Well ... Maybe the Reagan Part
Laff riot: "As the leading Republican presidential candidates prepare to converge on Orlando for the Florida GOP's 'Presidency IV' weekend Oct. 20-21, state Republican chairman Jim Greer shows little interest in downplaying speculation about Charlie Crist getting tapped as someone's running mate. In fact, Greer sounds ready to nominate Crist for Mount Rushmore." "GOP boss: Reagan, Lincoln and Crist".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Here's a flash from Florida's insurance agents: Coverage from the state-run insurer isn't perfect. Gee, thanks. And the alternative would be ... ?" "Imperfect, and essential".
Florida's Booming Economy
Florida's dirty little secret, well at least one of them:
Almost four in every 10 jobs in the state are in fields known for moderate pay — retailing, education or health services, and government, according to July figures from the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. Across all industries, Florida has proportionately fewer positions in high-paying management than the rest of the nation."Other measures don't paint a bright picture of Florida's economy. "
The state also continues to lag in how much it pays workers. The average employee made $35,820 last year compared with $39,190 nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
By population, Florida is the fourth largest state, yet 19 other states have a higher per person income than Florida, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the U.S. Department of Commerce. And there's the wage issue. ..."Growing economy not producing high-paying jobs".
Florida's wages long have been below national averages. But because it was a preferred place to live and the cost of living was about equal to or sometimes below the rest of the nation, people were willing to accept low wages.
All that began to change around 2003, says University of Florida economics professor David Denslow.
"What's happened is house prices have risen so much — and apartment rents to some degree — more than the rest of the Southeast and the Midwest," he said. "We have now become a high-cost state with high amenities."
The "Peoples' Governor" at Work
"For all of Gov. Charlie Crist's talk about how 'the people' run the Capitol, it was clear that last week's debate over auto insurance was being run by groups of lobbyists with gang-like nicknames ... ."" "People absent in battle over no-fault insurance".
A Long Story
"To understand how Florida Democrats tumbled into purgatory over their presidential primary, it helps to go back to April 2003, to the Washington office of Michigan's senior senator." "Florida's primary problem".
Isn't Charlie Fab
John Kennedy and Aaron Deslatte:
In one week, Gov. Charlie Crist demonstrated the power the chief executive holds over state lawmakers when they are gathered under his pulpit in Tallahassee."Despite 'lightweight' image, Crist adept at flexing power".
Unlike Gov. Jeb Bush -- who sought to beat his enemies down with superior intelligence [sic] and brute force -- Crist prefers to schmooze. And for a leader who has long battled a "lightweight" image, Crist in recent days has proved effective when he throws his weight around.
Michael Mayo: "The state released the latest draft of a proposed 25-year gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida last week, but it didn't include the most important thing: the amount of the state's cut. And the proposed compact has a disconcerting number of escape clauses that could allow the Seminoles to stop paying the state while still offering Vegas-style slot machines, blackjack and baccarat at its seven casinos." "Tribal compact could be crapshoot for Florida".
"Florida's Democratic and Republican parties will have major events this month in Orlando, designed to rev up their bases heading into the state's presidential primary election just three months away. But one thing will be missing from the Democratic rally: presidential contenders." "Political events are like night and day".
"Florida's Twisted Tax Structure"
The Tampa Trib editors are a bit on the optimistic side today:
It's time to stop playing games with Florida taxpayers. Offer them clear choices and they'll vote for the fair, modern tax system the state deserves."Voters Must Help Straighten Florida's Twisted Tax Structure".
One game is the Legislature's current attempt to patch over inequities in property-tax laws by hiding from voters the loss of the Save Our Homes tax cap for new buyers. A judge was right to kick the question off the ballot. What will happen next is uncertain because lawmakers can't decide if they dare risk telling voters the truth.
Even if the proposed "super" homestead exemption is rewritten and approved by voters, additional reform will remain essential. Florida tax laws are in such a mess that they're hurting the state's economy.
Will property taxes "drop like a rock" as Good Time Charlie promised? "State lawmakers gave cities and counties an out: Local governments could pass tax rates higher than those dictated by the Legislature with a supermajority vote of their council or commission. ... [Also, a] growing number of cities are turning to fees for added revenues without raising taxes." "Property-tax cutbacks won't extend to everybody".
Yet Another Fine Jebacy
"Five years ago, state Sen. Ken Pruitt sounded a dire and prophetic warning about Florida's future."
"The sales tax must be reformed if it is to meet our needs in the years to come," Pruitt warned fellow lawmakers as he called for sweeping changes to the tax system."Slim tax base intensifies budget woes". Ah ... yes, another fine mess courtesy of the delightful "Jeb Bush and a cohesive business lobby".
