Sunday, May 08, 2005

It's a weird night...

... because I'm about to praise Republicans for the second time in a single night (see the next post down for the other). I think that's more than in the last several weeks combined!

This time it's Florida's Senate Republicans who get the accolades for thwarting Jeb's ambitious agenda to expand vouchers and remove limits on class size. Via the NYT:

...[T]his week, Mr. Bush suffered some of the sharpest losses of his tenure - at the hands of his own Republican party.

On Thursday, the State Senate rejected the governor's proposal to ask voters to scale back the class-size limits they approved in 2002, which he has said would cost taxpayers billions of dollars. It also killed his plan to expand the voucher program, which would have allowed struggling readers to transfer to private and religious schools.

That afternoon, Mr. Bush, who usually sticks to the hushed executive wing of the State Capitol, waded into the circus atmosphere of the rotunda between the House and Senate chambers to lobby for his dying agenda.

...Seven Republicans in the Senate helped Democrats kill Mr. Bush's plan to scale back the class-size requirement, for which the Legislature has already spent more than $1 billion. The Senate did not vote on the voucher proposal, stripping it from another education bill. Some senators said they did not want to expand the voucher program before the Florida Supreme Court ruled on it.

"It's almost like daring the Supreme Court to find it unconstitutional," said Senator James E. King Jr., a Republican from Jacksonville.

Wow. How will these defeats play with the electorate in '08. Jeb's brother ran a campaign focused on his successes with the Texas Lege; Jeb won't be able to do the same. Oh yeah, I know he says he's not running. Call me cynical, but I just don't buy it.

I've gotta hand it to the Senate Republicans here: They stood up to the Governor and stopped some very bad policies from moving forward.

Update: More from the Miami Herald today, too:

After a six-year reign as arguably the most powerful governor in state history, Jeb Bush met mortality last week at the hands of his fellow Republicans.

[I]n the unkindest cut of all, they struck at the heart of the self-styled education governor's political legacy: They rejected his call to ask voters to repeal caps on classroom sizes and refused to expand school vouchers.

For a governor who has accrued unparalleled power in Florida and fashioned a national profile as a GOP leader on education and healthcare, it was an abrupt snap to an unprecedented winning streak.

...The class cap rebuff was the strongest sign yet that as Bush closes out his next-to-last year in office, his influence is beginning to wane as legislators who have eagerly granted him unrivaled authority assert their independence.


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