This is starting to get sad: "Former Gov. Jeb Bush may have been denied a University of Florida honorary degree, but he has been given alumni status."
The University of Florida Alumni Association's board of directors passed the resolution Saturday naming the former governor an honorary alumnus.And if you believe this ..."
The move comes after the school's Faculty Senate voted 38-28 Thursday to deny Bush an honorary degree.
Leonard Spearman, president of the University of Florida Alumni Association ... said his group's decision had nothing to do with the Faculty Senate vote.Jeb Bush named UF honorary alumnus".
Mr. Spearman resides in of all places, Katy, Texas. The board also includes one Bernie Machen who was none too happy with the decision to deny "Jeb!" an honorary degree. "'Jeb!' No Gator". See also "You can't be a Gator, faculty tells Jeb Bush".
Hurricane Season Approaching
"With hurricane season approaching, Floridians want the National Guard to have everything it needs to respond quickly and effectively to natural disasters. But the Iraq war's drain on personnel and equipment is forcing the Guard to work overtime to stay prepared." "Iraq drains the Guard, leaves Florida on edge".
"The rollback of tax rates to either 2001 or 2004 levels is part of plans endorsed by House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami. Senators leading their chamber's overhaul of Florida's troubled property-tax system agree that some kind of rollback is likely to be approved this year." However,
the savings would be much greater for Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and other land-rich business giants such as Marriott Corp. and Progress Energy. ...And it isn't as if big business has "been staggered by rising property assessments".
Not surprisingly, business groups are the strongest supporters of rolling back tax rates.
"It's really just that the more taxes you pay, the larger the share you get back," said Kurt Wenner, an analyst with Florida TaxWatch, a nonpartisan, business-backed oversight organization. "But just about any plan to give across-the-board tax cuts is going to have some inequities."
In Orange County, for example, the valuation of Walt Disney World's vast holdings -- set at $5.7 billion by county property appraisers -- is only 8 percent more than its value in 2001."Tax rollback would put money in big pockets".
Similarly, Universal, whose Orange County property is assessed at almost $1.6 billion, has seen its valuation rise by only 7 percent since six years ago.
I Am Shocked
"A South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis of property records shows owners of palatial estates and waterfront mansions pay taxes on less than half of their home value. However, the owners of the most modest homes and condos are taxed on two-thirds of their home value." "Broward's richest owners get biggest tax break on homes".
Cooking the Charter School Stats
"State officials boasted in November that Florida charter students were closing the longtime achievement gap with peers at conventional public schools." Now we get the truth:
"Charters serve fewer poor, disabled".
A state report said a likely reason was a "more diverse student population" at charters today, similar to that at traditional schools.
Only two paragraphs in the report, titled "A Decade of Progress," discussed a different change that also can affect a school's test scores: the shrinking percentage of poor and disabled charter students.
A majority are doing what some opponents predicted more than 10 years ago: serving primarily the affluent and the able while harder-to-teach children remain in regular public schools.
"The House plan to lease the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to a private company may not go anywhere this year." "State races to catch up with roadway demands".
5 Draft Deferments
"'They're not supporting the troops. They're undermining them,' Cheney told a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the oceanside Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manalapan, Fla., about 60 miles north of Miami." "AP: Cheney accuses Democrat-led House of not supporting troops".
So nice of Cheney to claim, on Florida soil no less, that he is (now) a supporter of our troops; this from the fellow who had had plenty of chances to be one of the "troops", yet is quoted as saying he avoided becoming a Vietnam trooper because "'I had other priorities in the 60's than military service.'". Indeed, "By the time Dick Cheney turned 26 in January 1967 and was no longer eligible for the draft, he had asked for and received five deferments". See also "How Dick Cheney dodged the draft. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine".
"Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson clearly has moved forward from the train wreck that was election night,"
leaving defeated candidates who thought they'd won to make their personal mental adjustments, as in: "The possum has adjusted to having been run over by the 18-wheeler.""It's not a 'slight glitch' that cuts credibility".
Blurbex has a great catch: "Blue State and Rod Smith".
Here's an Idea
The St Pete Times says "let's throw into the stew pot the one idea no one is floating - a state income tax. Let's peg it at 3 percent. Now catch your breath. We are simply running some numbers to see where they come out. Article VII of the Florida Constitution makes it all but impossible without an amendment, but it's hardly the only idea that would require a constitutional change. In a season of radical ideas, it's just one more." "Sure, it's unconstitutional, but ...".
