Democratic leaders react to "State of the State" listen03/05/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Last night we aired a large portion of Gov. Charlie Cristâ€™s State of the State Address. Immediately afterward, the Democratic leaders in the Senate and House responded.
Sen. Steve Geller of Halledale Beach reacted first. Geller said it when it comes to cut, everything needs to be looked at, not just reducing spending. He said these are complex problems, and canâ€™t be solved by bumper sticker solutions.
Senate Democrats will oppose any broad tax increases, Geller said, but he thinks tax loopholes should be cut. In the Senate, Democrats control just 14 of 40 seats.
Dan Gelber, Democratic House leader from Miami Beach, also responded to Gov. Charlie Crist's State of the State address. In his 10-minute speech, Gelber said he appreciated Cristâ€™s attempts to "break the logjam of partisianship that defined the Jeb Bush era."
He referenced the foreclosure problems in the state, the ongoing problems with property taxes and property insurance, and the stateâ€™s dismal record on education.
Gelber said that Floridaâ€™s colleges are "bursting at the seams with new enrollment" and Republican proposals to balance the budget on the backs of higher education are "unbelievably short sighted.â€
On health care, Gelber mentioned the Medicaid pilot projects introduced in South Florida, and their lack of success.
Democrats are offering a number of possible tax hikes this year, including a $1-a-pack boost in the state's cigarette tax to finance health-care programs, overhauls to existing real estate and corporate taxes designed to eliminate loopholes, and proposals to close some of the $35-billion worth of sales-tax exemptions now on the books. But the Orlando Sentinel reported today, those are all considered long shots.