... and it sounds like he has folded his sales tax tent: "During the past few weeks, Rep. David Simmons, a Republican from Maitland, suggested an idea that met the House's policy goals, and offered an opportunity for opponents of the House plan to reconsider their objections"
.The House is now considering a variation of his idea of dramatically increased homestead exemptions based on a percentage of the value of the home. We think this approach is fair and simple, and eliminates many of the inequities that have developed under our current property-tax structure."Speaker: Florida House set to deliver property-owner protection".
Here is an example of how this approach might work:
On the home's first $300,000 in just value, 80 percent would be exempt from property taxes.
On the next $700,000 in just value, 70 percent would be exempt.
On just value above $1,000,000, 30 percent would be exempt.
Under the numbers used in the example above, the new homestead exemption for a $300,000 home would be $240,000. Using the example above, 90 percent of all homestead property owners would benefit more from this proposal than under the current Save Our Homes structure. The average beneficiary of this approach would see his or her tax bill cut in half.
More: "State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican and staunch defender of Marco Rubio's plan to swap sales taxes for homeowner property taxes, admitted to a group of South Florida Republicans that legislators will need a back up plan when the special session starts June 12." "Bogdanoff backs off sales tax swap".
Pamela Hasterok, writing yesterday, is confident Rubio will back down:
newspapers and pundits judge the governor's first legislative session as less than a success. ..."Crist's wish list mostly met".
[Charlie] didn't -- couldn't -- push Speaker Marco Rubio off his promise to eliminate property taxes in return for raising the sales tax.
"As House Speaker Marco Rubio's top adviser, Richard Corcoran was immersed in crafting a bold but controversial plan to swap property taxes for higher sales taxes."
But as a candidate for the state Senate, Corcoran said Thursday he "opposes any new taxes whatsoever, and that includes the sales tax.""Rubio ex-aide in tight spot on tax swap proposal".
He was careful to say he was giving his general view on taxes, refusing to comment when asked directly about the House plan -- the only property tax proposal that includes a sales tax.
It's the same plan Corcoran's opponents in the Senate District 3 race, Reps. Dennis Baxley and Charlie Dean, voted for last month.
"I'm not going to be pitted against my former boss and friend," Corcoran said. He also refused to detail his involvement in developing the House proposal.
The Palm Beach Post editors: "It is called the 'Consumer Choice Act of 2007,' but the bill the Legislature has sent to Gov. Crist really gives most of the choices to cable TV and telecommunications companies. Consumers won't choose them; the companies will choose their consumers." "For 'Consumer Choice,' the best choice is a veto".
"The attempt to further privatize Medicare is a growing failure that undermines the program's long-term stability. Rules for private plans, called Medicare Advantage, favor insurance companies over recipients and taxpayers. Now several states report marketing abuses to trick or cajole retirees into switching to private plans that may cost more or offer less than traditional Medicare coverage. ... In Florida, Universal Health Care Insurance Co. sold policies so hastily that it outgrew required cash reserves and had to postpone new enrollments." "Advantage, insurance companies".
From the "Values" Crowd
"A program that helped thousands of mostly disadvantaged students attend college in Florida this year has suffered a financial blow. The state Legislature didn't set aside new money in its budget for the First Generation Grant Program, which provides scholarships to students whose parents do not have college degrees. " "Legislators cut back on funding for First Generation scholarship program".
Pigs at the Trough
"With the start of hurricane season three weeks away, Gov. Charlie Crist's administration suddenly canceled a $450,000 contract for a public awareness campaign after two media companies protested the award of the project to a third firm."
The cancellation of the contract in the first year of the post-Jeb Bush era of hurricane readiness comes at an awkward time for Florida's new governor. ...The choice of Sachs' firm was a loss of prestige for the broadcasters group [the Florida Association of Broadcasters, a trade group for TV stations], which has had a close two-decade relationship with the emergency management agency.
The state's storm-preparedness agency, the Division of Emergency Management, awarded the bulk of the contract to Ron Sachs Communications, run by a former journalist who was Gov. Lawton Chiles' communications director during Hurricane Andrew in 1992
"I'm insulted," said Pat Roberts, the broadcasters' longtime director. "In 20 years, this was the saddest thing I've ever seen.""State kills hurricane ads".
Sachs said Roberts' group has long had a tight grip on public service programming during storm season, and that Roberts' role in preparedness is overstated.
"Pat Roberts is a sore loser," Sachs said.
Said Roberts: "His greed exceeds anything I've seen in Tallahassee."
"Ask The Governor: Crist works on creating a 'greener' state".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "State legislators face up to a certain automobile insurance problem the way most people face up to Tax Day: They procrastinate, but they can't escape the deadline. ... Next month's special session offers a chance to beat the October deadline. Almost everyone familiar with this issue knows how Florida can make no-fault work. It makes more sense to enact those reforms than to abolish no-fault and wait to assess the damage that would be as certain as death and taxes." "Keep 'no-fault' system".
Not Yet Anyway
"Prospective Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson spoke to the Hillsborough Bar Association Foundation tonight in Tampa but, weirdly, his people barred the media from covering the speech." "Fred Thompson not pandering yet in FL". See also "Thompson refuses to rush decision" and "Thompson Says He’s Not Decided But “Ready”".