The plan Pruitt embraced in 2002 would have lowered the statewide sales tax rate from 6 percent to 4.5 percent and expanded the sales tax base to include billions of dollars worth of tax-free professional services.
It was an audacious move. After all, many of the services Pruitt and fellow Republicans said should be taxed were used by wealthier people - everything from accounting to safe deposit boxes, dry cleaning to charter fishing boats.
The idea, launched only months after the 9/11 attacks had bruised tourism in Florida, failed miserably under fierce opposition from Gov. Jeb Bush and a cohesive business lobby, who called it a back-door tax increase.
Now, five years later, Pruitt, a Port St. Lucie Republican, is president of the Senate and in the midst of a special session to trim more than $1-billion from this year's budget - and at least that much next year.
Beth Reinhard - "The ever-spiraling conflict over Florida's Democratic presidential primary has come to this:"
When 3,000 Democratic activists from the Hispanic-rich state gather in Orlando later this month, Bill Richardson -- the only Hispanic contender -- will be about 955 miles away in Michigan. Talking to Arab Americans.As for the AAI,
Richardson is going to the Arab American Institute's annual leadership conference. That wouldn't be news -- except for the fact that most of the Democratic candidates signed a pledge to boycott Michigan and Florida for running roughshod over the national party's carefully staged primary calendar.
The big-state jockeying so infuriated four smaller states anointed to have the earliest primaries -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- that they goaded candidates into the boycott.
The powers-that-be in the four states made one exception: for the Arab American Institute. And in an only-in-Florida coincidence, the AAI gathering is the same weekend as the Democrats' annual convention in the nation's biggest battleground state. ...
Richardson is the only candidate who has agreed to attend so far, but others are expected. The candidates seem so panicked about upsetting the four leadoff states that they're even balking at sending their spouses to Orlando.
the persistence and savvy of the group's founder, James Zogby, brought it K-Street respectability in Washington. Zogby serves on the Democratic National Committee and works with his brother, well-known pollster John Zogby. Before the 2004 election, the Democratic contenders and a representative of President Bush all courted the group."Democrats making some strange choices".
One can't help but wonder if Zogby's well-honed powers of persuasion softened kingmakers in the four early states, whom Florida Democratic Chairwoman Karen Thurman once referred to as a ''selfish, four-state alliance of party insiders.'' The Democratic leader in the Florida Senate, Steve Geller of Hallandale Beach, called them ``terrorist, rogue states.''
The Palm Beach Post editors: "State Republicans slammed together property-tax reform in a matter of days. They tried to right an off-kilter system with tax caps and a poorly conceived constitutional amendment. They acted as if real-estate values would rise forever." "Values down, taxes up? Yes. Don't make it worse".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board - while more circumspect than the "Jeb!" dead enders at the Orlando Sentinel - are nevertheless drinking the high stake testing kool-aid:"It's far too soon to declare victory - especially when Florida lawmakers are still prowling for a $1 billion budget cut - but recent math and reading results indicate that efforts to narrow achievement gaps are paying off." "Signs of progress".
"Now, near the top of the menu of options, and a favorite of South Florida lawmakers from both parties, is 'portability' — granting Florida homesteaders the right to transfer the important tax protections of the Save Our Homes clause of Florida's constitution from one home to another."
"[Portability] is the biggest thing we can do to restart the market along with finding a way to help first-time home buyers," said Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller, of Cooper City. Since the debate began on how to rewrite the rules for taxing Florida real estate, Geller said he has received "thousands" of letters, many complaining that the existing system bars them from moving or others from buying their home."Property tax solutions explored; Gov. Crist backs portability option" (brackets original). More: "Rubio ready to give up on tax amendment".
Geller has been working with Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, a former classmate at Florida State University, to make portability an ingredient in whatever alterations to the property tax laws the politicians in Tallahassee agree to. And it may work — though in the past, top Republican lawmakers have questioned whether portability would violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection. Crist, who has promised Floridians to make their property tax bills drop "like a rock," wants state legislators to meet again in special session before the end of October to come up with another approach on property taxes that could be put to voters in January.
Live ... From Estero ... The 911 Show ...
Rudy scrambling for Florida's wingnut vote: "Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani charged Saturday that Democrat Hillary Clinton has failed to state clear policy goals for dealing with the Iraq war and Iran's nuclear ambitions. The former New York mayor, in an hour-long town hall meeting in southwest Florida, continued his attack on the Democratic front-runner, also calling her out for proposing what he says amounts to socialized medicine and a recent proposal to send a savings bond to every baby born in the United States." "Giuliani says Clinton is unclear about policies on Iraq war, Iran".