I noted the following in The Ledger’s account of the Chamber legislative wrap-up gala:
“We made the decision that K through 12 be held as harmless as possible during the budget cutting,” said Rep. Seth McKeel of Lakeland, who chairs and is on several education committees.
“Many of us broke with a pledge not to raise taxes to do that. We also took $3.5 billion in federal stimulus package funds. We could not have held education harmless without it, but that money runs out in two years,” he said.
If Seth McKeel’s forceful use of “we” to describe who decided to save Florida education funding includes Congressional Democrats and Barack Obama, then he is correct. Yet, somehow those pesky identities don’t show up in the actual sentence. At least McKeel, a Republican, publicly credits stimulus funds for “holding education harmless.” But it’s worth remembering that not a single Republican in the US House of Representatives had any interest in helping Florida hold education harmless.
It’s also worth noting that if the Teabaggers that would-be congressman Dennis Ross eagerly addressed a few weeks back had gotten their way, there would be no holding Florida education harmless. That likely would have led to either hundreds of teachers layoffs or a four-day school week. Understand that a four-day school week imposes a new tax on working parents, who must come up with the money or time to account for their children on the weekday when classes are shut down. So the Teabaggers, probably without realizing it, are all for new taxes on working families. Life is not a bumper sticker, folks.
All of this raises a question for McKeel and Ross and any other Republican legislator or politician: Would you have voted for the stimulus plan? Or would it have been better to let Florida cut thousands of teachers and make life more difficult and expensive for Florida’s working families?