Looks like a battle may be shaping up over the House tax proposals. "House Speaker Marco Rubio said Thursday that an increased sales tax would not hurt the poor and is better than the alternative."
"I'm telling you what's going to happen if we don't deal with it this year, someone is going to put the double homestead exemption on the ballot and it's going to pass and you're going to wipe out entire counties in this state," Rubio told the Tiger Bay Club."House speaker promotes tax plan". Meanwhile, "Small business group opposes House property tax plan"; see also "Sales tax hike worries tourism businesses". But Rubio has his supporters. See "Realtors cautiously backing property tax plan" and "Rubio impresses Tiger Bay crowd". See generally "Homeowners likely to save big" ("With complicated property tax plans seemingly emerging on a daily basis in the state Capitol, nothing is certain. But one thing is clear. When the debate ends in early May, homeowners are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries in any property tax-cutting proposals conceived by the Florida Legislature.")
The editorial pages aren't exactly jumping on the bandwagon:
- Daytona Beach News-Journal: "We have a serious problem in Florida but the House solution would increase tax inequities. Legislators desperate for political solutions created the mess we have today -- and they are poised to further muddy matters." "Turning tricks with taxes in Florida House of ill compute".
- Tampa Trib: "A higher sales tax in exchange for no property taxes on homes is appealing bait for a dangerous trap." "Abolishing Taxes On Homes Would Create New Problems".
- Palm Beach Post: "Just when Florida needs responsible tax reform, the state House offers irresponsible tax reform. ... The House plan would set up lots of politicians for successful campaigns in 2008. It could set up Florida for a new set of tax problems that last long after 2008." "Temptation of tax plan also makes it dangerous".
College Republican Fun
At FSU, the "Institute for Conservative Studies brought in Reginald Jones to speak about 'Betrayal: How Black America Has Been Sold Out By The Civil Rights Movement'."
The event was promoted by the [FSU] College Republicans, who were offering a caucasian-only scholarship."Conservative speaker brings controversy to FSU".
The FSU College Republicans are something special, representing what they call "unabashed, unapologetic Republicanism" (caucasian-only scholarships?). Interesting to see what they call their "Republican News Sources": The Drudge Report, Sayfie Review, and Fox News".
The Price of Democracy
"For the first time ever, there's a known price tag for influencing the Florida Legislature: at least $58 million. And counting."
Lobbyists reaped at least that amount last year -- and might have earned up to $38 million more, depending on how the numbers are figured -- from corporations, special-interest groups and cities and counties that wanted to influence the Legislature, according to an extensive review by The Miami Herald of newly required lobbyist disclosure forms."$58 million spent to lobby Legislature".
And Your Point Is?
The Tampa Trib editors: "Police salaries in Tampa, for example, are among the South's highest." Is that a bad thing?
"The Buzz: "MSNBC's Keith Olbermann takes a shot at Florida Congressman Adam Putnam this week, naming him the Worst Person in the World for pushing a 'phony' story about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's travel requests." "Adam Putnam: 'Worst person in the world'". See transcript here.
"A state House committee unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that would move up Florida's presidential primary election by at least a month with the aim of giving the state more influence over who wins the White House." "Bill seeks earlier primary for Florida".
"Giuliani is starting to gear up his presidential campaign in Florida, with an eye on state lawmakers' plans to bump up the primary right after New Hampshire's vote. A campaign manager for former Gov. Jeb Bush, Karen Unger, will be a top Giuliani advisor in Florida." "Guiliani gears up campaign in Florida". See also "It's like being in NYC for Giuliani" and "Giuliani at home with New Yorkers during Florida campaign stop".
The Tampa Trib editorial board thinks "Private Colleges Deserve A Raise".
"Lauren Mitchell of CODEPINK, which is organizing Friday’s protest, said her group is trying to be respectful of Buchanan and his staff." "The 1960s it wasn’t".
"The Associated Press reporter, who has witnessed all 20 lethal injection executions in Florida, wrote that Diaz was 'grimacing in pain.' The Miami Herald reporter wrote that the execution "looked agonizing." The Gainesville Sun reporter wrote that Diaz 'shuddered and appeared to grimace in pain.' Department of Corrections officials who participated in or witnessed the execution said they saw no such thing." "'As if in pain': Notes from Diaz execution".
"There are about 700,000 children in Florida who can't get routine healthcare because they're uninsured. ... Some Republicans have admitted it was a mistake a few years ago when the GOP-controlled Legislature intentionally made it harder to enroll [into the state's subsidized health insurance program] by requiring more documentation." "Florida lawmakers take on children's health care". See also "KidCare accessibility ills getting a hard look" and "Lawmakers push for more children to get health coverage".
