Perry, Morey have contrasting priorities


Andrew Morey, left, and Keith Perry participate in the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum on Sept. 29 at theTrinity United Methodist Church Youth Building.

Elizabeth Hamilton/Correspondent
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 7:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 7:11 p.m.

Incumbent state Rep. Keith Perry and hopeful Andrew Morey have some differing priorities on key issues such as education, water and job growth in their quest for the state House District 21 seat.

Facts

CANDIDATES BIOS

Keith Perry
Age: 53
Political party: Republican
Occupation: Roofing contractor
Political experience: One term in state House
Family: wife Amy and two daughters
Residence: Gainesville

Andrew Morey
Age: 30
Political party: Democrat
Occupation: Attorney
Political experience: First campaign
Family: wife Jessica and two daughters
Residence: Gainesville

Perry, R-Gainesville, said his experience and his political party will give him better standing in the Republican-dominated House and he cites his work on legislation to improve job growth and his work to reduce the costs of energy production and Medicare as helping the district.

“I am certainly a conservative, but you have to be able to work with other people. I've tried the past two years to get out of my little bubble, my sphere of friends. But the reality is, we almost have to have a Republican from our area if we are going to have representation,” Perry said. “We've got to look at the things we can do to get businesses back, to expand and to attract new businesses.”

Morey, D-Gainesville, is making his first run for political office and is both speaking about his goals and criticizing part of Perry's voting record. While Perry said job growth is his top priority, Morey said education is his.

“The Legislature, including my opponent, voted for what I think is the largest budget cut to education in Florida's history in 2011 — in excess of $1 billion. Full funding was not restored the next year,” said Morey, an attorney. “When you look at different rankings, (Florida is) 42nd, 45th (in the country). We get D's and F's. Then you have (state law) saying that it is up to Tallahassee to provide high-quality schools. Correcting that disconnect is my first priority.”

Both Perry and Morey are unfamiliar faces in broad swaths of District 21.

Perry has served one term in the House for what was then District 23. But all the political boundaries were redrawn this year with the latest U.S. Census counts. Gone from the district are chunks of Levy and Marion counties, in are chunks of Gilchrist and Dixie.

Perry said dwindling state revenue because of the sluggish economy had led to tough decisions on cuts on programs and services in the past two years.

Budget shortfalls of $3.8 billion in 2011 and a $2 billion in 2012 had to be dealt with, Perry said, including cuts to education and to the state's water management districts.

Perry said that reducing unemployment will go a long way to solving the budget situation — more people working and spending money means more tax revenue.

Changing certain regulations and reducing the cost of energy can make the state more attractive to new business, he said. Perry said he supports drilling for natural gas off Florida's shores as one way to accomplish that.

“Our No. 1 goal has to be economic growth and we cannot lose sight of that,” Perry said. “We have one of the biggest natural gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico that has been off limits by the federal government that we need to relook at in allowing that to be explored and safely extracted.”

Perry said he plans to reintroduce a bill that he floated last year on Medicaid reform. He said Medicaid patients are treated like second-class citizens yet it costs a lot of tax money to run the program.

He is proposing a pilot program in which Medicaid patients in several counties would get an insurance policy coverage similar to that offered by many private employers.

Morey at campaign stops has been contrasting his stance on issues and priorities with Perry's voting record from the past two years, saying that he would not have voted to cut money for schools and the water management districts.

In addition to making K-12 education a priority, Morey said he will work toward better funding for UF and Santa Fe College.

Another priority, Morey said, would be a robust water management system to protect the state and region's water quality and quantity.

“I feel that UF is an economic driver in our community as is Santa Fe and Shands, and the treatment they receive from Tallahassee is not what it should be,” Morey said. “In 2011, there was a massive budget cut to the water management districts which had the effect moving control of water decision-making toward Tallahassee.”

Morey said he would not favor any additional tax cuts and would favor closing some tax exemptions, saying that are favoring special interests and big corporations at the expense of schools and UF.

Morey added that he feels he is running not only against Perry but against the special interest groups that have contributed to Perry's campaign.

Perry had contributions totaling $164,597. Morey had $88,655 in contributions. The complete list of contributions can be found at http://election.dos.state.fl.us.

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