What do we know about Chris King? The Phoenix asked, he answered

Chris King

Chris King. Credit: Chris King campaign.

With Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum choosing affordable housing executive Chris King for his running mate this week, the pair has been described as the most progressive Democratic ticket in modern history in Florida.

But what do voters know about King’s views? He was a candidate competing against Gillum in the primary, and now joins him on the Democratic ticket as lieutenant governor nominee.

King has not been a public official with any type of voting record, so his ideas deserve attention.

In that light, the Florida Phoenix is offering an expansive look at King’s views, publishing in full King’s comments from our primary election season questionnaire. The exercise involved three questions on each of the following topics: Environment, education, health care, gambling, LGBTQ issues, affordable housing, women’s issues, and topics of concern to workers and labor unions. (Keep in mind some of King’s verbatim comments reference what he would do as governor; now he on the ticket for lieutenant governor.)

The Phoenix earlier published in full Gillum’s views on all topics, following his win in the Aug. 28 primary. Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis has so far declined to answer the questions. We’ve reached out again to DeSantis, and now, we are asking Republican lieutenant governor nominee Jeanette Nunez to respond as well.

Three questions from Florida Phoenix Editor-in-Chief Julie Hauserman on the environment:

1. What did you like to do outside when you were a kid, and how about now?

I loved playing basketball. I like to say I “retired” after 12th grade. I remember playing basketball with friends from my neighborhood almost every day after school and all day long in the summer. I also loved going fishing with my grandfather. He lived in Sanford and I spent many weekends and summer days with him fishing in the lakes around town. I really grew to appreciate Florida’s beauty and developed a deep appreciation for protecting our state’s environment after that.

2. Would you change the laws so that agriculture is required to clean up its pollution at the source to prevent algae outbreaks in lakes, rivers, springs, and the coasts?

As governor, I would use every tool at my disposal to make sure that Florida’s environment is better protected. After more than twenty years of one-party rule in Florida, the state has, at best, ignored and mismanaged Florida’s environment, and at its worst, permitted certain powerful interests like Big Sugar to essentially write their own rules when it comes to the environment. Florida desperately needs a governor who is not beholden to these special interests and will stand up and fight for what’s right and scientifically proven to be the right thing.

As such, I absolutely will ensure that we regulate and minimize the amount of pollutants from agriculture and all other sources that are flowing into our waterways, particularly Lake Okeechobee, which, recently, has been the source of the toxic algae blooms on our coasts. Big industries, including agriculture, need to understand that not only are their actions causing environmental crises, but the algae blooms are a real threat to public health. We cannot allow Floridians to have their health put at risk and natural surroundings to be destroyed.

3. What would you do to promote cleaner energy sources like solar and wind?

It is pretty crazy that Massachusetts has more solar jobs than Florida. There is incontrovertible scientific proof that human activity is leading to climate change and rising seas. We should do everything in our power to promote cleaner energy sources, as they are one of the best lines of defense that we have to mitigate and hopefully reverse climate change. Unfortunately the Tallahassee political establishment is unable to even utter the words “climate change” and deny that human activity is largely responsible for climate change.

As governor, I would have a comprehensive policy to combat climate change and rising seas and promote clean energy in the state. First, I think it is important to signal our goals and show people in the clean energy world that we mean business. As such, as governor, I would announce Florida’s commitment to comply with the Paris Climate Accord and work to create a 21st century clean energy economy.

Three questions from Florida Phoenix Deputy Editor Diane Rado on the education:

1. Where adults went to school growing up impacts their views on education. In that light, please let us know where you attended public or private K-12 school/schools; what you liked and disliked about your school/schools and if you thought you got a good, bad or mediocre education at your school/schools. Feel free to expound about your school days.

I attended both private and public schools growing up. I attended private schools at a younger age and then moved into the public school system, graduating from Winter Park High School. Both of these environments gave me wonderful experiences that have shaped my life today.

I was lucky to always have teachers who cared for me and pushed me to achieve at the highest levels of my capability. Because of that, I have come to believe that regardless of the type of school, our teachers are our most valuable resource in education, and it is they who make all the difference in the world in the lives of students. I have children attending public school and have continued to be impressed by the quality of their education.

2. The debate over traditional and charter schools continues to grow in Florida, particularly since a Constitutional amendment was placed on the ballot relating to who can and can’t control public schools. Should charter schools continue to grow in Florida and should traditional public schools get more money, particularly for public school teachers whose salaries are very low compared to the national average?

