Where Bush, MacKay stand
A look at issues in the race for governor.
Compiled by Times staff writers Peter Wallsten and Adam C. Smith
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 18, 1998
n a time of rapid change in Florida, we offer a reference guide to the facts and figures behind the state issues that Buddy MacKay and Jeb Bush will talk about in their debate. Paired with it is an overview of where the candidates stand on the issues, to help debate viewers determine whether their answers are consistent with stands they have taken before.
BUSH: Wants to impose standardized tests for every grade, then use the scores and other factors to grade each public school on an A-F scale. The schools that earn an A or improve a grade level would get extra money to spend at their discretion. For schools that earn an F, the state would "reconstitute" the administration and give parents taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers for private schools.
MACKAY: Wants to increase education funding by at least $1.3-billion, to 40 percent of the state budget. MacKay wants to ensure that money raised by the Florida Lottery enhances education funding rather than replaces it. He has emphasized reducing class size, improving teachers' training and restoring discipline in schools.
BUSH: Supports limiting consumers' lawsuits against businesses and the jury awards consumers can win. He would have signed a lawsuit-limit bill that passed the Republican-controlled Legislature this year, which Gov. Lawton Chiles vetoed. Bush has been endorsed by business groups largely for his stand on this issue.
MACKAY: Supports some reforms in the civil justice system, but would veto any bill as sweeping as the one Chiles vetoed. MacKay has been endorsed by the Florida Consumer Action Network, which vehemently opposed the legislation.
BUSH: Opposes abortion rights unless the life of the mother is in danger.
MACKAY: Supports abortion rights, and promises to veto abortion restrictions, as Chiles has.
BUSH: Does not support raising taxes, but has not made any promises. As commerce secretary under Republican Gov. Bob Martinez, Bush publicly supported the $1-billion services tax, but Bush now says he privately counseled Martinez against it.
MACKAY: Pledges that he will not raise taxes in his first four years as governor. In Congress he was a deficit hawk, often opposing big spending projects. But MacKay has supported some tax increases during his years in the Legislature, Congress and as lieutenant governor.
BUSH: Opposes a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow counties to require waiting periods and criminal background checks on buyers at gun shows, but suggests he might support closing the loophole through legislation. Bush has proposed copying a new California law imposing minimum, mandatory sentences for criminals who use guns. A convict would get 10 years if he possesses a gun during the crime, 20 years if he shoots it, and up to life in prison if the gun causes bodily injury.
MACKAY: Supports the constitutional amendment allowing counties to require criminal background checks and waiting periods for buyers at gun shows. MacKay has criticized Bush's 10/20/life plan because it does not regulate who can own a gun.
BUSH: Says he opposes "mandatory" sectarian prayer in public schools, although such prayer has been prohibited by the U.S. Supreme Court since the 1960s. Bush refuses to say whether he would have signed a 1996 bill passed by the Legislature that allowed organized, student-led prayer at optional events such as football games and graduation ceremonies. Chiles vetoed the bill.
MACKAY: Opposes organized school prayer and supported Chiles' veto of the 1996 bill that would have permitted organized, student-led prayer at optional events such as graduation ceremonies and football games.
BUSH: Supports extending the popular conservation program, Preservation 2000. Supports "property rights" legislation that some environmentalists say could make it much more expensive and difficult to buy property for preservation and to clean up the Everglades.
MACKAY: Supports extending Preservation 2000 and says he would be "Florida's environmental governor." He wants to beef up enforcement of state environmental regulations and says he would remain a staunch advocate for cleaning up the Everglades. MacKay also opposes property rights legislation. In the state Legislature and Congress, MacKay was a vocal supporter of strengthening growth management laws and in killing the Cross Florida Barge Canal, but some environmentalists criticized his role in restructuring state environmental agencies during the Chiles administration.
BUSH: Says he opposes quotas, set-asides and "preferences that lower standards for one group of people over another." When asked whether he supports the idea of affirmative action, to lend a helping hand to people whose race or gender puts them at a disadvantage, Bush is careful not to answer simply "yes" or "no." Supports some programs to help minority enterprises win state contracts.
MACKAY: Unequivocally supports affirmative action programs to help minorities and women get an education and succeed in the job market, and supports programs to help minority enterprises win a share of state contracts.
BUSH: Has a detailed plan to rebuild Florida's inner-cities, using a combination of government activism and business and education incentives. He would appoint an urban coordinator in the governor's office to direct state and federal grants, and would create 20 "front porch communities." He also would create a program to give college scholarships to students at urban high schools who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class.
MACKAY: Has a detailed plan for revitalizing Florida's urban cores, including creating an "urban extension service" through Florida A & M University to help inner-city business development. Would also expand existing programs, such as affordable housing, the Black Business Investment Fund and a "micro-loan" program for small businesses.
BUSH: Supports modest tinkering of existing programs, such as expanding HMO grievance panels to include a doctor and a consumer.
MACKAY: Proposes an updated "Patients' Bill of Rights" aimed at helping consumers deal with arbitrary or unfair HMO decisions. Unlike Bush, the plan would allow consumers to sue HMOs, for instance, and it would mandate that consumers willing to pay more could choose their own doctor.
BUSH: Wants to increase the reach of the state's Department of Elder Affairs, which was created in 1991, by consolidating the state programs that deal with aging issues under one roof. Currently, some nursing home investigations and abuse issues are handled by other agencies. Bush talks of increasing the percentage of state spending on home care versus nursing home care for frail elderly, and wants to eliminate the 13,000-person waiting list for a program called Community Care for the Elderly. He also wants to increase incentives for people to buy long-term care insurance and expand education programs for physicians and consumers on end-of-life issues.
MACKAY: Talks of building on the successes achieved during the Chiles-MacKay administration and continuing the fight to keep seniors out of nursing homes and instead remain in their own homes. He is generally supportive of the Department of Elder Affairs, but proposes a "long-term care kitchen cabinet" to promote better coordination among state agencies dealing with elder issues.
Campaign finance reform
BUSH: Favors ending public campaign financing. Says he is willing to discussreforms, such as limiting soft money contributions to political parties, but only if public financing is ended.
MACKAY: Wants to close the "soft money loophole" that allows individuals and corporations to give unlimited contributions to political parties.
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