Senate strong-arms Saint Marco
"The House voted 74-41 tonight to accept the Senate changes to their property tax plan and later overwhelming approved placing the proposal on the Jan. 29, ballot. ... The vote to concur with the Senate changes was mostly along party-lines, with the Republicans carrying the majority."
The latest, and likely final, Senate plan would:"New property tax bill passes, now goes to voters". Florida's empty suit in chief is thrilled: "Crist hugs Pruitt and showers praise on lawmakers". See also "Property tax plan bounces to people's court", "New tax plan goes to voters", "House passes new property tax relief ballot proposal", "Tax-reform deal approved", "Legislature's tax-relief plan to go on Jan. 29 ballot" and "Now it's up to you to decide tax cut" ("The Legislature approves a property-tax deal that would save homeowners about $200 a year. Next stop: The Jan. 29 ballot.")
- Increase the homestead exemption for non-schools property taxes to $50,000, by exempting the $50,000 to $75,000 increment in order to protect smaller, rural areas with many low-priced homes.
- Let homeowners take as much $500,000 of accrued Save Our Homes exemption, worth $8,500, at that level, when they move.
- Give business owners a $25,000 exemption, worth as much as $425, on their "tangible personal property" tax on office equipment.
- Cap assessment increases on non-homesteaded properties at 10 percent each year, but only toward non-school taxes.
More: "Here's what Senate staff estimated the proposed tax cuts would do in each county in the 2008-09 year, in dollars and as a percentage of the tax base with current millages." "Tax cuts by county". See also "Ins and outs of property-tax cuts" and "Counties say property tax cuts will necessitate cuts in services".
The Palm Beach Post editors: "Property-tax reform in Florida came down to one day and one reality: The Senate's way or no way." And then there's this gem - in return for a whopping $240:
Education fares worse in the Senate proposal. The increase in the homestead exemption would not have applied to local schools in the House plan but it does in the Senate. One estimate puts the cost over five years at $859 million."Thoughtful tax reform? No, political chicken".
House members spent hours criticizing the Senate. Then they voted to accept everything the Senate approved. Faced with Deal or No Deal, they took the deal. It was a terrible way to make tax policy.
And then there's Marco:
The House's 97-18 vote of approval was more a capitulation to the Senate than it was an embrace of the final package. With a deadline for final action looming and House and Senate leaders at loggerheads, the Senate rushed the plan through its chamber earlier in the day and then left town to avoid further negotiation."Property tax cut emerges from fight". In an effort to keep his name in the limelight (and publicly pout), the term-limited media boy wonder "plans to lead citizen petition".
"Quite frankly, we may have seen the best that this institution - the House and Senate together - can do on this," said an openly disappointed House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami.
"Don't Tase me bro!"
"Criminal charges won't be filed against a University of Florida student who yelled 'Don't Tase me bro!' as he was zapped with a stun gun and arrested after his persistent questioning of Sen. John Kerry at an on-campus appearance, his attorney said Tuesday. But Andrew Meyer, 21, wrote apologies to the Gainesville school, its president, Bernie Machen, and the campus police department, attorney Robert Griscti said." "Fla. student Tasered at Kerry speech won't be charged".
Loophole stays open
"The complex decision about write-in candidates means no changes for state and local primaries next year."
A judge refused Monday to close an election-law loophole that has been exploited by Republicans and Democrats to prevent thousands of Florida voters from casting ballots in state and local races."Judge leaves election-law loophole open".
The complex ruling, eagerly awaited by Florida elections officials and both political parties, disappointed state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, whose nonprofit group, Florida Mainstream Democrats, had financed the test-case challenge in Lake County.
"The decision gives a green light to more write-in candidates, more election shenanigans and for more voters to be deprived of the chance to vote for a candidate of their choice," Aronberg said.
The Tampa Trib editorial board observes that the "slowdown in growth and a correction in housing prices highlight the question posed by a headline last month in The Wall Street Journal: 'Is Florida Over?'" The editors then give us what may be the most unintentionally hilarious editorial in years (please excuse the bracketed snark below). The Trib editors begin by engaging in fantasy, writing that
the magic of the Sunshine State still lives.The mindless cheer leading continues:
Florida is only dealing with the side effects of rapid growth as it begins to mature into an even better home.