Florida’s public education system is chronically underfunded, from its voluntary pre-kindergarten program to its high schools. We must make sure that our students receive the highest-quality education possible because that is what they deserve and what taxpayers should expect.

I believe that a significant part of the underfunding for our public schools simply reflects a failure of our one-party state government to properly prioritize public education more generally (e.g., versus systematic tax cuts or the funding of private prisons, both of which cost state millions) and relatively (e.g., as opposed to the funding of private schools, especially those that operate for profit).

Public schools are the best investment we can make. We need to do whatever it takes to fully fund our public schools. Charter schools lack the accountability measures that ensure they are operating in a way that is best for our children and school staff. Voucher programs sound good on the surface but strip crucial funding from public schools and every other student who does not qualify for these scholarships. My goal is for public schools to serve every need of every student.

As such, it is a true disservice to our children and society in general that while 90 percent of Florida students attend public schools, 90 percent of the conversation in Tallahassee is focused on everything but public schools –– namely private charters. While some non-profit charter schools are true inspirations, our state leadership has become beholden to the for-profit charter industry, and we cannot continue to support this industry at the expense of our children and our public school system.

It is reprehensible that we are not funding our public schools to the extent that is necessary to support our students. Despite being the third largest state in the union, Florida is a back-of-the-pack state when it comes to the quality of our public schools. We need new leadership in Tallahassee that prioritizes our students’ futures and I’ve rolled out a six-point criminal justice reform plan which calls for using part of the approximately $1 billion in cost savings from reducing mass incarceration for nonviolent offenders by 50 percent over the next decade and legalizing, regulating and taxing recreational marijuana to give our teachers a raise, renovate and build new schools and improve the overall quality of our public education.

I’ve also made free community college and trade school a critical part of my platform. Every Floridian deserves to pursue higher education without taking on a lifetime of debt and so that everyone in our state has the opportunity for good-paying jobs.

3. Few public schools in Florida get D and F grades and even A, B and C grades for public schools do not necessarily reflect a school’s performance. That’s because a key part of grading schools has to do with kids passing state exams. However, the state allows kids to pass when they’re not proficient in key subjects. Do you think Florida should eliminate or change the A through F grading system in order to accurately reflect how schools are doing in the state? Do you believe the state accurately reflects the performance of schools or does the formula just make schools look better than they really are?

I support ending the current grading system and replacing it with a rubric that supports schools, rather than punishing teachers and students.

Over the last 20 years, a small group of lawmakers who are completely removed from classrooms have controlled the education policy-making process without teachers being properly represented. I don’t support the current school grading system.

While a simple system of assigning letter grades to schools is appealing, the fact is that no simple system will ever truly capture the quality of education. Moreover, letter-grade systems encourage schools to simply do those things that will get them the best letter grade possible instead of taking the time and energy to ensure that they are figuring out and doing what’s best for their students.

While we must have some objective standards in place, we must delve deeper into how our schools are serving our students so that we are properly educating our students and developing the next generation of citizens for our state, nation and world.

Three questions from Reporter CD Davidson-Hiers on health care

1. How do you plan to address health insurance coverage for people in Florida who are still not covered?

I believe Medicaid expansion is critical for Florida, and I have made it the cornerstone of my Florida’s Promise healthcare policy.  Medicaid expansion would provide immediate coverage for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Floridians. Studies have shown that when parents have coverage, their children have coverage, so we can promote access to care for children simply by expanding Medicaid.  Expanding Medicaid also will provide mental health services to the thousands of Floridians who need it but cannot get it.

Expanding Medicaid and adopting Florida’s Promise would also improve our state’s budget and economy.  It will save Florida $500,000,000 by reducing state costs for uncompensated care, capturing budget savings, and increasing state revenues.  It would create 71,000 jobs and increase economic activity in the state by $8.9 billion. It can lower costs for people shopping in the Florida Marketplaces, as states that have expanded Medicaid have 7% lower Marketplace premiums than states that have not.

We must end the pointless partisan pettiness that has stopped us from expanding Medicaid.  We can expand Medicaid in a bipartisan way that works for Florida, and I’m willing to work across the aisle to fulfill Florida’s Promise to its citizens, but our policies must help more than they hurt.

Expanding Medicaid, however, is not enough.  My comprehensive Florida’s Promise plan ensures that we are providing affordable healthcare coverage for all Floridians.

We must lower costs for Floridians who buy health insurance on their own.  In a third of Florida counties there is only one insurance company in the Marketplace, and in another third, there are only two.  Floridians in these counties pay more because they don’t benefit from competition between insurance companies.

