Although Florida has a Republican Governor, and the GOP controls both houses of the state legislature, state lawmakers appear destined to fail to pass a state budget when the legislative session ends on Friday. Republicans are proving themselves incapable of passing a simple budget resolution. In-party bickering over Medicaid expansion has derailed budget talks and all but guaranteed that no resolution will be reached any time soon.
The pragmatic Republican-controlled Florida State Senate wants to accept federal Medicaid funding to extend health care to more than 800,000 uninsured low-income Floridians. However, the more dogmatic GOP-controlled House and Republican Tea Party Governor Rick Scott are opposed to the plan, creating a budget impasse between the warring factions.
Florida voters are bearing the consequences of one-party rule under a party that is increasingly divided between traditional conservatives who still believe in governing, and hardcore ideologues who are more interested in appeasing anti-Obama Tea Party constituents in deep red House districts.
The anti-Obama nihilism of the House faction, aided and abetted by Governor Rick Scott, threatens to deny 800,000 Floridians affordable health care. In addition, the intransigence of right-wing lawmakers has also sent the entire budget process spiraling into chaos, with no resolution in sight.
In the current polarized political environment, it is easy for lawmakers to win election by appealing to conservatives with anti-government rhetoric. However, in practice those same lawmakers, once elected, ironically prove their point by demonstrating that they are incapable of governing. While their incompetence may further fuel anti-government ideology, it should come at the cost of creating a backlash against the elected officials spouting the rhetoric now that they are the government.
Whether Florida voters will wise up and throw Republican lawmakers out in 2016 remains to be seen. However, it has become clear that although the Florida Republican Party has one-party control of the state government, they are simply unable and unwilling to govern.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.