"About 200 residents from St. Cloud to Cocoa Beach packed a public hearing Thursday, angry over a state property-tax system many said is broken. Homeowners told of taxes jumping by 50 percent or more. Farmers said they worried about being run out of business. Some said costs are so high they can't live here anymore." "Irate residents decry taxes". See also "Property tax hearing tonight".
Gearge Diaz: "Charter-boat operators, commercial fishermen and others have successfully lobbied to take fishing restrictions off the table. Former Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed the $3 million operating budget for the Florida Oceans and Coastal Resources Council, formed in 2005, to make management recommendations to the Legislature on coastal and ocean policies." "Bureaucratic seaweed causing havoc off coast".
Here's a Shocker
The reliably anti-union Orlando Sentinel contends that "Seminole County School Board members did the right thing in approving a merit-pay plan over the objection of the teachers union". "Meritorious stand".
"A renewed battle is heating up in the Legislature this spring over whether school boards in Orange and other large districts should be led by a politically powerful chairman elected countywide." "Lawmakers to revisit hot issue: Elected leader for school boards".
The House Jobs and Entrepreneurship Council approved "a bill (HB 529) designed to encourage competition in part by stripping cities and counties of their authority to grant cable TV franchises and giving it to a state agency. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa, said cable companies have become de facto monopolies in most Florida communities under existing law. The legislation is patterned after a similar law passed last year in Texas." "House panel approves bill to take cable TV from cities, counties". See also "House council OKs state cable takeover".
Actually, Privatization Is Presumptively "Bad"
The Tallahassee Democrat editors claim that "it isn't because it's necessarily bad to outsource to private companies functions that had been performed by public agencies. But it's faulty to simply assume that private is always better and more cost-efficient, and to fail to hold private firms to the same accountability standards as public agencies for their handling of taxpayer dollars." "Crist-allized".
The St Pete Times editors remind us that "Bush was so intent on privatizing government services at any cost that he once vetoed a Republican-led attempt at requiring some financial oversight." They argue that the "Convergys contract and others of similar size have enjoyed the kind of political protection in Tallahassee that has helped the defense industry thrive in Washington." "It's wise to scrutinize move to privatize".
"In his first State of the County address since voters gave him strong-mayor powers, Carlos Alvarez struck a theme meant to reassure Miami-Dade residents, the County Commission and county employees that his new authority will bring no radical changes, no wholesale shakeups at County Hall. Instead, the mayor promised steady, solid improvements in departments whose directors must identify specific objectives and set reasonable timetables to achieve them -- or else answer to the mayor." "An olive branch, a sensible vision".
Press Release: "Governor Mitt Romney Names Florida Statewide Finance Committee". See also "Romney Announces Florida Backers, Starts Ad Buy">".
"Florida gets slammed on all sides"
"When it comes to immigration, Florida gets slammed on all sides, business leaders said Thursday, as they laid ground for a statewide industry coalition to push for comprehensive immigration reform." "Florida business leaders to build pressure to break immigration jam".
"All that's missing now is some urgency"
"There's hope yet for the future of the gopher tortoise. All that's missing now is some urgency. Eight months after upgrading the tortoise to threatened status, the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has drafted a plan that all but abolishes the horrific practice of crushing or burying the tortoises alive in the name of development." "Wildlife".
"Florida lawmakers on Thursday approved $15-million for a cancer research venture between drugmaker Merck & Co. and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa." "State to fund Merck-Moffitt cancer project".
What They Want
Telecoms "desperately want to pass a bill that would change the way consumers across Florida get their television, Internet and telephone services. Billions of dollars are at stake in the all-out war between telephone companies and traditional cable television companies." "BellSouth's lobbying bonanza". See also yesterday's "Telecoms pour money into lobbying".
Mel "Martinez’s proposed Tax Equity and Affordability Act of 2007, which he first filed in Congress last year, calls for providing tax credits to individuals and families without employer-sponsored insurance so they can buy health insurance on their own. The measure targets the low income and the tax credit could be used to off-set premiums." "Martinez pushes act that would help uninsured".
"Crist visits 'A' school to praise its successes". See also "Crist: Principals just as important as FCAT in awarding raises".
"With assurances from the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections that Diebold Election Systems Inc. is working to address voting machine foul-ups, council members Thursday approved an annual warranty contract with the company. County Chairman Frank Bruno questioned Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall about memory card failures, machines not automatically adjusting to daylight-saving time and machines indicating that 100 percent of the votes had been counted when none cast on touch-screen machines had been tallied." "Volusia approves warranty for voting machines".