To increase competition and lower prices for Floridians, I will encourage more insurance companies to enter the Marketplace through “Universal Participation.”  As such, dozens of insurance companies that have Medicaid and Medicare offerings will be encouraged – through both carrots and sticks – to participate in the Florida Marketplaces.

Achieving Universal Participation could cause Floridians in the highest cost counties to pay close to 40 percent less for insurance.  This would cost Florida taxpayers nothing while providing a public-private path to increasing access to affordable health coverage. It also makes sure that private health insurers no longer take advantage of Floridians who have nowhere else to go.

Finally, I have innovative ideas to help Floridians of all walks of life.  We must bring lower cost options to rural Floridians and our military families by expanding access to healthcare providers through telemedicine and rational improvements to our state licensing laws.  We must increase access to low cost prescriptions by creating drug donation programs that collect drugs that go unused, ensure their safe to use, and provide them to patients in need. We must prevent the Trump administration from sabotaging Florida’s Marketplace by allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to consumers with pre-existing conditions by selling healthy people “short-term plans.”  We must help our children by simplifying access to Florida KidCare.

2. What are your plans for controlling healthcare coverage costs incurred by small businesses?

The policies described above will result in significantly lower healthcare costs across the board for Floridians and Florida businesses.

3. Gwen Graham was the only candidate to introduce a public option for healthcare. Based on what you know about that proposal, do you support that?

I believe that my healthcare proposal is both more comprehensive and realistic. They cite vetoed legislation in Nevada as a potential model, but an inherent flaw in that proposal was that there was neither a price tag associated with Medicaid buy-in, nor a means of paying for it. These types of proposals rely heavily on the assumption that the Trump administration will act in good faith to provide financial support and subsidies to defer costs. I simply do not believe they will ultimately hold up their end of the bargain as they are currently working to undermine pre-existing subsidies to sabotage the Obamacare insurance marketplace.

Three questions from Reporter Mitch Perry on gambling:

1. Do you support Amendment 3, which would give voters the exclusive right to authorize expansions of casino gambling in Florida?

I support Amendment 3. I am opposed to expanded gambling on the merits and the types of jobs that it would generate are the exact problem we face in Florida today. We shouldn’t turn Florida into a casino and our state already suffers from a low-wage economy in Florida where half of the jobs pay less than $15 an hour

2. Regarding sports gambling: the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that is now legal, and leaders in neighboring states have said they will advocate for its inclusion. What do you say about this new development?

I don’t believe Florida should be turned into a casino and oppose expanding gambling in the state –– including sports betting. I support letting voters decide on these issues and not politicians

3. Negotiations that would address the state’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe and allow for some expansion of casinos have gone nowhere in the Legislature in recent years. If you’re in charge, where would you stand on this issue?

As mentioned above, I oppose the expansion of gambling and believe the Seminole Tribe should retain their rights.

Three questions from Reporter CD Davidson-Hiers on LGBT issues:

1. Florida currently has no state leave law which permits leave for a same-sex spouse or partner. Do you think that’s an issue? How would you address it?

In addition to the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, I believe it is long past time to recognize that same-sex couples have the same problems and responsibilities as opposite-sex couples and therefore deserve the same rights, benefits and protections under the law.  This includes leave but should also be expanded to every other right and benefit enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Given the universal recognition of same-sex marriage, we cannot perpetuate a second-class status for same-sex couples in other areas of the law. I believe that the governor of Florida has to serve as a strong voice on these issues and that much progress can be made if the governor shows the moral courage to do so.  Of course, I would work tirelessly using all the legal and political levers available to the governor as well.

2. Many local governments in Florida have banned conversion therapy but there is no statewide ban. Should Florida have a statewide ban? If so, how would you support it? If not, why not?

Florida should absolutely have a statewide ban on conversion therapy.  Not only has conversion therapy been completely discredited, but it is also an insult to members of our LGBTQ community that we would even permit conversion therapy to be practiced in the first place. Someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a personal matter and we cannot permit others to think it is their place to impose their will over those of the individual.

3. The Florida Competitive Workforce Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of groups protected against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, but has always died in committee. Do you think the act is important and if so, what would you do to support it?

Passing the Florida Competitive Workforce Act is of utmost importance to me. I would get it passed in the first legislative session I oversee as governor. It is simply unconscionable that we have not passed it already, as we are treating a large number of Floridians as second-class citizens.  I believe we have a legislature that is ready to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act but that we need a governor who is willing to go to bat for the LGBTQ community and speak truth to the moral outrage that it has not already happened. I will be that governor.

