·       They’re not the kind of jobs that let you save for that new car, that down payment on a new house, or your kid’s future education.

·       They’re not the kind of jobs that invest in the people.

·       And it’s that commitment to investing in the people that’s been missing from too many areas in the seven years since Governor Scott first took office.

·       In states like Michigan, Arizona, and even Vice President Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana, the governors didn’t stand in the way of the people getting affordable health care.

·       They realized that bankrupting residents because of a medical emergency isn’t the way to prosperity.

·       They realized that the national health care law not only brought more medical coverage for people, but more good paying jobs in the health care field.

·       They knew that you can’t work if you’re sick, you can’t give 100 percent if your body is operating at half power, and you can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself.

·       Time and time again, Governor Scott had the chance to do the right thing, to invest in the people by expanding healthcare coverage in Florida.

·       But he didn’t. He gave the public’s money away in big tax breaks to big companies instead.

·       It was a fool’s errand.

·       From conservative think tanks to top economists, there’s widespread agreement that the way to lure the top companies with the top paying jobs isn’t just dangling tax dollars in front of them.

·       Florida is and has been one of the lowest tax states for business in the country.

·       Business executives want what the rest of us do, and it all comes down to quality of life: good schools and top-notch universities, quality, affordable healthcare, efficient transportation, and clean water and air.

·       They want more than just a state that sells itself as “cheap.”

·       So as Governor Scott continues his sales pitch for more of your dollars for more of his corporate tax cuts, ask him about that big shortfall the state is facing because of these very same policies, and his broken promises to turn Florida around.

·       Ask him about the green sludge fouling Florida’s waters because money was never committed for prevention.

·       Ask him why we’re stuck near the bottom in high school graduation rates and educating our pre-school kids.

·       Ask him why 9,000 more people with developmental disabilities age 21 or older are waitlisted for services, or why we’re at the bottom of the national pack in our commitment to services for the mentally ill, or access to basic health care.

·       And ask him why investments in the people just aren’t as important as the people’s money for his tax incentives.

 




·       If you had the chance, what would you choose?

·       More jobs paying minimum wage, or jobs you could brag about, jobs you were proud of, jobs that were taking you somewhere?

·       If you had the chance, would you check the box for fewer doctors, less medical services, and higher costs?

·       Or would you check the box for a family doctor, preventative services, and treatment  you can afford?

·       As Democrats, we believe in the right choices, the ones that deliver the good jobs we need, and the affordable healthcare we’re missing.

·       We believe in a future that aims higher, that wraps the hopes and dreams of every man and every woman struggling to hold on, into one unified march for better opportunities now – not some faraway date in the future.

·       And we believe that the way that you do this is by investing in the people.

·       Start with education, the great equalizer, and start young. Commit the money our public schools desperately need to shore up crumbling buildings, pay better salaries to our teachers entrusted with educating our children, and provide the tools students need to succeed and stand second to none.

·       Embrace health care coverage for all Floridians, and the financial sense it makes not just in eliminating expensive back-end treatments, but a boon in new high paying jobs.

·       And rethink opportunity and second chances by eliminating criminal records for minor drug and non-violent offenses so that job offers don’t vanish with the application form.

 



·       All of this was missing from Governor Scott’s State of the State speech today. It’s been missing for the past seven years.

·       For all his campaigning as an “outsider” his politics have been focused on the well-being of the insiders, his promised tax cuts mostly tailored for the well-off while the tax bills went to everyone else.

·       In his first campaign for president, former President Obama said: “Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work. That’s the promise of America.”

·       That’s the promise of Florida, too. And that’s the promise Democrats intend to keep.

·       Thank you. 

 

 

 

Michelle DeMarco

Communications Director

Florida Senate Democratic Office

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399

 
 
(An Oldie, Sept. 2011, But Still True)
By plf515 
Daily Kos

Why would anyone vote Republican? Well, here are 10 reasons.

1. You are a bigot

It's true that not all Republicans are bigots. But if you ARE a bigot, the Republican party will be much more your group than the Democratic party. Remember that there are lots of ways to be a bigot: You could be a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, or lots of other things.

