"Call it the de-Jebification of Florida politics." First it was withdrawal of Jebbie's midnight appointment of his Bushco cronies:
"Jeb overreached on those appointments. He's been King Jeb for so long he didn't know that anybody would challenge him," said former state GOP chairman Tom Slade. "I think basically Charlie's message was, 'Jeb, you don't run the place any more.'Crist followed up by co opting an essentially Democratic Party agenda; indeed, Charlie "has been more likely to mention former Democratic Govs. Bob Graham and Reubin Askew [than Jebbie] when talking about the advice he has sought on governing."
Crist has charted a dramatically more moderate course than Bush, embracing Democratic priorities such as paper trails for voting machines, initiatives to combat global warming, and higher teacher pay."Crist leaves little doubt Bush reign has ended".
He has not attacked Bush's top priority, high-stakes student testing and school vouchers, but most observers think he pushed out two of Bush's closest education advisers - former Education Commissioner John Winn and state Board of Education chairman Phil Handy.
In his state of the state speech last month, Crist also took a slap at the teacher bonus plan backed by Bush. Teacher pay will increase, he said. "And it will not be based on a test alone," he added to Democrats' applause.
Speaking of "De-Jebification".
There is at least one part of the House, the Florida House that is, that needs a bit more "de-Jebification". "When House Speaker Marco Rubio wanted justification for his plan to replace property taxes with an increase in the sales tax, he turned to a familiar name in conservative economic circles: Donna Arduin, former budget director to Gov. Jeb Bush." And check out this brain trust:
Arduin, who also worked for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a partner in a consulting firm with Arthur Laffer - as in the Laffer Curve, the justification of President Reagan's massive tax cuts in 1981 - and Stephen Moore, former head of the anti-tax Club for Growth."Florida is paying the firm of Arduin, Laffer and Moore Econometrics $10,000 a month under a six-month contract with the state House for Arduin's service, which so far has included delivery of a 16-page treatise that argues that taxes on wealth are bad for the economy while taxes on consumption are good." And what are we getting for the money? A little "wealth" for Ms. Arduin and company for very little work:
According to Rubio's response to a public records request, a 16-page paper titled An Analysis of the Proposed Property Tax Rollback in Florida, an earlier 15-page draft of the same and an accompanying three pages showing the potential benefits for various taxpayers are the only written work Arduin has supplied to the House since her contract began Dec. 1.Looks like Rubio used "our money" (as the wingnuts put it) to generate GOPer talking points on failed economic theory:
The three-page paper shows how much money Floridians of different income groups would save on total taxes if Rubio's proposal were implemented. The 16-page paper predicts that those tax savings would create jobs and promote population growth in the state, but does not quantify the economic assumptions that underlie the assertion.
Critics said her analysis reads more like a series of ideological assertions and further proves their belief that Rubio's plan would help the richest homeowners at the expense of middle- and lower-income Floridians."Speaker's adviser is longtime foe of taxes on wealth". For more on this see our March 3 post, "The Real Culprit".
"Legislature: Day 23 at a glance". See also "Upcoming at the Capitol".
"Sen. Jim King, a leading proponent of the controversial proposal to make the world's first cervical cancer vaccine mandatory for middle school girls, conceded Wednesday that the measure likely won't pass this year." "Gardasil bill fails to gain momentum".
Senate Dems Not In Agreement
"Although Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller held a press conference yesterday releasing the Senate Democratic plan to resolve the property tax crisis, it turns out that some of his own Democrats haven't quite signed on to the plan yet." "Sen Dems Lack Consensus on Property Tax Fix".
"Florida lawmakers assembling a $70 billion-plus state budget planned to spend a larger chunk of it on roads and other needs, but not on boosting services for disabled people." "Budget stresses one-time revenue".
Not to worry: "Lawmakers find room for pork in spending plan".
Jebbites on the March
"The University of Florida Student Senate unanimously passed a revised resolution Tuesday night honoring former Gov. Jeb Bush's contributions to the university and its students after the Faculty Senate denied Bush an honorary degree on Thursday." "Student Senate OKs revised resolution honoring Jeb Bush". See also "SG wants degree for Jeb Bush".
The Florida Independent Alligator says stop "Beating a dead horse": "After the Faculty Senate denied former Gov. Jeb Bush an honorary degree last week, the Alumni Association turned around and slapped the Senate in the face by granting him honorary alumnus status. And Tuesday, the Student Senate passed a resolution honoring him."
The fact remains that the Faculty Senate felt Bush was not deserving of an honorary degree - and it has every right to think that.The Jebbites on the Sun-Sentinel editorial board "what was done by the University of Florida faculty Senate ranks high on the pettiness scale. The panel voted against giving Bush an honorary degree, an embarrassing move that UF President Bernie Machen said was unprecedented." "Pettiness"? Hmmm ... that sounds like the cornerstone of "Jeb!"'s eight years in office.
The backpedaling of Bernie, the Alumni Association and the Student Senate can only bandage this wound. But underneath the gauze, the flesh is still cut. At this point, just let it heal.
"U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, just got off the House floor where she railed on the Bush administration for failing to better care of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center."
"Supporting our troops does not mean that you simply salute as you send them off to war, ask them to serve and sacrifice for our great country," Castor said. "But it also means that they are supported wehn they come home."Castor, Buchanan speak on House floor about VA care".
"Not long after Gov. Charlie Crist appointed him to head the state's Department of Juvenile Justice, Walt McNeil put himself on the record as recognizing what many advocates for troubled youths have long known. DJJ Secretary McNeil said that the state's juvenile-justice system is 'broken' and needs fixing. Mr. McNeil, a former Tallahassee police chief, has an uphill challenge." "Fix juvenile justice's 'broken' system".