Three questions from Reporter Mitch Perry on affordable housing:

1. There is a shortfall of affordable housing in Florida. If funds were available, what would you specifically do with those dollars?

I’ve gone all over this state talking about Florida’s affordable housing crisis –– and as a result, I believe this campaign has raised attention to the state’s habit of raiding the Sadowski Trust and brought the other candidates to our position. The Florida Legislature has raided over $2 billion from the trust and simply by winning the governor’s race, I will be able to use the power of my line-item veto pen to protect the $1 billion in public and private dollars that make up the trust. We must begin using immediately the affordable housing trust funds for their intended purpose and reap the benefits of leveraging these funds with private enterprise.

2. Should there be more incentives for developers to create affordable housing? If so, what kind?

It is critical that we incentivize developers to create affordable housing stock because the only way to address the affordable housing shortage is through public-private partnerships. This is not something the state is equipped or competent to do on its own. We must use both carrots and sticks so that developers understand the commitment our state has to resolving the affordable housing crisis.  There is no longer time for small, token actions to be taken by developers. I will certainly be relying on the best minds and best ideas from far and wide to make sure that we do right by our citizens and give them safe, clean and affordable housing options

3. Do you believe the state should invest in improving older, neglected multifamily assets and deem a portion of them affordable for those on the lower and moderate end of the economic spectrum?

Improving older assets is part of the solution. So long as it is done in a responsible and economical manner, using existing housing stock can greatly expedite the timeframe of providing affordable housing to those who need it.  In addition, preserving existing housing stock can minimize disruptions to neighborhoods and help preserve the neighborhood’s identity. We must understand that we need all hands on deck to solve this affordable housing crisis and building our way out of it will not be possible.  As such, using existing housing stock will be a critical part of the solution.

Three questions from Editor-in-chief Julie Hauserman about women’s issues

1. Not including family members, tell us about a woman (or women) who influenced you?

Linda Chapin, the former mayor of Orange County, has been a foundational and formative woman in my life.  She has taught me so much about the value of public service and how to balance fighting for the greater good while at the same time balancing the many competing interests inherent in any issue.  She has always stressed that a good person does what is right, even when it is hard and is open and inviting of many viewpoints, including criticism, because this is what enables a leader to learn and do better.  Linda has not only been an incredible teacher, however, as she also has always been nurturing and supportive. She is one of those rare, high-profile people who always takes the time to ask me how I really am doing, how she can help me and what I am passionate about.  She has shown me that strong, loving and uplifting relationships with individuals is key to a happy life –– that those relationships also form the basis for cooperative action is a wonderful side benefit.

2. Florida ranks 36th among states in a report that compares women’s earnings to men’s. White women earn 80 cents to every dollar a man earns, and women of color average 59 cents to a man’s dollar. What would you do about pay equity?

It is 2018 and pay equity is long overdue. That women do not earn the same amount as men for doing the same work is unacceptable and must be stopped. We need a voice in the governor’s mansion who will tirelessly support equal pay, and I pledge to do just that. As governor, we will comb through state’s budget to make sure that no government employee is the victim of unequal pay. We must also pass laws that protect women when they are applying for jobs (e.g., employers should not be allowed to ask about past salary to intentionally or unintentionally depress the salaries of women, who are likely to have been paid less in the first place) as well as when women are promoted. Our regulatory agencies have a role in monitoring this issue as well and I believe it is appropriate for them to do so. I also support Florida ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

3. What are your plans for replacing the three outgoing justices on the Florida Supreme Court?

First, we cannot allow Rick Scott to go through with his lame-duck power grab. This right of appointment belongs to the next governor of Florida and governors must follow the spirit and letter of the law. I would be prepared to mount whatever challenges necessary in the event that Rick Scott tries to circumvent this right. When appointing the new justices, I believe that it is important to select jurists who have unimpeachable credentials, who are known for their fair and level-headed temperaments, who have a demonstrated commitment to impartiality and are not going to be unduly influenced by any group or industry and who represent Florida and its many diverse citizens. While they must be qualified, we must always seek out jurists who can bring a diversity of experiences, especially those that have been underrepresented on the Florida Supreme Court in the past.

Three questions from Deputy Editor Diane Rado on labor unions:

1.The minimum wage stands at $8.25. Should it be $15, like some other states and cities? And when should that happen?

