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Other Views from Those in the Know
Mark Ferrulo
Executive Director
Champions of Florida's Middle Class Stand Up to Gov. Scott

It's easy to be cynical about politics these days. Obscene amounts of corporate campaign cash drowns out the voices and concerns of hard working, middle class Floridians. Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders have prioritized special interest tax breaks for their corporate campaign donors and lobbyist friends while our public schools and universities, infrastructure, health care, civil rights, natural lands and waters are all under constant attack.

But there are those legislators who, instead of selling out our state to the highest bidders, decide to stand up and fight back.

That’s why Progress Florida, along with our allies at Florida Watch Action and America Votes, have recognized 27 members of the Florida Legislature as “Champions of Florida’s Middle Class” for their unwavering support on behalf of Florida’s working families. We rated legislators based on nine different bills that reached the floor of one or more chambers during the 2012 legislative session, and those 27 lawmakers who voted the right way 100% of the time were awarded the title “Middle Class Champion.”

Florida's Middle Class Champions fought against the prison privatization scheme, the so-called Parent Trigger bill, attacks on women's health, the Unfair Foreclosure Act, invasive drug testing, gerrymandering, and other ill-conceived, extremist bills. These lawmakers also opposed Gov. Scott’s anti-middle class budget, which continues to dramatically underfund Florida's public schools, cuts hundreds of millions from health care for our children, seniors, and the disabled, and costs thousands of jobs – while creating more than $100 million in new special interest tax giveaways.

These Legislators are champions because they unequivocally stood up for middle class families despite pressure from Gov. Scott, House and Senate leadership, and very powerful special interests like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street bankers, and insurance companies.

Moreover, this year we recognized five more Middle Class Champions than in 2011 as lawmakers increasingly bucked the anti-middle class policies of Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders including Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon. Even members of Gov. Scott’s own party broke ranks in order to oppose the job-killing private prison scheme and insidious Parent Trigger bill.

While Gov. Scott and his extremist allies in the Florida Legislature focused the entire session on giveaways to their special interest campaign contributors, the 2012 “Champions of Middle Class” instead focused on improving the lives of working Floridians. Here they are:

Sen. Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland)
Sen. Arthenia L. Joyner (D-Tampa)
Sen. Nan H. Rich (D-Sunrise)
Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs (D-Delray)
Sen. Christopher L. “Chris” Smith (D-Oakland Park)
Rep. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington)
Rep. Lori Berman (D-Delray Beach)
Rep. Mack Bernard (D-West Palm Beach)
Rep. Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay)
Rep. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth)
Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa)
Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Fort Lauderdale)
Rep. Mia L. Jones (D-Jacksonville)
Rep. Martin "Marty" Kiar (D-Parkland)
Rep. Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg)
Rep. Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach)
Rep. Steven M. “Steve” Perman (D-Boca Raton)
Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando)
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee)
Rep. Franklin Sands (D-Plantation)
Rep. Ron Saunders (D-Tavernier)
Rep. Elaine Schwartz (D-Hollywood)
Rep. Irving "Irv" Slosberg (D-Boca Raton)
Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Miami)
Rep. Dwayne L. Taylor (D-Daytona Beach)
Rep. Perry Thurston, Jr. (D-Fort Lauderdale)
Rep. Barbara Watson (D-Miami Gardens)

As everyday Floridians continue to be under assault by a Governor and legislative leadership beholden to powerful, wealthy interests and their torrent of campaign contributions, we shouldn't forget these legislators who are courageously standing and fighting for us. You can learn more about Florida’s 2012 Middle Class Champions and send them a note of thanks by visiting http://middleclasschamps.com.

Mark Ferrulo is Executive Director of Progress Florida, a state-wide organization dedicated to building a more progressive Florida.

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by Dr. Radut.