Why Voucher Expansion Really Died in the Florida Senate

The following is Bob Sikes’ Context Florida piece that was published on March 24.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, explained away the withdrawal of his Senate version of voucher expansion with “there just wasn’t enough time to develop accountability provisions that everybody could agree on.”


Galvano had no such qualms in voting through SB 1642, a bill that confirms Florida’s continuing accountability apparatus earlier this month. And maybe he knew that the votes just weren’t available in the Senate to pass voucher expansion this year.

But Galvano’s cryptic remark that “it would be better if we took time and vetted it out, “ reveals that real problems had suddenly emerged with Florida’s Sales Tax Scholarship Program.

Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory broke the story two  that the CEO of Step Up for Students (SUFS), the administrative agent for Florida’s voucher program appears in a YouTube video in which he brags about the manner in which SUFS goes about its business. Doug Tuthill told a Cal-Berkley audience in 2011 that “one of the primary reasons we’ve been so successful (is) we spend about $1 million every other cycle in local political races, which in Florida is a lot of money. In House races and Senate races, we’re probably the biggest spender in local races.”

Most pols don’t like the implication that their support for legislation has been bought. Nor do they like being played for fools.

Tuthill is reported to have been running all over the Senate Thursday and telling anyone who’d listen that a “well orchestrated campaign” had killed voucher expansion. It’s likeliest that Galvano pulled the bill because too many revelations — Tuthill’s “well-orchestrated campaign” — began to emerge about the organization he runs.

Read the rest.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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