Gov. Rick Scott scolded by legislative black caucus

4:39 PM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Arthenia Joyner share a laugh during a meeting Tuesday.
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Tallahassee, Florida - Gov. Rick Scott got an earful Tuesday from members of Florida's Legislative Black Caucus.

Members of the group took Scott to task for making it harder for felons to regain their rights once they finish their sentences.

Lawmakers also said they were extremely disappointed with the governor's record of minority appointments to the judiciary. Rep. Darryl Rouson said of Scott's 91 judicial appointments, only six were African Americans.

On health care, they pushed Scott to stop resisting President Obama's Affordable Care Act now that it's the law of the land. Rep. Mia Jones said the group expects Scott to move forward with the federal health care law because so many Floridians need it.

"Right now the law of the land is the Affordable Care Act. We expect that the state of Florida should be ready to implement the Affordable Care Act with all due diligence."

But Gov. Scott said he doubts the federal government will really come through with all of the money for the program based on past history.

"I've not found a government program that's free. I want to make sure that everybody has access to quality health care, but I haven't found a free government program. What I'm extremely worried about is can the federal government fund their portion of this health care bill."

Scott said he's been asking the federal government for information about starting a health care exchange but has not received any details. He said he can't support an exchange until he knows what it will cost. The governor said expanding Medicaid from the current 3.3 million Floridians to 6.1 million people would likely take money away from education and other state programs.

This was Scott's first formal meeting with the Black Caucus in a year and Sen. Arthenia Joyner chided him for not making himself more available to them.

Joyner: "It's been a whole year and we can't continue to dialogue on a regular basis."

Scott: "I've seen almost everybody in this room."

Joyner: "With the exception of me." (laughs)

Scott: "Do you think that was intentional?"

Joyner: "Yes. I called for a meeting three times and nobody ever got back with me. But I'm going to say what we said last year. You and I will have to deal with that because I respect you."

Scott: "And I respect you."

Joyner: "So we need to be able to talk. We differ on a lot of things and..."

Scott: "You're kidding."

Joyner: "Most."

Scott: "I care about jobs and education and I'm sure you do too."

Joyner: "I absolutely do."

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