"Defending the American Dream" protesters oppose Florida budget cuts
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03/16/11 Joshua Lee Holton
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

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As the Florida Legislature session opens, many Floridians are fed up with proposals to lay off state employees and cut funding to education as a way to deal with the state’s massive budget shortfall. One week after the statewide Awake the State protests, activists with MoveOn.org rallied around the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Tampa yesterday afternoon.

Governor Scott’s pledge to create jobs is being met with anger and frustration as he threatens to slash support for education. Dozens gathered in front of Senator Bill Nelson’s office to tell him that “enough is enough” when it comes to cutting funding from vital programs. Florida Consumer Action Network’s Tim Heberline helped organize last week’s pro-worker rally, and reiterated his frustration at the “defending the American dream” protest.

"They're giving tax breaks to the top 2 per cent, literally, anyone who's making over a quarter of a million dollars. I don't make that. Apparently those who do are getting some pretty nice tax breaks. I think people are here because they're fed up with it. We can't fund public education but we can fund tax breaks for that."

Amy Murphy is a teacher and is on the board of directors for the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. She is one of 40,000 teachers that could lose jobs due to budget cuts.

"Everything that I do from the beginning of my day, I am a mother, I am a working mom. I take my child to day care. I'm in my classroom working, trying, pushing, being a nurse, being a technician, everything that you can think of, I do it in one day. I hope that they hear a message that we are not little ants that they see from the planes. Once you get so high in the air everybody looks small. You have to remember, when you come back down we're people down here too and we need the respect that we deserve."

Steve Brown is the Tampa council coordinator of MoveOn.org, and helped organize the rally. He thinks that balancing the state budget needs a drastically different approach than that which Governor Scott has proposed.

"What we don't want is for them to balance the budget on the backs of hard working American teachers, firefighters, small business owners and basically the little people. The 98 per cent of us that don't have lobbyists to fight for us in Congress constantly, but there are plenty of things we can be cutting and we can start with defense and tax breaks for large corporations. I'm not talking about mom and pop shops. Again, the $500 break for a new machine of some kind. For a new coffee machine or something, I'm talking about WalMart paying almost no taxes, Bank of America paying almost no taxes or literally no taxes. These are the tax breaks that we really need to be cutting because we don't need to be giving the money to those corporations. They have money. We need to be giving the money to the people that need it to survive."

Jason Smith mobilization coordinator for the west central Florida federation of labor. He is organizing another rally later this month.

"Fight Back Florida is a continuation of Awake the State. We just want to continue to put the pressure on legislators and let them know that we're not going to lay down and take these draconian budget cuts. We want to stand up for all the working people in Florida and make sure that everyone recognizes just what these cuts are going to do to people in real terms as far as job loss. We want to know where the jobs are at. We want to ask Rick Scott and local legislators 'where are the jobs you promised?' "

The Fight Back Florida Rally will take place on March 25, and will continue to challenge proposed budget cuts.

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Comments

MoveOn dot please...

Gimme a break!!! The Florida Dept of Education has a 2011 budget (K - 12) of $18.1 BILLION… and there are about 2.6 million kids enrolled in Florida public schools (K - 12). You do the math… that’s about $7000 per student this year. And where is our state ranked in education… something like 83rd… out of 50??? Defending the American Dream??? BUSHIDO!!! It’s more like Defending the American Nightmare…

Pay up for power

I agree with former NEA General Council Bob Chanin - "it's all about power .... and paying dues". Doubtful to ever be heard on this station............................http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-piPkgAUo0w&feature=player_embedded

jobs?

So far Rick Scott is at a minus 65,000 jobs on his watch. That's 40,000 teachers and 25,000 in construction from bailing out on the High Speed Rail gift from the federal government. And really, with such a bad ranking on education can we afford to lose 40,000 teachers? Is that what Floridians want? These same Floridians who voted to reduce class size? These same Floridians who are telling the GOP run legislature that they are willing to spend money on education in order to improve our standards? Bullcrap. These budget cuts are all about politics and have nothing to do with either practicality or improving the living conditions of Floridians.

Taxes Down. Mood UP!

My house tax went down by $2500! Go, Rick, go!

News Director

To the fake "George Meany" above: The soundbite was indeed played on WMNF this past Tuesday night at 5:15 PM during Grit Radio. The soundbite was from a anti-union TV commercial which Laura Flanders played on her radio program during a discussion about whether the current conservative movement wants to do away with unions.

Real Radioactivity ?

Shocking that even two sentences of his remarks were heard. No discussion of his comments at all. Perhaps the real Rob Lorei will play his full remarks that I found insulting to teachers. A vast majority of teachers are in the profession to teach. Their primary function is not to be paying "hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year" to give the NEA power. Apparently, that is the primary function of NEA. I could be wrong though. Maybe teachers are more interested in the NEA being a political powerhouse to elect candidates and not to further the education of our youth. It could make for an interesting program.