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We Need More State Legislators Like Florida’s Don Gaetz

Don Gaetz

Florida State Senator Don Gaetz just concluded his final Session as President of the Florida State Senate. At this stage in their careers most “politicians” with State Senator Gaetz’s many years in office would be working to establish a “legacy,” perhaps by naming an office building or park after themselves.

But Don Gaetz is no mere politician.

Gaetz, a Republican from Niceville in Florida’s Panhandle, spent his final Session as President of the Florida State Senate fighting for the interests of Florida’s hard pressed taxpayers, and for the rule of law, in opposition to a political giveaway to illegal aliens.

It took pressure from Gov. Rick Scott and former Florida Governors Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez to overcome Gaetz’s opposition and induce the Legislature passed a bill that will allow high school graduates who are in the US illegally to pay in-state college tuition.

Gaetz was adamantly opposed to the legislation and fought to prevent it from reaching the Senate floor for a vote. It took Scott, Martinez, Bush and pressure from the same business interests that also support amnesty for illegal aliens to gather a two-thirds majority vote in the Florida Senate to waive Senate rules and force the bill to the State Senate floor.

“We had members of the Republican party using entitlements to buy votes,” Senator Gaetz’s son, Florida State Rep. Matt Gaetz, said. “Some Republicans were trying to out-entitle the Democrats.”

“It was just a very deep difference of opinion,” Senator Gaetz said.

Gaetz told reporter Tom McLaughlin of that each student taking advantage of the tuition break, which he correctly calls a “subsidy,” would cost taxpayers $15,000 annually.

“This legislation will cost $49 million a year if not one additional illegal immigrant comes to Florida or takes advantage of college tuition in this state,” Senator Gaetz observed.

Tom McLaughlin reported that Senator Gaetz said he listened to the emotional stories of students who would benefit from the tuition break, but he could not stomach giving the same subsidized in-state tuition to illegal aliens that lawmakers had just voted to provide to all veterans enrolling in Florida.

“I just can’t equate the services and sacrifices of veterans with the arguments, however emotional, of those here illegally,” Gaetz concluded.

Florida State Senate President Don Gaetz is the kind of leader we need in every state legislature; he held fast to his principles, took on a Governor from his own Party and Jeb Bush, the state’s most high profile establishment Republican politician, and didn’t cave.

In his new book TAKEOVER, CHQ Chairman Richard Viguerie set a goal of electing 300 new conservative boat rockers to America’s state legislatures as part of the strategy for conservatives to take over the Republican Party and govern America according to conservative principles by 2017.

On Tuesday limited government constitutional conservatives won a number of Republican primaries for seats in the North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana state legislatures, including defeating at least two establishment Republican incumbents.

Recruiting more candidates with the commitment to conservative principles that Florida State Senate President Don Gaetz displayed this Session would be a good way to keep that streak going.

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