"House panel approves Everglades cleanup initiatives".
"Hallelujah. A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House last week offers promising solutions for the nation's antiquated immigration system. Filed by Reps. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., the bill should kick off a much-needed congressional drive toward immigration reform. Along the way, lawmakers will debate, tweak and compromise." "New legislation a promising start".
Romney Snags Hood
"Glenda Hood, former Orlando mayor and Secretary of State, will serve as co-chair of Mitt Romney's statewide steering committee and chair of the 'Florida Municipal Elected Officials and Community Leaders Committee.'" "Glenda Hood joins Romney".
"The Anderson family should be compensated for the loss of their son. But there are dozens of other deserving families who have waited for years for economic justice. It is time for the Legislature to set things right and start considering these bills while reforming the system at the same time." "Deserving victims still go unpaid".
"Gigantic Sand Tubes"
"The manufacturer of a beach-reinforcement system won at least a temporary victory in the Florida Legislature, agreeing to abide by federal protections for sea turtles if its gigantic sand tubes can escape Florida's ban on unnecessary coastal armoring." "Bill would ease ban on erosion-control tubes".
Feeling the Heat
"Pressed by their constituents to change course in Iraq, South Florida Democrats in Congress are counting on a contentious debate over war funding to force President Bush to pull out U.S. troops next year." "Floridians in Congress feel heat from home over Iraq war votes".
Aaron Deslatte: "Barack Obama's stop in Tallahassee Friday is so brief his campaign isn't allowing him to talk to Florida media." "Barack's got no time for the masses".
Sorry Aaron, I know journalism is a "calling" and all that, but it is awful hard to equate Florida's corporate "media" with the "masses".
"This spring, Florida is poised to become the first state in the nation to restrict the content of fertilizer for lawns, farms, golf courses and landscaping, according to industry officials."
State officials have proposed a rule that would limit fertilizer sold in Florida to formulas classified as no- or low-phosphate - all in an effort to quell the state's biggest water pollution problem."They didn't intend to become national leaders on the fertilizer issue, state officials said, but ..." but the folks they regulaye gave them permission:
industry representatives suggested creating a uniform policy to avoid counties and cities imposing their own rules."Florida may go green through fertilizer limits".
GOPers Make Amends With Insurance Industry
"When lawmakers approved sweeping insurance changes this year, they promised Floridians would no longer wait months or years to collect on insurance claims. Now, the House is moving to undo a key part of that guarantee. Under a bill that moved forward Wednesday, insurance companies would no longer be forced to pay claims from condo associations and business owners within 90 days." "Bill would loosen insurance rule". See also "'Glitch bill' would undo consumer-friendly insurance reforms", "Florida business owners might see tax relief", "Some see backtrack on insurance relief", "Florida House wants to let insurance firms take longer to pay business, condo claims" and "Republicans debate intent of session".
"Former Rep. Mark Foley remains under criminal investigation for sexually explicit Internet communications he had with underage boys, more than six months after he resigned from Congress, authorities said Wednesday." "Six months later, Foley still under investigation". See also "Foley remains under suspicion But six months after he quit, officials have yet to charge the ex-lawmaker." and "State may charge former Congressman Foley as an Internet sex predator".
"Legislators talk tough about the urgent need to cut property taxes, but their budget proposal for the coming year does nothing to reduce the state's heavy reliance on property taxes to run public schools."
Lawmakers could have reduced the property tax rate they set each year to help pay for schools, reducing the burden on taxpayers, and used state money to make up the difference."Budget plan doesn't ease tax rate for schools".
But they didn't. They froze the property tax rate at its current level, which will produce $545-million more next year thanks to growth in the tax base, meaning higher tax bills for homeowners.
Local property taxes account for nearly half of the $1.2-billion proposed increase in public school spending that lawmakers can be expected to boast about when the session ends in May.
"After weeks of blistering city and county officials for gorging on property-tax dollars, Florida lawmakers Wednesday began drawing fire for budget proposals that demand a record level of homeowners' taxes to pay for public schools. " "School funding, or property-tax relief?".
Poor Little Rich Boys and Girls
"For those up high, taxes hit hard".
Greer Wants To Go Early
"Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer wants the Legislature to pass a bill moving up the presidential primary in Florida to one week after New Hampshire's. Greer said he favors the early vote, despite a threatened loss of 50 percent of the party's delegates at the 2008 convention." "Greer: Move up primary". See also "State Republican chairman backs early primary for Florida, despite opposition", "GOP chief pushes early primary".
The News-Journal editors differ: it is "obvious: 'Super-duper Tuesday' is a super-dumb idea." "Me-first in Florida". A different view from the Democrat: "A prime idea".
"Crist's towing bill gets new name".
Bailing Out Employers ...
... that don't provide health insurance: "KidCare will get a boost today with two press conferences that will give support to legislation to expand the insurance program for working-class families." "Children's insurance gets a boost".
"Legislators approve bill for tax holiday on hurricane supplies".
"The chorus to drop Florida’s controversial state song grows louder today, with African-American lawmakers and music teachers holding a Capitol press conference." "State song controversy grows louder". See also "Florida Urged To 'Just Sing' A New Anthem".
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Making the homeless a protected group seems dicey at best. Numbers concerning the homeless are always questionable, and unlike others who are specifically protected by the law, homeless status changes, often from day-to-day. Is it any less a horrible crime if a person is assaulted while sleeping in a dive motel than if they are attacked while sleeping in a park?" "Legislature 2007".
Privatized Death Row lawyers may be dropped