PAULA HOUSE, Democrat
BIRTHPLACE: Tuscola, Ill.
FAMILY: Widow; two sons, ages 33 and 36, one grandson, age 1.
EDUCATION: B.S., Communications, University of Illinois; teacher certification, University of South Maine; J.D., University of Maine School of Law; certification in mediation, University of Maine and University of South Florida.
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Public school teacher, administrator 1978-1985; public prosecutor, 1987-1989; private law practice 1989-current, managing my own business for more than 20 years. Admitted to practice law before the U.S Supreme Court, 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, State Courts of Maine and Florida; certified Florida mediator.
FUN FACT: Former church organist and avid equestrian.
What is your position on Citizens Property Insurance Co.? What role should the state play in insuring private property?
I support public options for those affected by global warming and extreme weather events. A larger picture needs to be developed by the state in terms of how to respond, perhaps including mechanisms for restitution where rebuilding (and new building) should not occur because of environmental concerns and high risk.
The state needs to formulate an approach to the dislocations that are likely to occur because of weather extremes and should provide support so that impacts will be minimized on individuals and the Florida economy.
What is your position on the state of Florida regulating property insurance rate increases and pricing?
It is the proper role of the state to regulate commerce based on needs and circumstances within the state.
Why should the state control property insurance rates when we know that this policy has restricted competition and limited the number of companies willing to sell property insurance here?
It will keep property insurance rates down.
What is your position on: 1) School choice and school vouchers? 2) Teacher tenure — in K-12 and the college level?
I am against using taxpayer money to start and fund private (including religious) schools.
The state should not interfere in contracted rights between teachers and employers.
What, in your view, is the proper role of state government in public education?
The state has a role to insure that funding structures are in place, to set standards and policies, but not micro-manage. Local school districts should have input into standards and policies, especially when those standards and policies may be coming from out-of-state organizations with agendas of their own that are in conflict with the requirement in Florida to provide quality public education under the Florida Constitution. I am referring to the American Legislative Exchange Council and other out-of-state and well-organized influences.
What is your position on the FCATs?
The test is being misused and changing education in a bad way.
What is your position on the state providing corporate welfare to companies that either expand or move to Florida? How and why are these subsidies morally acceptable?
I am against “trickle up” — that is use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize private business, with some exceptions. There are some circumstances where subsidies or investments may be justified, such as where long-term growth of industries impacting the public welfare are affected or where safeguards of public investments through partial public ownership and good return may occur.
If elected, will you take the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to increase taxes if you are elected or re-elected? If not, why not?
No. I don’t believe in advance pledges. Florida has a very regressive tax system based primarily on consumption and use taxes that disproportionately hurts the poor and middle class. Florida needs a more predictable and sustainable revenue stream.
Medicaid costs are increasing at almost double-digit annual rates. How do you think Florida should handle the growth in Medicaid?
By fully implementing the Affordable Care Act Medicaid provisions. For modest sums, 1.6 million people who now have no access to health care will have access; another 1.8 million people will qualify for subsidies to obtain health insurance. Florida has no plan or ability to care for these people without the funding from the Affordable Care Act, which will bring $40 billion in health-care dollars into this state.
What will be your top three priorities if elected?
1) Repeal laws and/or drop appeals of laws that have been found to be illegal in Florida and other states, such as voter suppression, women’s ultrasound, drug testing for the poor, teacher contract interference, union contract interference, doctor’s free speech, etc.
2) End the giveaway of public assets to private companies for their profits, including school vouchers (except in some circumstances), prisons, hospitals and Medicaid privatizations;
3) Review the tax structure to find more dependable and consistent revenue streams, including review of the ways certain categories of corporations are not taxed while others may be subsidized unnecessarily.
FILM REVIEW: 'St. Vincent'
In his new film, "St. Vincent," Bill Murray gives an Oscar worthy performance guaranteed to please his ardent fans.
PHOTO GALLERY: Boo Run
More than 1,000 runners turned out this morning for the Lakewood Ranch Running Club's annual Boo Run event on Lakewood Ranch Main Street.
PHOTO GALLERY: Boo Fest
Children dressed in their Halloween best snacked on candy and said "trick-or-treat" for sweet snacks from vendors at Boo Fest, Oct. 24, on Lakewood Ranch Main Street.
PHOTO GALLERY: Art Center Sarasota's Artists at Work
The Sarasota Art Center hosted another installment in their "Artists at Work" celebration with the night's theme being "An Evening in Paris" in anticipation of their French river cruise in October of next year.
26 Welsh Society Annual Picnic
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
26 Key Moments Photo Art Exhibit
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
26 5th Annual Grand Bar-B-Q for InStride
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
26 Music for Harp & Flute