"Florida's political parties are gearing up for a war, albeit an awfully quick one, in Orange and Osceola counties. That's where the hurry-up special election to replace former Rep. John Quinones, R-Kissimmee, will take place next month." "Both parties scramble to gain seat as each vote counts in tax debate".
"Senate is courting disaster with its slow pace on tax reform"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "The House, under Speaker Marco Rubio, is moving at breakneck speed with proposals focused on cutting or eliminating local property taxes and replacing them with higher sales taxes. Contrast that to Senate President Ken Pruitt's dangerously slow approach, with no ideas on the table and none expected until after the 60-day session is half over. Far from being responsible and deliberative, the Senate is flirting with disaster. There is no more important issue for the Legislature this year, and it would be shameful to slap together an ill-conceived compromise in the Legislature's final days, when common sense is usually sacrificed for political expediency." "Start talking".
"Local and state policy makers, along with taxpayers, need to pay close attention, because there is much at stake with the new cities planned for Florida." "Enthusiasm For New Florida Cities Rooted In Suburban Mistakes".
The best plan would be for voters to repeal Save Our Homes in tandem with a rollback of local government tax collections. Since most year-rounders enjoy Save Our Homes protection, however, voters would be unlikely to raise their taxes, even slightly. So the Legislature tries to work around what really can't be worked around."Prescription for tax fever: Cool it down".
And there's so little time. The legislative session ends in early May. To put something on the ballot this year would require a three-fourths vote in the House and Senate. Democrats control about 35 percent in each chamber, so any plan would need bipartisan support. But rushing could mean only that both parties are to blame for a short-term solution that causes long-term problems.
"Close to 300 people, including about 75 Floridians, attended the coalition's annual winter meeting at the Ritz-Carlton ... The Washington, D.C.-based coalition, which acts as a voice for Jewish Republicans, has longstanding ties with President Bush and represents about 25,000 members nationwide." "In South Florida, Cheney calls House's Iraq vote 'counterproductive'".
New Budget Proposal
"Crist has submitted $245-million in new requests. But they are more than offset by $700-million in anticipated savings due in part to lower-than-expected Medicaid caseloads and the decision to replace some tax revenue for education with income from heavily taxed slot machines in Broward County." "Crist polishes first budget".
"The problem, legislators and workers agree, is that the definition of moral turpitude is up to school boards. Some have defined it in the strictest sense possible, well beyond what sponsors intended, so that a person cleared in one county sometimes fails in another. This year’s Senate bill (SB 988) would replace the vague “moral turpitude” with a specific list of sex crimes, along with terrorism, murder and kidnapping." "Lawmakers, communications workers want changes to Lunsford Act".
Local "Spending Binge"?
This piece in the Miami Herald this morning is going to please the Rubio crowd: "Local governments in South Florida have used soaring property-tax revenue to finance a spending binge over the past seven years." "Property tax money fuels big spending". See also "New House plan would put crimp in cash flow" and "Cities forced back from the trough".
"Light, Not Heat"
The St Pete Times editorial board: "As Gov. Charlie Crist and state lawmakers continue to wrestle with property tax relief, they should consider some lessons from their handling of the last crisis. Early indications suggest their solution to the property insurance mess is not working out nearly as well as expected." "Tax debate needs light, not heat".
Jebbie's "Arrogant and Ultimately Self-defeating Approach"
The St Pete Times editors: "For the better part of the last decade, Florida lawmakers have treated teachers as though they are obstacles to educational progress. That's an arrogant and ultimately self-defeating approach, one that led to a statewide rebellion over bonus pay. This new plan is still likely to encounter some resistance and is badly timed in a year with little new money for public schools. But at least lawmakers listened." "A better grade for bonus plan".
Florida GOP Debates
"No word yet on candidate commitments, but the Florida GOP and Fox News may not be the only ones organizing a GOP presidential debate in the Sunshine State. The Christian broadcasting company, Salem Radio Network, and Townhall.com announced they intend to host Florida's first nationally broadcast presidential debate for Republican candidates June 14." "Another GOP debate".
"A major Tampa Bay Democrat dislikes Hillary Clinton. But this high-profile politician's snub probably won't bother the Democratic presidential front-runner much. It's Joe Redner, who says he's so far most impressed with Barack Obama." I doubt Hill is overly concerned as she - with Hubby in tow - swings
through Florida Saturday, raising money in Orlando, West Palm Beach and Miami. "Clinton's critic unlikely to shake her campaign".