Florida is no longer defined by cheap land, carefree living and rock-bottom taxes. It is a big urban state with major-league jobs [sic] and major-league problems. ...
'For Americans on the move,' the Journal concluded, 'Florida has become a less-appealing destination.'
True enough. If you're looking for a cut-rate retirement haven and are happy with mediocre education [sic] and environmental degradation [say what?!?], go somewhere else [like where? Mississippi?].
Today's Florida is determined to better manage its growth, improve its public schools [With a proposed five year $859 million dollar cut to education?] and universities [they're kidding, right?], build better transit systems [we luv mass transit here in Florida]and attract the best [retail and service sector] jobs.The editorial then shifts into Chamber of Commerce nuttiness:
Florida is saving the Everglades, protecting smaller wetlands, cleaning its bays and rivers, and following Gov. Charlie Crist's lead toward greener if more expensive sources of energy.
Consider a few observations in a recent Washington Post article seen by readers in the dreary northeast. It described St. Petersburg as 'getting younger, with hip nights at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club and buff bods playing beach volleyball.Wow ... I want to live there, where "sinewy" people with "buff bods" hang out, instead of someplace yucky like this: "Retirees' dreamland is Republican bastion" or this "new ultra-conservative . . . town". The editors finally go off the deep end with these closing words:
The writer saw 'sinewy cyclists, in-line skaters and runners, punk rockers and avant-garde artists, and post grads on permanent spring break.' The city, the story concluded, gave itself 'a shot of Botox right in its municipality.'
A new conservatism is taking root. Florida is no longer marketing itself to the lowest bidders. It is determined to grow wisely while preserving the best of its manmade and natural heritage."Slower Growth And Higher Costs Will Not Write Florida's Obituary".
Florida may have lost its ambition to give every retiree in the country a place in the sun at any price, but it has never stopped searching for the fountain of youth.
Ah, yes ... Florida's traditional media, the vanguards of freedom, fulfilling the majestic purposes of the first amendment; the constitutional provision that, as Justice Black put it:
gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.Perhaps it is more accurate to describe some of Florida's traditional media as "Champions of Profit, Propaganda and Puffery"?
Early primary mess
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Last weekend, the annual Florida Democrats' convention here attracted only one would-be president -- former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who has trailed 'other' and 'not planning to vote' in recent polls. It was a humiliating snub for Florida Democrats. They can thank their national party bosses." "Unduly punished". Meanwhile, "Sen. Nelson pushing for speedy ruling on primary".
"Gay marriage ban pivotal issue in 2008".
"Republicans outnumber Democrats by 7,661 voters in the district, which may explain why Broward -- where Democrats reign -- has shown very little interest. In early voting, which began Oct. 22, only 12 of 13,000 eligible Republicans in Broward showed up." "Interest is light in primary for state House 101".
"State leaders may not renew a contract with the private agency that oversees abused and neglected children in Pinellas County, calling it a system in crisis."
Caseworker turnover recently exceeded 70 percent and some caseloads surpassed 40 children, according to a draft report by a state review team that examined the Sarasota Family YMCA's operations after two high-profile incidents."Foster care agency my lose contracts". Wouldn't it make more sense for DCF to hire some folks to do this. Sure, they may actually get pensions and (God forbid) health insurance; then again, they might stick around for a few years (say, . . . until they retire) and actually do their jobs. Can't do that, though, because it would be inconsistent with Saint Jebbie spoke "dreamily of a day when state buildings will lie empty as 'silent monuments to a time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill.'"
The Sarasota YMCA, the oldest and largest of 20 private foster agencies in Florida, is now at risk of losing its two state foster care contracts worth $72-million.
The agency, also known as the Safe Children Coalition, operates in Pinellas, Pasco, De Soto, Manatee and Sarasota counties. It was the subject of recent St. Petersburg Times articles questioning its high funding and poor performance and detailing a questionable land deal in which it turned a $475,000 profit in one day.
The office of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is also investigating the property sale.
"State-run insurer will shed many more property owners than expected".
"The eight major Republican candidates running for president will participate in the CNN/YouTube-sponsored debate scheduled for the end of November in St. Petersburg, the Republican Party of Florida announced [yesterday]." "8 GOP Candidates To Debate In St. Pete".