Florida’s charter school zealots vowed to go after the republican senators who voted against parent trigger earlier this year and are using the Koch brothers money to do it. The campaigns are targeted against Sen. Greg Evers (Milton), Sen. Nancy Deter (Sarasota) and Sen. Charlie Dean (Inverness). The Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Jeremy Wallace reports on the reason the group is dissatisfied with Detert:
The ads blast Detert for supporting tax breaks for sports facilities and spring training sites such as the Ed Smith Sports Complex in Sarasota to keep teams in Florida. Senate Bill 306, cited by the ads, created an application process allowing teams to apply for a pot of $15 million in annual sports incentive money.
Detert, who represents all of Sarasota County and part of Charlotte, backed that bill, but opposed giving direct support to sports franchises for stadiums such as the Miami Dolphins’. Detert said she has supported past taxpayer funding for spring training stadiums and for the Nathan Benderson Rowing Park in Sarasota because they create jobs and boost the tourism economy.
Still, O’Brien characterized Detert’s vote as support for tax giveaways and corporate welfare.
O’Brien said Detert was a target because she voted against a pension reform bill last spring and an education reform bill that would have allowed private charter schools to more easily take over failing public schools, and backed a plan to expand Medicaid to provide health coverage to more of the poor in Florida.
Tax giveaways and corporate welfare? What do you call that cozy little tax shifting to a school voucher fund is that corporations execute? And pay no attention to all those taxpayer dollars that go to testing corporations. The wording in the TV spots are far more misleading as the senators are accused of voting against helping kids in failing schools.
Detert said she has no regrets about twice helping kill the parent trigger bill and considers it one of her biggest successes in 2013.
“It was my favorite fight,” Detert, R-Venice, said.
The parent trigger law would allow parents at failing schools to turn the schools over to a private charter school company.
But Detert repeatedly fought the effort, saying it turns over taxpayer-funded schools over to for-profit companies without forcing them to pay rent or pay back the bonds taxpayers are saddled with paying for.
Detert said she was standing up for the taxpayers and their investment. She said she can’t understand how the AFP could characterize that as being against the taxpayers in ads.
Though Detert helped lead the defeat of the bill in 2012, few thought she could repeat that victory in the Senate in 2013 because some of her key allies had left the Senate. Still after Detert made and impassioned plea, the bill died again.
During a big floor speech last spring, Detert pointed out that charter schools have a higher failure rate than public schools. She pointed to state Department of Education data showing 5 percent of charter schools are failing — compared to 1 percent of public schools.
AFP argues in their ad that Detert failed to help kids in failing schools and turned her back on the needs of the taxpayers.
Ironically, the ads were released on the same day that Detert was being honored by the Children’s Guardian Fund in Sarasota for her work in advocating for children in foster care. Detert passed two key pieces of legislation in 2013 that allow children to stay in the foster care system longer and changes regulations to allow them to participate in more after school events that they’ve faced road blocks for in the past.
Detert’s reforms have become a national model and was featured in Congressional hearings earlier this year.
The group is perhaps doing the bidding of the Florida Chamber of Commerce who appeared to know who the no-votes were ahead of time. For some reason, they haven’t focused ads on the other three republican senators who voted against parent trigger: Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (Miami) , Rene Garcia (Miami) and Jack Latvala (Clearwater).