Rhee is Possible Education Commissioner for Florida’s Scott

By: - December 3, 2010 12:00 am

Michelle Rhee , the controversial former schools chief in Washington, D.C., already is a member of Governor-elect Rick Scott ‘s education transition team. She may be headed for a permanent post, the Miami Herald reports . A spokesman for Scott told the Herald that the new governor “definitely wants her to stick around.” For several weeks, there have been rumblings that Rhee could be Scott’s education commissioner, but it’s not clear whether she is interested. To get the job, Rhee would have to win a favorable vote from the State Board of Education. Scott, though, will get to appoint three of the seven members of the Board, giving him a strong chance to get his nominee ratified. In Washington, Rhee became famous for battling with unionized teachers, though the two sides did eventually reach a deal on a new long-term contract. In Florida, the debate has been similar, with outgoing Governor Charlie Crist vetoing legislation that would have evaluated teachers largely on the basis of student test scores. Scott, a Republican, is a supporter of that concept and other competition-based reform ideas.

While his cabinet selections remain a few weeks away, Colorado Governor-elect John Hickenlooper , a Democrat, is making clear what sorts of people he’ll be picking. What he wants is managerial experience. What he doesn’t want is people with political backgrounds. “We took a leap of faith and said we’re not going to have anybody like that,” Hickenlooper said , according to the Pueblo Chieftain .

New York has the nation’s most expensive Medicaid program and, perhaps not coincidentally, some of the nation’s most dogged interests fighting to preserve Medicaid funding. It’s with this in mind that Andrew Cuomo , New York’s incoming governor, is trying to diffuse a conflict over health care spending before his term starts. The Wall Street Journal reports that Cuomo has been engaged in behind-the-scenes budget talks with a key union leader, George Gresham , the president of 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East. An alliance between 1199 and the Greater New York Hospital Association has proved formidable in fighting Medicaid cuts in the past. In particular, the groups often are credited with politically wounding former Governor Eliot Spitzer with a barrage of TV ads criticizing his health care plans. Cuomo appears to be trying to avoid that fate, while still finding ways to cut Medicaid as part of a budget that will need to close a shortfall of perhaps billion. One topic of discussion in the talks, the Journal reports, is a reduction in cuts to home health-care services.

A longtime local government official is Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam ‘s pick for chief of staff, the Chattanoogan reports . Claude Ramsey has been mayor of Hamilton County, Tennessee-where Chattanooga is located-since 1994, and prior to that was the county’s property assessor. Haslam has been a mayor too, leading Knoxville for the last seven years. The choice is somewhat unusual: Many new governors are opting for longtime personal staffers as their chiefs, but Ramsey is an outsider. 


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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.