"Florida is still smarting from a governor, Jeb Bush"
The St. Pete Times editorial board:
Florida is still smarting from a governor, Jeb Bush, who treated education as a battlefield on which teachers were often branded the enemy. Worse, that culture of warfare spilled over into the Department of Education, the agency that is supposed to provide professional oversight and support to schools. The previous state Education Board chairman would tell people "we're under attack," as though it inspired him.However,
Bush's political differences with teacher unions were obvious, but DOE used them as a license to discount the views and motivations of all teachers. As a result, policies were often formulated or administered with no sense of their true impact on schools.
the worst Bush legacy at DOE may be the extent to which career education professionals were purged. Within DOE, dissenting opinions were viewed as enemy attacks, and Winn surrounded himself with those he deemed true believers. His polarizing K-12 chancellor Cheri Yecke, who had hoped to succeed him, is one jarring example."Page turned on Bush era in education"."Modest and simple property tax reform"
"State lawmakers appear to be returning to a much more modest and simple property tax reform strategy advocated more than a year ago by then-gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist: Double the homestead exemption and make 'Save Our Homes' benefits portable for those who move." "Simpler Tax Overhaul Proposed". See also ""New session starts today, targets tax-cut amendment", "Lawmakers begin tackling plan for property tax relief", "Lawmakers ready to back Crist's tax plan" and "Lawmakers to vote on billion dollar budget plan".
"Crist dropped plans Thursday to impose new spending limits on city and county governments as part of a proposed $11 billion package of property-tax cuts." "Move by Crist smoothes way for $11 billion tax-cut bundle".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "A new plan to cut property taxes fails to address the inequities in Florida's tax structure and does nothing to help those who have the most reason to complain - Floridians who recently purchased their homes at inflated prices and are taxed at or near market value." "Helping Those With No Complaints Wrong Way To Spell Tax Relief".
The Palm Beach Post editors: "This time, all it took to rebalance Florida's budget was a little juggling. But because of how Florida is changing, juggling alone won't fix the state's financial problems. Today, legislators are expected to approve a plan that would close a $1.5 billion gap in the $71 billion budget they approved last spring. Mostly because of the housing meltdown, sales-tax income is down $928 million, according to Florida TaxWatch. Corporate income taxes are off $428 million, and documentary stamp taxes from real-estate sales are down $140 million." "Legislature's real work on finances still ahead".
The News-Journal editors:
Crist's latest tax-reform proposal doesn't change lawmakers' earlier, misguided focus. It only narrows it, leaving the larger problem with Florida's tax system untouched. That's no solution. The Crist plan, and an even worse plan hatched by House Speaker Marco Rubio, would exacerbate inequities and make Florida a less welcoming place for business, including tourism, whose tax bills will reflect more burdens shifted from those of homesteaded homeowners."Tax-lite plan skirts reform, favors least needy".
Bought and Paid For
"Florida's ailing gambling industry, betting on the Republican-led Legislature to come to the rescue, has anted up $800,000 to the state party in the past three months".
Nearly $600,000 of the GOP haul was delivered to the party within one week in late July, the same time House Republicans held ''Havana Nights'' fundraisers in Coral Gables and Miami Beach. The events featured a yacht cruise, salsa lessons, dinner at the former Versace mansion and personal concierges available 24/7."Since then, House Speaker Marco Rubio has come out strongly against a proposed gambling compact being negotiated by Gov. Charlie Crist with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The proposal would give the tribe Las Vegas-style slots as well as table games, and the state would get a cut."
Rubio's argument -- that the tribe is entitled to nothing more than slot machines -- echoes those made by the parimutuels, especially those in Broward, which say that granting table games to the Seminole gives them an unfair advantage."Gambling industry puts $800,000 in GOP pot". More: "Gambling interests donate $844,000 to GOP legislators".
''Why should we be put in a position of paying taxes to compete with them when we are given a lesser product?'' said Daniel Adkins, president of Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center in Hallandale Beach.
Currently, the tribe pays no state taxes and offers only Class II slots and poker.
Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican who helped organize the Havana Nights fundraisers, which took in $1.4 million for the state GOP, said Rubio's position on the Seminole compact is not linked to the gifts.
''Whether [parimutuels] supported the event had nothing to do with the House having antipathy toward the compact,'' he said. ``There's zero correlation.''
Some call it hypocrisy: "House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, has been the fiercest critic of allowing any gaming expansion. But while Republicans in Rubio's camp frequently rail against the industry, they have also been quick to take its money." "Gaming donors lift GOP".
Lawyers in Love
"Despite her 11-year romantic relationship with a prominent Tallahassee tax attorney and lobbyist, Florida's newest Department of Revenue chief said her agency's reputation won't suffer when she takes the reins next week." "DOR chief says relationship not a potential for conflict".
