The Palm Beach County Tea Party and South Florida 912 had an event tonight with candidates for State Senate at the Boca Greens clubhouse. It was very well attended, perhaps 200 people.
The Senate candidates relevant to West Boca Raton are Republicans Geoffrey Sommers and Melanie Peterson. There is also a Democrat running but he is not expected at this Tea Party event. Also present is Mike Lameyer, whose district is east of the Turnpike but doesn’t include West Boca.
Regarding Gov. Scott’s plan on Obamacare and Medicaid, what would you do?
Melanie Peterson: I will stand with Gov. Scott. This is the best decision for Florida.
Mike Lameyer: Agree with Gov. Taxpayers would have to come up with $1.2B.
Geoff Sommers: With Gov. Scott. This would expand Medicaid rolls a lot. Favors private markets for health insurance.
Q2: Increase pension contribution and reduce other pension benefits? What would you do?
Lameyer: Govt employees should pay for their own retirement. State pension system is broke. Use 401k retirement plans.
Sommers: Private accounts the only way. Government workers should not get more than private sector workers. FL should remain a right to work state.
Peterson: Last year $300M into state pension, a big chunk to fix the gap. Have to have a conversation with state workers. They have to sacrifice too. Current system punishes self employed and small business owners.
Q3: Privatization of FL prison system?
Sommers: Privatize whatever can be done better by private sector.
Peterson: Crime at an all time low. Supports Gov. 100%.
Lameyer: Privatize wherever possible. Send officers back out on patrol.
Q4: State tax credits to green energy companies?
Peterson: Don’t like singling out a single industry. We need tax relief for everyone.
Lameyer: Supports free market development of energy resources.
Sommers: Oppose crony capitalism. Quoted from Peterson’s website where she supported tax breaks for windmills. Sommers claimed it would benefit a friend of Peterson.
Peterson denied this was a government break, and claimed this was a good project for us.
Lameyer: Supports voucher program. That’s what creates competition.
Sommers: Hold schools accountable. Support school choice and charter schools where necessary.
Peterson: Education system is broken. Charter schools are doing well because privately run. Criticized FCAT and suggested privatizing Dept of Education.
(Big audience response in favor of Peterson on this)
Q6: Expand casino gambling?
Lameyer: I don’t gamble. If a community wants gambling we have to respect that. But claims casinos increase crime, drug abuse and more. And that every casino job causes loss of 1.2 jobs.
Peterson: If constituents want it have to respect it. But would try to educate voters about the balance and associated crime.
Sommers: Same view as the others. Expand gambling in a moderate way through existing licenses.
Sommers: Thumbs up. We have to work with federal government on immigration issues.
Peterson: Opposed to mandate from state. Should not be a state level decision. Hurts FL businesses competitively with other states. Guest worker program with closed borders. Opposes state benefits to illegals.
(This was a great answer to an audience that was initially dubious but she won them over.)
Lameyer: Used e-verify in his company. Supports it emphatically. Pointed to food stamps for non-citizens.
(Audience loved his answer).
Q8: Eliminate corporate income tax and all targeted tax breaks. (Americans for Prosperity pledge) You?
Sommers: I have signed that pledge and support it.
Lameyer: Support it. Let’s get some of these foreign car plants in FL.
Peterson: Gov. Scott on right track. Supports Amendment 4.
Q9: Veto of $143M in local project spending. Was he right?
Sommers: Criticized Abruzzo for bragging about bacon.
Q10: Citizens Insurance
Sommers: Depopulate Citizens – bring competition back in.
Lameyer: Bad idea then. Worse now. Bring other insurers back in.
Peterson: Reduce size of Citizens. Spoke at a technical level, about population density vs risk mitigation, rate modeling, undercapitalized, and more. Seemed more knowledgeable but audience eyes glazed over a bit.