The Race for Florida’s Next Governor

Vying to be the next Governor of Florida are Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Let’s take a look at each candidates’ positions on four critical issues for Florida voters: health care; the environment; gun control; and education.

(1) Health Care

DeSantis said on CNN, “…there really is no lack of health care. If people really need it, they show up to the emergency room, they do get care, it just gets passed on to other folks.”

It’s hard to fathom getting cancer treatments at the ER. But when you consider that DeSantis voted 60 times to repeal Obamacare and was one among many who was incapable of devising a viable alternative, maybe that’s what he really believes.

“What I think you have a right to do is pursue the type of health care you want. Obamacare infringes on your freedom to be able to do that,” DeSantis said. He noted that “childless, able-bodied adults” of working age should not be on Medicaid.

What this would mean for Florida is no Medicaid expansion – again. Florida has the third largest percentage of uninsured adults in the U.S. at 20.1 percent.

Florida could have accepted federal dollars for expansion of the program, but Rick Scott said no thanks and DeSantis has already said he would also refuse Medicaid expansion leaving 384,000 people without health care.

Andrew Gillum campaigned on a platform of “Medicare for all” and says universal health care is a right. As governor, he’s pledged to expand Medicaid and to guarantee care for those with pre-existing conditions.

(2) The Environment

April 19, 2013: “I, Ron DeSantis, pledge to the American people that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political group closely associated with the Koch brothers, sponsored this vow.  Republican lawmakers including DeSantis were moved to this vow by the fossil fuel industry, most notably Charles and David Koch, who own a chain of refineries and 4,000 miles of pipeline that move crude oil.

Gillum has criticized Governor Rick Scott and President Trump for not believing in climate change, saying their inaction “threatens the future of our planet.” He’s promised to promote alternative energy sources as governor.

Trump’s elimination and easing of regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency prompted Gillum to run on tightening state-level standards for air and water quality and cracking down on chronic industrial polluters.

(3) Gun Violence

As to the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead, DeSantis said, “It wasn’t because of the Second Amendment that happened. It was because of an utter failure by the locals and the FBI.”

Regarding the Florida gun control law passed in the aftermath of the shooting, DeSantis said, “I would have vetoed it.” He noted support for enhanced school security and mental health programs, but not restrictions on guns that he views as infringements on the Second Amendment.

DeSantis supports allowing Floridians with concealed weapons permit to carry guns openly and on college campuses.

Gillum called for a series of gun-control measures after the Parkland massacre, including a ban on assault weapons, limiting the size of magazines, banning armor-piercing bullets and prohibiting guns to those with domestic violence felonies or misdemeanors.

The National Rifle Association has given DeSantis an A-grade, and Gillum an F.

(4) Education

DeSantis supports school-choice policies, specifically, expanding charter school and voucher programs. He has praised efforts that encourage more vocational education and training.

DeSantis wants to “stop Common Core”— the standards adopted by 45 out of 50 states as a way to improve education — but the steps he’d take to undo it are not clear.

Gillum wants to spend an additional $1 billion on education, part of which would go toward increasing the minimum salary for teachers to $50,000 per year, and for early-education and vocational training.

But the way Gillum proposes to raise the extra $1 billion — an increase in the corporate income tax from 5.5 percent to 7.75 percent — would require a three-fifths vote in each chamber to raise the corporate income tax above 5 percent.