Governor Crist Lacks the Moral Authority to Raid Chiles Endowment

5 01 2009

By Kartik Krishnaiyer

Last week Governor Crist claimed that his raid of the Chiles Endowment Trust Fund would be “repaid quickly.”

The Tallahassee Democrat last Wednesday had this report:

Key to Crist’s plan is $600 million borrowed from the Lawton Chiles Endowment and using $135 million in payments from the Seminole Tribe that’s a part of an agreement Crist made but the court’s struck down.

Crist said the Chiles money will be repaid promptly. The late governor’s family has threatened legal action if the state sells assets of the health-care fund, and may ask that the Chiles name be removed from the endowment if it is treated like a regular revenue source.

The Governor’s plan is not only fiscally irresponsible but it is immoral. As someone who in the State Senate fought Governor Chiles every step of the way during his fight for Florida’s Children Crist does not have the moral authority to make this choice. In 1995, Crist voted to repeal the State’s lawsuit against Big Tobacco as a Senator. In 1996, Crist voted to override the Governor’s veto. This override attempt failed by one vote.

Then Senator Crist as Chairman of Ethics and Elections Committee used state money to undertake a painstaking investigation of the lawsuit and the attorneys who bravely represented the state against the Tobacco industry. Governor Crist may be wooing Democrats by the force of his personality in 2009, but in 1995 and 1996 he was nothing but a petty partisan politician who tried to score political points by attacking a Democratic Governor and everything he stood for. Governor Crist did not have the best interests of the state of Florida in mind in 1995 and 1996 but those of the Republican Party. Now in 2009, who is to believe he is not simply trying to dismantle something that the GOP fought against with all their vigor in the mid ninties?

In today’s Florida Legislature where term limits have ripped out the institutional memory of these deeds, Governor Crist has been able to manipulate the Legislature into believing he’s a champion for Children. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Crist has for years eyed the Chiles Endowment for elimination. He fought against its formation in 1995 and 1996, scoring enought points with big business and the tobacco industry to jump start his statewide political career. What objective observer can really believe he’s changed his stripes now?

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9 responses

5 01 2009
Anonymous

Let me get this right. Governor Crist is a moral hypocrite for taking money that has been generated because of legislative trickery and using it to prevent programs from being cut?

In your piece you attempt to pontificate and give us a history lesson, but yet fail to mention the lawsuit itself was snuck through the legislature at midnight when no one was paying attention and then the state wasted TAXPAYER money litigating and overpaying high priced trial lawyers who were chosen for the case based on contributions to Governor Chiles and the Democratic Party.

The lawsuit itself never should have been under taken. It hurt the business climate in Florida, as the Democrats and their Trial Lawyer allies wanted to spend taxpayer money to sue every business. Thankfully Governor Bush took care of this problem as soon as he assumed office.

This website appears to simply be a liberal rag. I guess you need someplace to whine.

5 01 2009
The Florida Voice

In your piece you attempt to pontificate and give us a history lesson, but yet fail to mention the lawsuit itself was snuck through the legislature at midnight when no one was paying attention and then the state wasted TAXPAYER money litigating and overpaying high priced trial lawyers who were chosen for the case based on contributions to Governor Chiles and the Democratic Party.

Sounds like the talking points went out this morning. The bill was snuck through the Legislature but so was the repeal. I was actually in the chamber when the repeal passed. Speaker Wallace voted the right way but the rest of the body seemed disinterested. The lobbyists for the industry had made sure it passed.

It took real moral convictions and courage for Governor Chiles to take on big tobacco and their lobbying machine.

It hurt the business climate in Florida, as the Democrats and their Trial Lawyer allies wanted to spend taxpayer money to sue every business. Thankfully Governor Bush took care of this problem as soon as he assumed office.

Bush and his legislative allies led by Tom Feeney kept stating that cutting taxes and preventing lawsuits would stimulate the economy in Florida. Nothing could be further from the truth. The constant tax cuts dove us towards statewide budget and fiscal crises in the early part of this decade and have done the same again currently.

5 01 2009
Roger

This is a very good piece.

But what are the Democrats doing about it?

Are they fighting these attempts to gut the legacy of Governor Chiles?

From what I can tell they seem to be taking a pass on it.

5 01 2009
Molly

Agreed, Roger. D’s may not have the votes to do anything but they have the voices to raise awareness. They are too quiet up there.

6 01 2009
RB

I have a simple question. Where would you find $600 million to alleviate this shortfall? The money is sitting there and needs to be used. I’m sorry but the Chiles Endowment cannot be off budget at these tough times. Ideally yes, and we can get back to that if we can ride out this storm.

6 01 2009
kkfla737

The money is sitting there and needs to be used. I’m sorry but the Chiles Endowment cannot be off budget at these tough times.

So what’s the point of a trust fund if it can be raided?

These tough times were created by the fiscal irresponsibility of the state government by recklessly cutting taxes without curtailing state services. The promised economic growth never occurred and for the last eight years we’ve been in and out of almost constant crisis mode with the state as evidenced by the number of special sessions and times various trust funds have had to be raided.

The legacy of Leroy Collins, Reuben Askew, Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles is being undone with remarkable haste by the current leadership of the state.

6 01 2009
Anonymous

CHAINGANG CHARLIE STRIKES AGAIN!

6 01 2009
J.V.R.

I’m hoping the Chiles family sues the state. That is the only way to stop the program and trust fund from being permanently gutted. The Legislature does not have the political will to stop this from happening.

7 01 2009
Proud Florida Liberal

” CHAINGANG CHARLIE STRIKES AGAIN!”

Ditto.

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