GOPers "gutting the university system"
The Palm Beach Post editors: "The legislation to be voted today raising tuition 5 percent at Florida's 11 public universities and 28 community colleges, and tying annual increases to inflation, is a start. It is not a solution to the chronic shortchanging of higher education in the state. More typical, it's legislators' attempt to dodge the question of authority over the university system. Perhaps the Republican-dominated Legislature finally has seen how its miserliness is gutting the university system. That's doubtful, given that based on the past 10 years' 1.6 percent to 3.4 percent national inflation rate, the annual increases would be even less than the 5 percent that lawmakers have approved in recent years." "Remedial tuition increase".
"The president will dine with donors who have paid $25,000 to attend the Pinellas Park event." "Bush visits for lunch fundraiser".
"The Florida Republican Party is set to begin what Chairman Jim Greer describes as a major effort to reach out to minority voters, including a planned conference next month in Tallahassee for thousands of black Republicans and independents."
Some black Floridians - even black Republicans - say they've heard before about GOP attempts to become a viable political force in their community, and haven't been impressed."Republicans Want More Minority Involvement".
"Crist Signs No-Fault Bill".
"Hillary Clinton may be unstoppable in Florida and could beat Republican Rudy Giuliani in the general election, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. In Florida, 59 percent of Clinton's supporters are unlikely to change their minds, according to the poll. Many Democrats polled -- 44 percent -- think she has the nomination 'locked up.'" "Poll: Clinton, Giuliani still Florida favorites".
"In cutting college funding this week, lawmakers are blaming economic conditions and the $1.1-billion state budget shortfall. Higher education has been getting what former Gov. Jeb Bush once called budgetary 'crumbs' even when times were good. The very formula the Legislature uses, which bases funding on previous years' enrollment, ignores the cyclical nature of community colleges. When the economy is rough, workers often look to improve their skills to qualify for better jobs. They often do so at a community college. When the open-door institutions are faced with the prospect of closing doors, Florida is shortchanging both its students and its economic future." "Colleges' doors starting to swing shut".
GOPers getting desperate
GOPers are struggling to make inroads with minorities in Florida. "On the plus side" for Florida GOPers:
•Crist, a Republican who chose Greer for the chairman's position, has had unprecedented success with minority voters. Exit polls showed Crist with 18 percent of black votes in last year's election."On the negative side:"
By comparison, Republican Jeb Bush got 14 percent in his 1998 election - considered a record at the time - but dropped to an estimated 8 percent in his 2002 re-election.
•There has been a slow trend in Florida and nationally of black voters gravitating toward the GOP, said University of South Florida political scientist [with a GOP bent] Susan MacManus, who studies demographic trends in politics.
MacManus said blacks remain "the most solidly Democratic vote out there." But some are changing because of increasing black economic prosperity, a corresponding rise in black entrepreneurship and the sizeable number of black voters who favor private school tuition vouchers.
•Republicans still benefit from the highly organized, active Cuban-American community in South Florida - the reason the GOP has long dominated among Florida Hispanics - while Democrats win among Hispanics nationwide.
•Large numbers of Democratic-oriented immigrants from Puerto Rico, Mexico and Latin America are beginning to overshadow the Florida Cuban community. In 2006, exit polls showed Crist and Democrat Jim Davis tied among Hispanics."Mixed Prospects With Minorities".
•Fervent hatred of Fidel Castro, which motivates South Florida Cubans toward the GOP, is declining among younger generations. The climate could change further after Castro dies.
•The recent controversy over immigration, in which Republicans have taken hard-line, anti-immigration stands to please the party's conservative base, has alienated Hispanic voters. Democrats hope for a bumper crop of Hispanic votes as result.
Republican presidential candidates have made headlines this year by declining to attend two Hispanic candidate forums - one held by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Orlando, and one by the Hispanic television network Univision.
And then there is the part where GOPers have spent decades alienating minorities to pick up the White Southerner vote. You know, the GOPers so-called "southern strategy". A few weeks ago, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman observed that, even in the 2006 election, a debacle for GOPers, 62 percent of southern whites voted Republican in House races. Krugman wrote
And yes, Southern white exceptionalism is about race, much more than it is about moral values, religion, support for the military or other explanations sometimes offered. There’s a large statistical literature on the subject, whose conclusion is summed up by the political scientist Thomas F. Schaller in his book “Whistling Past Dixie”: “Despite the best efforts of Republican spinmeisters to depict American conservatism as a nonracial phenomenon, the partisan impact of racial attitudes in the South is stronger today than in the past.”"Politics in Black and White"
That's our Charlie
"Florida’s Crist Works Hard to Spread GOP Liberalism" (via The Buzz).
Killing them softly
"The state Supreme Court is considering the fairness of both the lethal injection process and of keeping secret the identities of officials who carry out the process." "Court weighs fairness of death penalty steps". See also "Death penalty may go on hold".