2. You like eating, drinking and breathing poison.

Many Republicans are calling for or voting for shrinking or eliminating agencies that protect us against poison. They seem to think that the corporations will do the right thing, without any pressure from the government. Uh huh. Read The Jungle.  Look at the way Monsanto is hiding facts about Round Up. Look at food safety and outbreaks of E. Coli.  

Corporations exist to make money. They will do so any way they can. The government needs to stop them from doing so in ways that hurt people.

3. You think the rich don't have enough money

The idea that giving more money to rich people (via tax breaks) will help poor people is nonsensical and has been shown wrong time and again in history. Huge tax breaks for the rich (a la George Bush) don't work.

4. You don't support our veterans

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran's Association (IAVA) rates every member of congress on how well they support our veterans.  In the Senate, 9 people got A or A+: All were Democrats. 30 got D or F: 29 Republicans and one Democrat.  More on this

5. You like big deficits

Since the end of WW II the ratio of debt to GDP for the nation has gone down in 9 administrations (3 Republican and 6 Democratic) and up in 7 administrations (6 Republican and 1 Democratic).  The largest increases by this measure were GW Bush's 2nd term; GHW Bush, and Reagan's first term. The largest decreases were the three terms right after the end of WWII (Truman and Eisenhower). The last decrease under a Republican was in Eisenhower's 2nd term
source

6. You don't believe in free speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union is the premier defender of our civil liberties, including the right to free speech.  That's free speech for EVERYONE; from Nazis to Marxists to Fred Phelps to anyone else. They rate politicians, including governors, senators and representatives.  12 people got a 100 rating: All were Democrats. 65 people got a score of less than 10: All were Republicans. Only 6 Democrats got a score under 50 (Joe Donnelly,  Michael Ross, Collin Peterson, Joseph Shuler, Mark Critz and David Boren). Only 2 Republicans got scores over 50 (Olympia Snowe and Mark Kirk)  
Full list

7. You like big government

The Republicans like to claim they are against big government. It's a lie. They only object when government helps people. But they are supporters of the Patriot Act; they want the government to say who you can marry; they want the government to forbid abortion; they want the government to be able to spy on you without restraint. Unfortunately, many Democrats agree with them on some of these, but to find opposition to these big government ideas, you have to look to the Democrats.

8. You want government to hurt people, but not help them

This is really just a summation of some other points.

9. You are greedy, short sighted and rich

You really have to be all three for this to work.

If you're rich but not short-sighted, you know that, in the long run, when there is huge income inequality, it leads to things like stock market crashes and revolution, and everyone loses.  In a revolution, it is often the rich who lose most.

If you're rich but not greedy, you recognize that helping others is a good thing, and that the government assuring that people have a safety net is a good thing as well.

10. You like torture

The Democrats don't exactly shine here, but the Republicans are much worse.  It was, after all, Dick Cheney who bragged in his memoir about being a war criminal. It was Don Rumsfeld who opined that a problem in Abu Ghraib was that they weren't torturing prisoners enough.  And it is mostly Democrats who have objected to torture.

Torture is wrong.  It's also stupid. It doesn't work. People who are tortured will say ANYTHING (true or not) that they think their torturers want to hear.




 
 
 
 
 
Historic or horsefeathers?

What should we make of Wal-Mart's decision last week to raise its minimum hourly wage for 500,000 employees? Is this a belated decision to improve the lives of low-paid workers? A white flag to the increasing national labor calls to boost low wages in America?

Perhaps it's an inevitable attempt to remain competitive as the economy gathers steam and workers see more options of where to work. Or is this Wal-Mart blowing smoke, announcing what is in effect a cheap public relations ploy that — for a company approaching a half trillion dollars in annual revenues — won't make much difference?

I'm putting a check mark by "all of the above."

Wal-Mart used to be, hands down, the poster child of low-priced goods and poorly paid workers, or "associates" as the company calls them. But even that brand is fading as consumers find the rise of dollar stores, second-hand thrift stores and the Darwinian pricing of online goods make Walmart store prices seem less rock-bottom than they used to be.

Wal-Mart said Thursday it would raise the base pay for all employees to a minimum of $10 per hour, but only after a yearlong apprenticeship at $9 per hour, or $1.75 above the federal minimum wage.

