"Bush is expected next week to propose the biggest tax-cut package in state history, including a property-tax reduction that would save most homeowners less than $100 a year but mean millions of dollars to large landowners." "Gov. Bush proposes tax cut averaging almost $100 for homeowners". Here's how it would work:
Central to Bush's plan is about $500 million in a property-tax reduction that could save the owner of a home assessed at $300,000 about $80 a year."Governor set to introduce large tax cuts".
The cut, however, could save Orange County's biggest landowner, Walt Disney World, about $1.6 million annually; Universal Orlando more than $400,000; and the Marriott hotel chain about $200,000 in the Orlando area alone.
"Gov. Bush, however, has been more willing to help his brother than to protect the state's beaches. Scoffing at critics and claiming that he was looking out for Florida, he hooked up with Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., who is working to dismantle the Endangered Species Act when he's not dabbling in Florida oil drilling deals. The governor suggested 100- and 125-mile buffers off the coast, enforceable by the state in a complex series of hearings that easily could allow drilling much closer to shore. It wasn't a compromise. It was a sellout." "Protect beaches, forever".
Thurman On Fire
Thurman goes after Pruitt:
Outraged with a Republican senator's fundraising letter that accused liberals of being against God, the Boy Scouts and the Pledge of Allegiance, Florida's Democratic Party is accusing its author of hypocritically misusing his office."State senator's letter outrages Democrats". See also "Thurman: 'GOP Culture of Corruption'", "Senator's pitch draws complaint", "Pruitt's fiery letter raises hackles" and "Senator's letter prompts call for censure".
Democrats say Ken Pruitt, slated to lead the state Senate next year, should be censured by the very panel he chairs: the Senate Rules Committee.
Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman said Pruitt violated a Senate rule calling on members to uphold the integrity of their office because his letter spoke of his official position, noting that it gives him "influence over what bills are voted on."
Thurman, pointing to federal lobbying scandals, said Pruitt was part of the "GOP culture of corruption." She compared his alleged transgression to a case involving Fort Lauderdale Democratic Sen. Mandy Dawson, who was rebuked last year by the full Senate -- at the behest of Pruitt's committee -- for soliciting money from lobbyists to pay for a trip to Africa.
"Jeb!" Covers For Dubya
"Up to 100,000 Florida seniors stranded without drug coverage because of widespread glitches in the new federal Medicare program will have their prescriptions paid for temporarily by the state, Gov. Jeb Bush said Thursday." "State to pay for seniors' drugs, for now". See also "Bush says state will backstop drug plan", "Florida to pay excess charges for poor in Medicare drug plan" and "State will pay what Medicare missed" ("By the governor's order, Florida will pick up the tab for some medications that used to be covered by Medicaid.")
The Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus "sidestepped the law, as well as guidelines issued last week by state House and Senate leaders, by deciding not to use any of the money earned from the event for a charity the Hispanic legislators control." "For this one round of golf, a way around gift-ban law".
GOoPers Run Florida "Like a Business"
"Florida paid $155 million for its share of federal disaster aid to residents after the 2004 hurricanes without checking the legitimacy of the claims, a state audit has concluded." "Florida paid FEMA $155 million without verifying storm claims".
Bense Threatens PBC on Scripps
"Florida House Speaker Allan Bense threatened Thursday to take back the $310 million allocated to Palm Beach County if the county commission doesn't 'get its act together' regarding The Scripps Research Institute." "House speaker says he might pull county's Scripps money".
Just A Bird
"Federal wildlife officials rejected a proposal from environmentalists to reclassify the Florida scrub jay as endangered." "Scrub jay's classification hovers at 'threatened'".
Class Size Games
"Florida's Republican-led Legislature on Thursday took its first step in a renewed drive to water down class-size caps, which passed with overwhelming support from South Florida voters in 2002." "House panel moves toward GOP repeal on class sizes". See also "House panel votes for looser class size limits" and "House moves to ease class size limits".
"McInvale in Damage Control"
First, "Rep. Sheri McInvale, the Orlando lawmaker who recently switched from the Democrat to Republican party, has sent letters to contributors offering to give them their money back if they disagreed with her decision. And here's the best part: You paid for it! McInvale sent it out on official House letterhead, featuring the House seal and listing her committee assignments." "A Newly-Minted Republican Offers Refunds".
Next, as it turns out, "McInvale's use of government resources to send a political letter is a violation of House policy. [Bense spokesman]Towson Fraser says McInvale has agreed to reimburse the state treasury for the cost of the ill-advised letter and will send out a corrected letter, paid for by her political campaign." "McInvale in Damage Control".
Charlie and Donald
"Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, who as state attorney general portrays himself as a friend of the little guy, is touting support from a big cheese. Tycoon Donald Trump will throw him a campaign fundraiser on Feb. 3 at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Crist announced Thursday." "Trump deals an ace to Crist ".
Our Education Governor
Rep. Curtis Richardson writes that Black "enrollment losses can be directly attributed to Republican policies, especially those of the governor. Foremost among those policies was One Florida, the governor's unilateral act to eliminate affirmative action in Florida's universities by executive order." "Bush policies caused decline in minority college enrollment".
More GOoPer "Business Values"
"A state audit released Thursday blasted Citizens Property Insurance as being poorly managed and wholly unprepared to handle thousands of hurricane claims the past two years." "State's auditors savage Citizens". See also "Audit details problems at Citizens Property Insurance", "Insurer Agrees It Must Change" and "Lawmaker wants Citizens' execs to answer management queries".
Thet're Just Manatees
"More Florida manatees died in 2005 than in any other year except 1996. The death toll for manatees continues to trend upward, despite state-enforced slow-speed zones, refuges and dock-building restrictions. So, when wildlife scientists for the state proposed downgrading manatees' protection as an endangered species, the immediate reaction was, 'They must be joking.' Sadly, they're not." "Manatee status".
Cost of College Going Up
"Florida's 11 public universities are a bargain in terms of tuition, but students are likely to be paying significantly more in nontuition fees next fall." "Higher college fees are sought".
"No time limit on justice"
"So far, five men imprisoned by the state of Florida have been exonerated through DNA testing. The latest to be released is Alan Crotzer, sentenced to 130 years for armed robbery and rape in 1981. Mr. Crotzer's case is an example of how our criminal-justice system can sometimes be flawed. The five exonerations are compelling reasons why the Legislature should lift a July deadline for persons convicted before 2001 to use DNA evidence to prove their innocence. Lawmakers also should drop the two-year deadline for persons convicted since 2001. There should be no time limit on justice." "Don't put justice in a straitjacket".