Dave Dunwoody: "You had your first “Open Gaetz Day” last month in Santa Rosa County, and the next – for Escambia County – is set for next month."
Representative Matt Gaetz: "We got the reaction from constituents that was enthusiastic both for and against; kind of what’ going on in Washington right now under President Trump’s leadership. And I am so encouraged that anytime a citizen is willing to take their time and come and share views about the environment, education, healthcare, military, veterans – And we got a little bit of all of that. I’m going to keep hosting “Open Gaetz Days” in every corner of District-1."
DD: "The House is set to vote on the Obamacare replacement bill on Thursday. Talk a bit about the bill and what you see in it."
MG: "The bill is getting better every hour. To make this legislation better, there needs to be work requirements for every able-bodied childless adult. There needs to be an end to Medicaid expansion. Some of those states have one in every three of their citizens on Medicaid. Florida’s been more responsible with one of every six. We also need to make sure that we’ve got a tax credit system that really works for people, and is going to create a competitive marketplace to drive down costs."
DD: "I understand you’ve also sent out a questionnaire, on whether or not to abolish the U.S. Department of Education."
MG: "I’d like to get rid of every one of those employees and turn that office into a parking lot here in Washington. There are thousands of people who have worked at the Department of Education who don’t see a single child; don’t provide support to a teacher or an administrator, and in large part what those people do is they create more paperwork. They create more testing requirements. That puts downward pressure on states and school districts, and ultimately teachers. I believe that education is a core function of the states; not the federal government."
DD: "But shouldn’t there be some national oversight so a kid who goes to school in Florida will meet the same nationwide standards if he or she wants to go to college outside Florida?"
MG: "What we already see is that states align their standards to admissions criteria at major universities. And major universities have normalized a lot of their admissions and criteria. That has largely occurred without the federal government being involved."
DD: "There’s talk now about another round of BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] in the next couple of years. What are you hearing as a member of the House Armed Services Committee?"
MG: "I expect a BRAC to occur during Donald Trump’s presidency. The vice-chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently made a presentation to the Armed Services Committee, where they indicated a BRAC would help save money for the military, and they would very much wanted a BRAC. I think that we should be preparing right now to win BRAC, and to attract mission to northwest Florida, having even more military contributing to our economy and to the nation’s defense."
DD: "Finally, you’re also pushing for the re-opening of Navarre Pass, which opened in 1965, but was closed down by a hurricane two months later."
MG: "If the Navarre Pass were re-opened, Santa Rosa County would be one of the richest counties in Florida. We would see almost immediately a billion dollars in investment in and around south Santa Rosa County. We’re working on legislation that would authorize the Navarre Pass, and then over time we would have to develop joint ventures with our state and local governments on maintenance and funding. It will be a long journey, it’s been a long journey for those fighting for Navarre Pass, but it’s something I really believe in as an innovative development strategy."