If he’s elected governor again, Democrat Charlie Crist says he’ll sign five executive orders on inauguration day to do things like prevent workplace discrimination, open government and raise the minimum wage for workers contracting with the state.
Crist announced what he’s calling the “First Day of Fairness” plan Tuesday morning at Enoch Davis Center in South St. Petersburg.
“And the things that I would like to do if I win, right after I get sworn in include the following: make government open, honest and transparent; raise the minimum wage for contractors doing business with state agencies that the governor controls to ten-ten [$10.10/hour]; fight for equal pay for employees of state contractors; protect LGBT employees from discrimination in the workplace and ensure Florida tax dollars go to Florida businesses and workers to the extent that that’s possible.
“Let me go into a little bit more details on what that means. Open and transparent government: we will require all communication about official business to be retained as current law requires. We will direct State agencies to produce public records at the lowest possible cost, available to all Floridians, including all of you [in the media], obviously; and in a Crist administration, the governor office of open government will actually advocate on behalf of the public’s right to know, not work against it.
“Minimum wage: we will raise the minimum wage for contractors doing business with the state to $10.10 an hour. The concept of a minimum wage, Rick Scott has said makes him cringe.
“We will fight for equal pay: state contractors working with executive agencies will certify they will not retaliate against employees who share salary information; executive agencies will establish new procedures requiring contractors to report wage data, including information on gender and race.
“Prevent discrimination against LGBT workers: executive action will prohibit any form of discrimination within their agencies on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“And, investing Florida taxes dollars in Florida businesses: direct government to make every effort within the bounds of the law to hire Floridians and Florida businesses for the work they do for the state.
“It’s now a great honor for me … These are five executive orders, by the way, that I will sign on a day I am inaugurated, immediately after I am inaugurated. The first of the five would be the one directed toward transparency. I think it’s fundamentally important that you have access to your government, that travel records are not redacted, you don’t have to pay exorbitant fees in order to get records that are rightfully yours. I know it’s frustrating for you in the media, you have a job to do, you are public servants, too. And the job you have to do should not be hard and should not be hindered. The Scott administration has done exactly that to you. Meaning he has done that exactly to the people of Florida. You are their eyes and their ears and you deserve access to your government.”
Crist also called for an investigation into the private passenger rail line planned for Florida’s east coast, hinting that Governor Rick Scott’s chief of staff might have interfered.
“All Aboard Florida is fraught with a lot of questions right now and I think it deserves to be investigated. We are not sure that All Aboard Florida Florida came to be.”
Reporter: “What kind of investigation are you talking about?”
“A good one, an honest one, a transparent one, one where we can find out how the Governor’s chief of staff lobbied him before he became his chief of staff to try to make this thing come about. I mean there is so many things going on up there that we don’t know the answer to because frankly he won’t answer any questions. You know, it’s like pleading the Fifth, I mean we shouldn’t really be surprised that the media is treated the way you are with this governor, and he won’t answer questions when you ask him point blank for answers. So it aught to be investigated, number one, to see how it came about. I’m troubled by it .You know, the citizens in the communities that would be directly affected initially seem to be troubled by it. So, we need to do things right, do them in the open.”
It’s not certain yet how many debates will happen between Rick Scott and his challengers after next month’s primary. Scott said today he would debate the Democratic nominee three times in October: with CNN, Telemundo and Leadership Florida. But Crist responded that there should be several more debates with different formats.
“I think that Floridians should decide what debates we do. And I have in front of me a microphone from another group that is asked us to do a debate, and I think will do the Univision debate also, in addition to the three he is limiting himself, too, apparently. I also think that the Tampa Bay Times is sponsoring one and is offering to do one with CBS, if I am not mistaken. I think we should do that, too. I think we should do a town hall-style debate. We can’t debate enough, because there is a lot to debate about. And it’s about the future of Florida and it’s about fundamental fairness that I have talked about this morning. It’s about raising the minimum wage; it’s about, you know, being fair to women and having equal pay for women; it’s about not discriminating against LGBT or anybody else on any other basis. And the fact that governor Scott wants to try to limit this and to control it, is not surprising to me: he tries to control everything. And so, I wish he would debate more; I doubt that he will. But I look forward to debating about what he’s done in the next three months of this campaign and I’ll all stay focused on it because Florida deserves better.”
Crist reiterated that he will not debate his only opponent in next month’s Democratic primary, Nan Rich, saying he’s “focused on Rick Scott.”
When asked about immigration, Crist said he supports the new law giving undocumented Florida students in-state tuition at state colleges, but he also wants to make it easier for immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
“I am familiar with the legislation you indicated he did sign but good luck getting to school. You know, if you don’t have a driver’s license, how’re you going to get there? And so if we’re going to be fair to everybody in Florida, we need to do the right thing and sign both of those bills to make sure that they have the opportunity not only to get an education, but to get to that education.”
In addition to the proposals he unveiled Tuesday, Crist said he would call a special legislative session to expand Medicaid to an additional one million Floridians.
information from the Associated Press was used in this report