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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Thursday, February 22, 2007

House Tax Proposal on the Table; It Ain't Pretty

    "House Republicans raised the property-tax debate to a new decibel level Wednesday by proposing to eradicate property taxes on the homes of permanent residents in exchange for the nation's highest sales tax." "Bill aims to shift tax load"
    But cities and counties would be required to slash billions of dollars in spending.

    The heart of the package is a proposed constitutional amendment that would abolish all property taxes homeowners pay on their primary residences. The amendment, which voters would have to approve in a referendum, also would add 2.5 cents to the state's 6-cent sales tax -- making it the highest statewide rate in the nation.

    The House plan also calls for a separate state law, effective July 1, that would immediately force local governments to roll back property-tax rates and cut nearly $5.8 billion in spending, or an average of 19 percent of their budgets. The legislation also would impose a cap limiting future property-tax increases. The rollback would not affect levies for school districts, but the cap on future tax increases would.
    "Tax revolution in Tallahassee" See also "Property Tax Revamp Mulled", "House to ask voters to trade property tax for more sales tax", "Property tax plan promises 19% cut", "House plan would cut property taxes", "House: End property tax, raise sales tax", "Raising sales tax to replace some property tax proposed" and "What the House tax plan would do".

    The short term impact:
    If you own a $250,000 home, the proposed replacement of property taxes with a 2.5-cent sales tax increase could save you so much you would have to amass more than $120,000 in taxable spending to offset the savings.

    And if your home is worth $1 million, you might have to spend more than half a million dollars to use up your savings.
    "Savings a boon to all homeowners".

    - Millionaires Hit the Jackpot: "'If you're rich and you have the big house or if you just have an expensive house, you will make out like a bandit. Who's going to pay for this shift? It's going to come out of the pockets of poor renters,' said David Brunori, a national tax expert and tax professor at George Washington University in Washington. Brunori said the House proposal 'is pretty unique. And it's monumentally bad. It's great short-term politics, because property tax is the one people love to hate. But from a policy standpoint, it's awful.'"Tax plan cloudy -- who pays isn't"

    - Local Government Would Be Hammered: "But the package drew angry reactions from cities and counties, which warned that the rollback would lead to wholesale cuts in everything from police and fire protection to road paving and garbage collection, and wary responses from business groups concerned about a spike in sales taxes.". See also "Palm Beach County officials skeptical about property tax plan" and "Mayor in Broward calls property tax plan 'disastrous' for cities".

    - Increases in Sales Taxes Will Hurt Tourism: "The proposed 2.5 percent sales tax hike could harm South Florida's economy, by essentially creating a tax on tourism and big-ticket items and placing the area at a competitive disadvantage, some industry experts say." "Sales tax hike could crimp tourism"

    - Renters Will Be Adversely Affected: "While owners of homesteaded property may cheer the elimination of the property tax, Florida's roughly 5.4 million renters are among those who could be hurt by a plan to raise the sales tax by 2.5 cents." "Renters would feel sales-tax pinch"

    - "People's Governor" Is "Intrigued", Doesn't Think Sales Tax Is Regressive: There's a reason Charlie kept failing the bar exam:
    Economists generally consider sales taxes "regressive" - having a disproportionate impact on lower-income people, since a larger percentage of their spending is eaten up by the sales tax.

    On Wednesday, however, Republicans called that argument flawed. "Maybe the regressive idea is not based in fact," said Gov. Charlie Crist, who added that he's "intrigued" by the House plan.
    More. Seems Charlie's been listening to Donna Arduin, about whom the St Pete Times observed last December:
    [GOPers are] actually considering a recommendation that all property taxes simply be abolished.

    This is adult supervision?

    Eliminating the property tax would require the state to raise its sales tax from the current 6 cents on the dollar to 13.5 cents, making an already regressive system intolerable. Yet Donna Arduin, a committee member who was the former budget director for Gov. Jeb Bush, acts as though fairness is a quaint concept. "The property tax system we have now isn't exactly the opiate," she told members, according to published reports. "Let's not just use the old adage 'regressive' and dismiss it."

    With such flippant discourse, the committee last month agreed to keep the issue alive and undermined their credibility as a competent, realistic panel.
    "Political stunts aren't tax reform". See also Mike Thomas today: "With this change, Florida would set a new standard as a regressive tax state. This proposal comes just after Jeb Bush and the Legislature eliminated the intangibles tax, which targeted our wealthiest residents." "No property tax -- is it really a good idea?".

    - What About the Senate? It is unclear whether the Senate will hold the line:
    Leaders in the Florida Senate reacted cautiously. The Senate isn't expected to unveil its property-tax proposal until early next month, after lawmakers have concluded a series of public hearings on the issue across the state. ...

    Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, who is spearheading the Senate's property-tax efforts, predicted senators will ultimately propose something different from both the governor and the House.

    Florida's "First Black Governor" Orders Privatization Review

    "Crist ordered a top-to-bottom review of privatization in state government Wednesday - starting with the troubled 'People First' contract with Convergys for online personnel services." "Crist orders review of privatization". See also "Contractors beware: Privatization under review" and "State rethinks privatization" (Charlie"'is determined to put an end to politics as usual in Tallahassee,' Sink said.")