In the same week, a national survey ranked Walmart last among major retailers in customer satisfaction. Walmart's satisfaction among consumers fell to the lowest level since 2007 on the recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

As Tampa Bay Times retail reporter Sean Daly reported Friday, Wal-Mart workers are certainly celebrating a clearly out-of-the norm decision by Wal-Mart management to up the pay of its least-compensated workers. "Everyone at the store is going to be feeling great," Tampa Walmart worker Angelo Escano told Daly, adding that workers often borrow from one another to make it to the next payday.

This is no worker windfall.

The company's average full-time wage will be $13 an hour, up from $12.85 — a 15-cent-per-hour gain. That translates to a $1.20 gain per day, $6 per week and $312 a year. Part-timers will get $10, up from $9.48, a bigger pay hike but for fewer hours.

Even Walmart department managers will get a bump to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.

This is good news for many, given how Wal-Mart is (at least) the fourth-biggest private employer in the Tampa Bay region. The bottom line is Wal-Mart is giving raises to a good chunk of 12,000 area employees.

But one thing is certain. Wal-Mart never would have contemplated a wage hike if the U.S. economy had not started gathering strength.

When Tampa Bay's unemployment rate topped 10 percent, folks held on to any job they had and were glad to have it. Now Tampa Bay's jobless rate has dropped to 5.5 percent, a signal that businesses are looking to hire and workers are more motivated to seek better-paying opportunities.

Wal-Mart, notorious for high turnover among its vast base of workers, hopes a wage hike will help keep more employees. In 2014, turnover in retail generally averaged about 66 percent for part-time hourly sales associates and 27 percent for full-time workers with benefits, according to the Hay Group consulting firm.

This is the same Wal-Mart ridiculed after one of its stores in Canton, Ohio, held a food drive that asked employees to donate items to fellow associates.

Retail industry observers say that, given its sheer clout, Wal-Mart's action will ripple across other store chains.

"Target will feel the pressure to respond," Burt Flickinger, managing director at New York's Strategic Resource Group, told Bloomberg News. "It's a competitive market for workers." Target pays its cashiers $7.42 to $10.09.

Struggling retailers like Sears will now feel even more pressure to hire and keep workers. And fast-food chains, recently facing a series of protests seeking $15-an-hour pay, will certainly be rethinking their options.

Some businesses already have opted to raise their wages. Stores like the Gap and Ikea recently chose to set hourly wages at or above $9. On the higher end, Costco's pay scale is known to be close to $20 an hour, no doubt a strong contributor to Costco ranking tops in the ACSI ranking among specialty retail stores.

It's not just retailers. St. Petersburg recently agreed to set a $12.50-per-hour minimum wage for city workers, with an eventual goal of $15 per hour. And financial service giant Aetna last month said it will boost the pay of its lowest-paid workers to $16 an hour.

The investor world treated Wal-Mart's wage move with skepticism.

Barclays analysts on Friday downgraded the company to "equal weight" from "overweight" and lowered its price target to $85 from $90.

"Like many other global companies, we faced significant headwinds from currency exchange rate fluctuations, so I'm pleased that we delivered fiscal year revenue of $486 billion," Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said in reporting earnings.

"But, we're not satisfied," he added.

Wage bump or not, I doubt if Wal-Mart's bottom-rung workers are either.

For a Wal-Mart employee earning $9 per hour, it would take more than 1,360 years to make the $25.6 million in compensation CEO McMillon received in 2014.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.


10 reasons why Wal-Mart still matters

1. The 1.2 million jobs Wal-Mart provides in the United States alone roughly equals the number of employed folks in the entire Tampa Bay metro area. Worldwide, Wal-Mart employs 2.2 million.

2. Its market value of $269 billion dwarfs the combined value of every publicly traded company in the Tampa Bay area.

3. It remains the largest retailer on the planet, the largest private employer in the United States.

4. In the grocery business, it is second only in market share to Publix in the state of Florida.

5. Among the 10 richest U.S. billionaires, four are related to Wal-Mart's founding Walton family.

6. In Hernando County, it's the biggest private employer.

7. In Pasco County, it's the fourth-biggest private employer.

8. In Hillsborough County, it's the fourth-biggest private employer.

9. In Pinellas County, it's the fourth-biggest private employer.

10. In the entire Tampa Bay area, it's the fourth-largest private employer, and probably rising.


Will long awaited wage bump by Walmart really make a difference? 02/20/15 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2015 5:12pm] 
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