BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
One more term? State Sen. Mike Fasano seeks to rein in Medicaid costs and block phone rate increases; his opponent, Steve Mattingly, would push for the concerns of small-business owners.
State Sen. Mike Fasano has spent the past decade walking the halls of the state Capitol. His opponent, Steve Mattingly, has spent the past year walking the U.S. 19 corridor.
Both say their travels have equipped them for the state Senate seat in District 11, which covers parts of western Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties and the northern tip of Pinellas.
Fasano, a Republican, served eight years in the state House of Representatives before getting elected to the Senate two years ago. He pushed to update the state funding formula for schools, which helped fast-growing areas such as Pasco, and he passed legislation creating an ombudsman to help homeowners struck by sinkholes.
He said one of his top priorities is reining in the state's ballooning Medicaid costs. Fasano wants to pass a bill allowing more Medicaid patients to get home health care instead of staying at costlier nursing homes.
"I believe in the long run we'll save a lot of money - taxpayers' dollars - and give our seniors a better quality of life," Fasano said.
If the issue hasn't been settled in the courts, Fasano plans to propose a bill blocking the local phone companies from raising their rates. The Legislature approved a measure in 2003 allowing the companies to seek significantly higher rates, although Fasano voted against it.
"The day that phone increase comes on, my phone will ring off the hook," Fasano said. "I hope to prevent that day from happening."
Mattingly, a retired auto worker and Democrat making his second Senate run, said he has walked up and down the U.S. 19 corridor to chat with business owners, working families and retirees about their issues.
Rising health insurance premiums are forcing some small businesses to cancel their employees' coverage, he said. Local and state agencies keep piling new regulations on businesses struggling to survive, he said.
If elected, Mattingly said he would meet with local businesses, then sit down with the respective county commissions to seek solutions to the problems.
"It's time for somebody to stand up and speak up for the small-business people in our community," Mattingly said.
Mattingly said he would propose a bill allowing people to leave work at 2 p.m. on election day so they can get to the polls. He also wants to give teachers the ability to ban disruptive students from their classrooms, and require high school students to take a class in psychology, logic or life skills.
"They can't even get out of high school right now and fill out a resume to get a half-decent job," Mattingly said.
State Senate District 11 runs from northern Pinellas County through western Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. Senators are elected to four-year terms and paid $29,916 a year.
MIKE FASANO, 46, was elected to the state Senate in 2002 after spending eight years in the state House of Representatives. He is associate vice president for investments for Morgan Stanley in Port Richey, where he has worked the past 15 years. A native of New York, he now lives in New Port Richey. He previously worked as a sales representative for the Florida Lottery and newspaper carrier for Times Publishing Co. He sits on the Heart Ball Planning Committee for the American Heart Association chapter in Hudson. He also sits on the boards of the Area Agency on the Aging and AFIRE/Life Skills of Pasco. Fasano briefly was House majority leader from 2000 to 2001 until he gave up the No. 2 position after a dispute with House Speaker Tom Feeney. He is single. ASSETS: home, car, stock holdings, savings, life insurance. LIABILITIES: mortgage, loans. SOURCES OF INCOME: state salary, Morgan Stanley salary.
STEVE MATTINGLY, 59, is making his second Senate bid. He's a retired auto worker who worked for Ford Motor Co. for 30 years. He is a board member for the Florida West Coast Council of Retired UAW Workers, based in New Port Richey. He has volunteered as a tax aide for the AARP and serves as president of the AARP chapter in Spring Hill. He also belongs to VFW Post 8681 in Shady Hills and to the Spring Hill Moose Lodge 521. A native of Louisville, Ky., he moved to Florida in 1994, and to Spring Hill in 1996 before moving to his current residence on the Pasco side of the Hernando County border in March 2001. ASSETS: home and vehicles. LIABILITIES: car loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: pension.