Hey Charlie ...
... care to comment? "In Florida, where officials are preparing for a predicted busy hurricane season, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has expressed concern that the state National Guard has only 53 percent of the dual-use equipment it once had for responding to a storm or domestic disturbance, according to the GAO analysis. But a Florida National Guard spokesman, Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, noted Thursday that the Guard responded to the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes with less equipment and fewer troops than are available now. 'It's not a show stopper,' Tittle said. 'We proved we can respond effectively in 2004 and 2004. We will be there. There is no question in our minds - we've got sufficient equipment to satisfy any emergency management requirements in Florida.'" "Govs worry about depleted National Guard".
"South Florida residents and golf courses were placed under the region's most severe water restrictions on record Thursday, as officials try to cut use by up to 45 percent to offset unprecedented drought conditions." "State strengthens water restrictions as drought worsens".
The Miami Herald editors, sensitive to declining newspaper readership, applaud a terrorist "double standard":
The reason this case has attracted so much attention is that Mr. Posada is not just another Cuban immigrant. To his supporters, he is a genuine hero of the anti-Castro cause. To his detractors, he is a vicious terrorist. To Judge Cardone, he was like any other defendant who is entitled to certain rights under the U.S. Constitution. ''This Court will not set aside such rights nor overlook government misconduct because defendant is a political hot potato,'' she wrote."The U.S. government vs. Posada Carriles".
This is a courageous judge.
Meanwhile, "The proposed Port of Miami tunnel project could be in jeopardy because of questions about one firm's ties to the Cuban government." "Company's links to Cuba could dig port tunnel's grave".
Twenty Years of Wingnuttery
"In its spring 2007 journal, the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute celebrates its 20th anniversary , including a fond look back by founder Stanley Marshall, the former Florida State University president." "20th anniversary of conservative think-tank".
"As legislators prepare to cut county property taxes, some elections supervisors complained Thursday that the state is making counties lend it the cost of special legislative elections that might run into millions of dollars. Secretary of State Kurt Browning said counties always pay for special elections and are reimbursed by the state. But three supervisors said the 13 counties in Senate District 3 might have to wait more than a year for reimbursement because state lawmakers put only a placeholder of $200,000 for special elections in Florida's next fiscal budget." "Counties: Special elections underfunded ".
Florida Progressive Coalition
The Buzz has generated a lot of discussion with this piece:
A blog called the Florida Progressive Coalition, which has an open user-edited "wiki"-type online political library for issues, is reporting that their "Jeff Kottkamp" entry was creatively edited by an anonymous person using a Department of Management Services computer.""Editing Kottkamp".
The mysterious editor used a computer registered with DMS, according to the blog's archives, and deleted negative information about the state's lieutenant governor. The Florida Progressive Coalition blog is reporting that they filed a complaint with DMS.
DMS confirmed they received a complaint.
"The Legislature had a chance to make things better this session, by approving a requested $18 million to fund programs that help with the transition out of foster care. Instead, lawmakers allocated a paltry $1 million. They should vow to do better next year." "Florida sends foster teens into world without lifeline".
"Cooperation is Better than Conflict"
"Last year it seemed impossible for the Department of Children & Families to reduce the growing number of mentally ill inmates waiting months for court-ordered treatment. ... The crisis had come to a head in November. A Tampa judge fined DCF $80,000 for ignoring court orders to place inmates in treatment facilities, and former DCF Secretary Lucy Hadi resigned. Although she repeatedly had asked for more funding to increase the psychiatric beds available for inmates, Ms. Hadi's requests never got past the governor's office." "Cooperation, funding a winning combination".
"If there's a will": "The new administration also proved what should be obvious: Cooperation is better than conflict. Every kindergartner learns that. It's too bad it took the state of Florida so long to figure it out." Our "Jeb!" never did figure it out.
"Four journalists who covered the botched Angel Diaz execution have been subpoenaed to testify in another Death Row inmate's challenge to Florida's lethal injection practices." "4 reporters subpoenaed over execution notes". See also "4 reporters subpoenaed".
"'For much of his political career Charlie Crist, the new Republican governor of Florida, was seen as a bit of a lightweight.'" "Crist Jolly Good, British Mag Says".
Cream Rises to the Top
This is what GOPers mean by a meritocracy? "Membership in President Bush's inner fund-raising ring can have its benefits. Boca Raton developer Ned Siegel was named Thursday as Bush's choice to be ambassador to the Bahamas." "Ah, Bahamas".
"The Florida Democratic Party may get an extension to the extension it already got to tell the national party how it will select delegates to the 2008 national convention Original deadline: May 1. New deadline: June 1. New, new deadline: sometime this summer." "Democratic quandary over presidential primary drags on".
Is this nomination some kind of a bad joke?
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Thursday that he has put a hold on the nomination of President Bush's choice to head the nation's Consumer Product Safety Commission."Hold On".
Nelson said Michael Baroody had worked against consumer protections as a lobbyist for manufacturers. ...
Baroody is vice president and the top lobbyist for the trade group National Association of Manufacturers.