Seven years of Gov. Jeb Bush's economic policies have made living in Florida pricier for most people, House Democrats said Monday in an attempt to blow holes through the State of the State address Bush will deliver this morning."Democrats Say State Of State Not Great".
The benefits of $14 billion in tax cuts passed during Bush's tenure have not reached average Floridians, Rep. Anne Gannon, D-Delray Beach, said during a news conference in the Capitol. The median income in Florida has risen 16 percent since 1998, she said, but the state tax burden on residents has risen 17 percent. Fees have increased 52 percent; median home prices are up 55 percent, and state-imposed property taxes are up 23 percent, Gannon said.
The state now has "lower-wage jobs, higher costs and higher taxes and fees, neglected public schools, and fewer Floridians with health care," said House Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. "Many Floridians are having trouble making ends meet."
by someone who voted for him:
This is a plot and, by golly, it's devious. It's gotta be Jeb."Read fine print when you vote on class size".
Remember when Bush campaigned against the class-size amendment in 2002? He said it would result in astronomical costs and tax increases. He said it would "blot out the sun."
Yet here we are with yet another sunny budget surplus. Instead of tax increases, Bush has been doling out tax cuts to all those Phillips Academy grads who followed him here.
This is not about being able to afford small classes. It is about politicians who resent your telling them how to spend your money.
"The machines can be broken into"
Where's the outrage?
After first denying that there is a problem, Florida election officials have now ordered more security measures for voting machines in all 67 counties. File this one under the heading: "Better late than never.""For secure elections".
Florida's top election officials could have gotten a head-start on closing security gaps in election machinery had they reacted more quickly to voters' concerns after recent elections regarding possible inaccuracies or tampering with voting equipment.
They dismissed voters' worries that optical-scan machines could be broken into by hackers and concerns about the lack of a paper trail for touch-screen equipment.
Even after a watchdog group successfully hacked into optical-scan equipment in a test authorized by Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho last November, state officials downplayed the results. Now similar experiments by computer hackers in California, also on Diebold equipment, have confirmed that the machines can be broken into. This apparently was the proof state officials needed to order counter-measures across the state.
The New Hot Issue
"As the annual Florida legislative session begins here today, the high cost of housing is on the agenda like seldom before." "Housing barges into state debate".
Harris Death Watch
Scott Maxwell: "There's now serious speculation that Harris may finally do on her own what some of the Republican Party wanted all along: Drop out.
" "More trouble for Harris: The final straw?"
You gotta love the imagery:
Gov. Jeb Bush starts the 2006 session of the Florida Legislature today with confidence that he can crown his tenure as one of the biggest tax-cutting governors in America."Bush seeks $1.5 billion in tax cuts; critics want surplus spent on other needs". And this from the Tallahassee Democrat:
And to culminate his reign, Bush wants nothing short of the largest round of tax breaks in Florida history.
Democratic candidate for governor Jim Davis on Monday proposed eviscerating one of Gov. Jeb Bush's crowning achievements: the FCAT."Davis wants to water down FCAT".
Dead Man (and Woman) Walking
Cheney, Harris; two of the most unpopular people in U.S. politics - a lot of synergy there: "Cheney touts Shaw, Harris". See also "Cheney stumps for Shaw in hotly contested race" and "Vice president stumps in Boca Raton".
Ric [sic] Keller is next: "Democrats are actually happy to see Dick Cheney come campaign for Keller and other Republicans. The VP, after all, has approval ratings that are actually lower than O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson after their trials, according to The Washington Post. So will Cheney do Keller more damage than good? No way, says UCF pundit Aubrey Jewett: "That pales in comparison to the amount of money he can raise."".
"Eviscerating" the FCAT
"The two Democrats running for governor -- Rod Smith and Jim Davis -- want to curtail, or eliminate, the use of Florida's high-stakes test in schools." "Politicians take aim at FCAT". See also "Davis wants to water down FCAT" ("Democratic candidate for governor Jim Davis on Monday proposed eviscerating one of Gov. Jeb Bush's crowning achievements: the FCAT".)