Our state is suffering from a low-wage economy and half of the jobs in Florida pay less than that amount. Anyone who works full-time should not have to live in poverty, but our current wages make that nearly impossible. We must provide our workers with fair wages while also making Florida a more affordable place to live. At my affordable housing company, in addition to covering our employees’ healthcare costs and giving out annual bonuses to every worker, we pay living wages starting at $15 an hour. While our goal for Florida’s economy should not be to create minimum wage jobs, I support raising Florida’s hourly minimum wage up to $15.

2. With colleges and universities increasingly relying on adjunct staffers, should adjuncts continue to try to unionize and do you support the unionization efforts? Or should college and universities be required to provide higher pay and better working conditions to the part-time staffers?

Organized labor has a long history of raising wages, fighting for workers’ rights and ensuring safe and fair workplaces and workplace policies.  As such, it is not up for debate: Florida workers deserve the right to unionize and collectively bargain. Attempts by the Florida Legislature to push legislation that would decertify unions is a direct attack on Florida’s workers and middle class. I was a vocal opponent of SB1036/HB25 and the Florida Legislature’s attempt to decertify public sector labor unions. Additionally, making community college and trade schools free to attend would benefit both students and faculty as demand for faculty (and particularly full-time faculty) will increase with more students attending college and taking courses.

3. As Gov. Rick Scott touts a boost in new businesses and increases in private-sector employees in Florida, what is the reality? Do you think the private-sector employees are getting a living wage? What should be done to ensure employees have good, well-paying jobs?

Rick Scott’s “reality” does not match that of many Floridians.  Too many Floridians are stuck in low-paying jobs that barely cover the bills, and they don’t feel they have a shot at moving up the ladder. Our top priority must be how to grow the economy and create more jobs that pay well and offer a chance at advancement.

Two out of three new jobs created in the United States are created by small business. So if we’re going to create more — and better — jobs we need a boom in starting and growing small businesses in Florida.

We must give Florida entrepreneurs and small business owners the access to capital and ability to attract investment they need to leverage their innovative ideas and create a robust jobs environment. We must also attract the jobs of the future to Florida and give Florida workers access to the training and skills needed to fill those jobs.

Offer Free Florida College System (community colleges) and Public Trade School: College graduates may earn over $10,000 more than their peers with high school diplomas. As Governor, I will offer free tuition for Florida College system schools. This will help more Floridians secure well-paying jobs in growing industries like healthcare, education, and technology.

Help Floridians Pay off Student Loan Debt: Among student loan borrowers, 41 percent have delayed purchasing a home and 25 percent are delaying starting a business due to the debt of student loans. It is possible to help students with loan forgiveness while also helping to fill areas of need in the state. As Governor, I will encourage college students and graduates to live and work in Florida by offering loan forgiveness to those who go into critical professional fields.

Encourage Investments in Strategic Communities: Almost 45 percent of all businesses owned in Florida are minority owned, and one in three Floridians are employed by a small business. As Governor, I will work to expand opportunities for small businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, persons with disabilities, and to urban, rural, and green business. This will help spur economic growth across the state, from the rural regions of North Florida to the urban centers of Central and South Florida.

Foster Safe and Diverse Workplaces: For 10 years, a bill to protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination has been in the Florida legislature waiting to be passed. As Governor, I will make sure the Competitive Workforce Act is passed so every Floridian has equal protection under the law.

Increase Funding to Florida Small Business Network: For too long, Florida’s Republican leaders have invested in giant out-of-state corporations that are responsible for bring low wage and unsustainable jobs to Florida. As Governor, I will increase the state’s investment in the Florida Small Business Development Center Network, which uses state, federal, and private funding to help entrepreneurs and small business owners create, retain, and save tens of thousands of desirable jobs across the state.

Improve Access to Early Stage Capital: One of the biggest challenges to starting a new business is lack of access to startup capital. Governor Rick Scott recently vetoed line items in this year’s budget that would have invested millions in local accelerators and entrepreneurship programs. As Governor, I will look to encourage programs like StartUP FIU, Tech Runway at FAU, the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, and other programs that can link entrepreneurs with capital they need to succeed.


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Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman

Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.

CD Davidson-Hiers
CD Davidson-Hiers

CD Davidson-Hiers is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing and French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies, and has received multiple writing awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prior to joining the Florida Phoenix, CD worked at the Tallahassee Democrat and has bylines in Tallahassee Magazine. She is a native of Pensacola and currently lives in Tallahassee with her tabby cat, Faulkner.