    "Taking aim at one of former Gov. Jeb Bush's most treasured goals, Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday promised stricter oversight of efforts to outsource government operations. The cementing of Crist's role as the anti-Jeb was only solidified later in the day when black lawmakers -- vocal opponents of Bush for eight years -- celebrated Crist's appearance at a meeting, with one lawmaker dubbing Crist the state's 'first black governor.'" "Gov. Crist seeks more outsourcing oversight" ("The move, a swipe at Jeb Bush, further separates Crist from his predecessor").


    "After a lengthy and passionate debate, the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday morning killed a bill sponsored by Sen. Frederica Wilson that would have ended the A-F school grading system that was a key part of the A+ education reforms championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush. The split was along party lines." "Senate kills attempt to undo Bush legacy".

    "Elected Education Commissioner?"

    "With no debate and hardly any discussion, the Senate Education Committee this morning voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would return Florida's education commissioner to an elected position and a member of the Cabinet." "Return of an elected education commissioner?"


    "Crist said Wednesday that he may issue an executive order single-handedly restoring civil rights to felons who have completed their sentences. The announcement from the Republican governor drew applause from nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers from the legislative black caucus, known formally as the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators." "Crist: I'll restore felons' rights".

    "Rich/Poor Gap"

    "Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's recent warning about the pernicious effects of income inequality should strike a chord with every resident of South Florida, where the rich/poor gap becomes more evident by the day. While soaring new skyscrapers with million-dollar condos dramatically transform the skyline, workers struggle to find a decent place to live. No housing, no workers. No workers . . . you get the picture." "Fed chief warns of widening income gap".

    Paying For News Coverage

    William March: "The confusing round of questions and non-answers began Monday, when Greer announced he was cancelling plans for the party to hold a presidential primary straw vote at its fall Presidency IV convention. Instead, it would stage the debate, and Fox would broadcast it live. Later in the day, officials of the presidential campaigns told reporters that Greer had said privately that each candidate would have to pay $100,000 to participate in the convention events. To reporters, that smacked of asking candidates to pay for news coverage." "Fox Didn’t Know About $100,000 P4 Fee".

    "Capitalizing on climate change"

    "Rubio, the dynamic young speaker of the Florida House, didn't get to where he is without knowing how to make the most of opportunity." "Convergence".


    "Florida business leaders tired of the immigration deadlock in Washington will seek to form a coalition Thursday to pressure state and federal representatives to push for changes. The effort comes as local business leaders in a growing number of states are beginning to take a bigger role in the immigration debate." "Florida business leaders consider coalition on immigration change".

    Obama Rama

    "Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will be in West Palm Beach on March 25" "Obama Coming To Florida".

    Buchanan Protests

    "Vern Buchanan’s first big vote on the Iraq war is producing a surge of protests in his local offices over the next two days." "Protests target Buchanan".


    "A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed an anti-Castro militant's lawsuit to be released from an immigration jail while he awaits deportation. U.S. District Judge Philip R. Martinez threw out Luis Posada Carriles' case nearly a month after lawyers for the federal government asked that it be ended since Posada has been indicted on a criminal charge of lying during a bid to become a naturalized citizen and is no longer in immigration custody. Posada has been in U.S. immigration custody since May 2005 after surfacing in Miami." "Judge dismisses Posada's bid to be freed before deportation".

    Second Chance

    The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Most folks get a second chance at some point. Why should people who've been released from prison be any different?" "Keeping ex-cons out of jail".

    "Primary Insanity"

    "As states maneuver for maximum influence in the 2008 presidential election, Florida can better position itself without acting recklessly. The state Republican Party has prudently abandoned talk of a meaningless straw poll this fall and instead scheduled a more significant debate between GOP candidates that will draw national attention. Legislators should show similar restraint by moving the Florida primary from March into early February - but no earlier." "Best plan: fall debate, earlier primary". See also "Stop the primary insanity".

    FEC Backs Off

    "The Florida Elections Commission says it will not again investigate a Wakulla County newspaper it once accused of being in violation of Florida election laws because it mentioned two political candidates." "State backs off newspaper dispute".

    Hot Seat

    "Tuck, 32, raised in Neptune Beach and a graduate of Fletcher High School, is the state's new elections director. Appointed in January by new Secretary of State Kurt Browning, she is one of only a handful of former Northeast Florida residents in Gov. Charlie Crist's 6-week-old administration. She couldn't have picked a hotter seat to sit in." "Her job is to improve Florida's voting woes".


    "Crist, though confessing he's no math or science whiz himself, has endorsed an effort to invigorate math and science education in Florida public schools." "Governor targets math, science".

    Ruth Takes on DOC Secretary McDonough,

    "Memo to Florida Department of Corrections Secretary James R. McDonough, who got his gurney in a wad over some recent scribblings regarding his agency's keen ability to turn an execution into an event recalling The Inquisition:"

    You're absolutely right, Mr. McDonough. Putting someone to death ought not to be a laughing matter, nor a barbaric one.

    The secretary was peeved after this space suggested Florida State Prison officials managed to turn the execution of Angel Nieves Diaz late last year into something carried out by the loutish Luca Brasi from "The Godfather."

    That wasn't meant as a joke, Mr. Secretary. It was an indictment of your department's stumblebum incompetence to carry out the state's ultimate sanction in an efficient, humane manner.
    "No One's Joking About Botched Execution".

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