The state House minority leader faults Republicans for slashing taxes while raising aid to schools a modest 4 percent per student.
By TIM NICKENS
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 9, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- House Minority Leader Lois Frankel contended Tuesday that the state budget crafted by the GOP-led Legislature emphasized tax cuts at the expense of education and broadly hinted that she is preparing to run for governor.
"I'm getting ready to go," the West Palm Beach Democrat told the St. Petersburg Times editorial board. "I'm so disgusted with the Legislature. I am not sitting back and waiting for somebody else."
Frankel is expected to make a decision on entering the race for the Democratic nomination before a major party fundraiser June 23 in Miami Beach. The Democratic nominee likely will face incumbent Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who will announce his re-election plans next month.
Among the other potential Democratic candidates: U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa; state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami; Bill McBride, managing partner of the Tampa-based Holland and Knight law firm; Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox; and Pete Peterson, the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam and former member of Congress.
U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has ruled out running for governor. Attorney General Bob Butterworth said this week he has "pretty much" decided he will not run.
While Peterson has not indicated how serious he is about running for governor, his supporters are excited. A new Web site that describes Peterson's background has been established by supporters who describe themselves as Democrats, Republicans and independent voters (www.petepeterson.org).
Frankel criticized Republicans for insisting on at least $225-million in tax breaks in a year when education spending will rise a modest 4 percent per student. Critics contend that after accounting for inflation and new students, counties such as Pinellas will have to cut spending and raise property taxes.
"The priorities are screwed up right now," Frankel said. "I'm so tired of making excuses. I am not going to make excuses anymore."