And So It Begins
"Bush gives his final State of the State address Tuesday, and is expected to highlight tax breaks and education improvements over his two terms while laying out an agenda for items he still wants to see accomplished." "Bush set to outline agenda for final legislative session". See also "Governor Expected To Key On Tax Breaks And Education" and "Debates begin as lawmakers gather for 2-month session".
"Florida's farmers will fight for tax relief and more development rights this legislative session, which begins today." "Farmers want protections, tax breaks".
GOopers Out of Touch
Legislative "priorities lead some to wonder if state leaders are truly in step with their constituents. A recent South Florida Sun-Sentinel poll makes the point. A majority of the poll's respondents favor using tax dollars to reduce class size, increase teacher pay and curb university tuition hikes. They also want more state government oversight of insurers and utilities." "The Legislature is now in session".
Crotty Investigation; Don't Expect Much
Bush Pioneer and father of "The Boy Who Yawned" is the subject of a criminal probe:
Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday appointed an outside state attorney to investigate allegations that Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty improperly profited from a land deal.And don't you love this:
The investigation involves a 2002 project Crotty helped fund in Palm Beach County with Daryl Carter, a big-time central Florida real estate broker. The Orlando Sentinel reported Feb. 24 that Crotty approved rezoning for some of Carter's Orlando-area land just before he invested $100,000 in a group $21.8 million Boynton Beach venture.
Stephen Russell, state attorney for the 20th judicial circuit in southwest Florida, will handle the investigation instead of Orlando-based prosecutor Lawson Lamar. Crotty has not been charged with any crimes related to the deal.
The mayor said he and Carter became friends through a Bible study group ... ."Bush appoints special attorney to investigate Crotty".
And whatever happened to this: "Bush Booster Crotty in Crosshairs"?
"Top state lobbyist says this is the right time to retire".
"During the Legislature's 60-day session that opens today, Gov. Bush can do more than stand by as homeowners prepare to get more depressing policy renewals — if they get the renewals. He can ask that lawmakers deal with the insurance problem by demanding something from the industry that has received so much from the state." "Legislature, governor have more work to do". See also "State lawmakers faced with hurricane insurance issues".
"Gift ban puts chill on hot party". See also "Parties Crashing" and "Gift ban definitely hurting us, say city and business leaders".
The Tallahassee Democrat ...
says "Welcome, lawmakers".
"The people of Florida have written so many ideas into their constitution that Republican legislative leaders want to strip it back to basics and start over." "Republicans want constitution redo".
"It didn't take long for Democrat Jan Schneider's congressional campaign to point out that the illegal campaign donations given to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in 2004 were used against Schneider. Two days after defense contractor Mitchell Wade admitted in federal court to funnelling $32,000 in illegal contributions to Harris, Schneider's campaign was putting out in a two page letter to the media how close the Democrat came to winning despite the illegal donations." "Schneider: Harris' Victory Tainted".
"Twenty-one of Florida's 25 U.S. House members sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on Monday opposing the agency's plan to open a large area of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and natural gas drilling about 100 miles south of the Panhandle." "Florida congressional delegation challenges offshore oil plan". See also "Fla. lawmakers oppose oil exploration plans".
"A year ago, The Hotline rated Republican attempts to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, as the seventh-best race in the nation. Now, Chuck Todd, editor-in-chief of The Hotline, has pushed the race to 15th, just ahead of the race in Hawaii in which incumbent Sen. Daniel Akaka, a Democrat, has no Republican opposition." "Magazine editor confident Harris can't defeat Nelson".
Gore In Town
"Vice President Gore will be hosting a fundraiser at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach on Sunday, March 12. The reception begins at 3 p.m. General admission is $100 per person.".
Yesterday, "In a news conference in Plantation, the Florida AFL-CIO cited data from the Census Bureau showing that the median Floridians' household income adjusted for inflation dropped to $40,554 in 2004 from $42,621 in 2000. During the same four years, the Economic Policy Institute found income of the richest 20 percent of Floridians grew 62.6 percent, compared to 31.5 percent growth for the 20 percent with middle incomes." "Union activists claim family standard of living deteriorated under Jeb Bush".
Don't you love the headline: Union leaders "claim", the inference being that the data is false or has been manipulated.
In today's Sun Sentinel, a different version of the story (this one by John Kennedy) reads: "Democrats claim Bush is hurting families, workers".