The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Crist's optimism may be infectious. But it shouldn't hide the fact that he's calling on lawmakers to gamble with Florida's future."
Crist's proposed solutions rely too much on high-risk, fiscally imprudent strategies. Some of his priorities are well-placed. Others seem shockingly contradictory. A review of Crist's bigger budget initiatives reveals that the governor has left the Legislature with a lot of work to do.See what they mean: "Crist offers big ideas, risky funding".
"Florida House members balked Tuesday at Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed health-care budget, saying it is too risky because of his reliance on using one-time money from state reserves to pay for programs that need to be funded continuously." "House panel criticizes Crist health plan as risky". More: "Slumping economy means another tight budget for Florida lawmakers".
As Charlie looks adoringly into McCain's eyes
For "the 'send 'em all home' crowd"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "You can almost hear the 'send 'em all home' crowd working themselves into an uproar over a projection showing a tripling of the U.S. Latino population by 2050. ... The study by the Pew Research Center predicts that, 42 years from now, Hispanics could amount to 29 percent of the total U.S. population."Predicted surge in Hispanic population doesn't tell whole demographic story". More: "82% of population growth will come from immigration".
"'Taxation is complicated,' Bense said." 'Ya reckon?
"Arguing that the Amendment 1 property tax cut did not go far enough, members of a powerful commission that has the unique ability to place issues directly on the ballot is moving ahead with a series of deeper property tax reductions."
On Tuesday, a subcommittee of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission debated a measure that would exempt 25 percent of the value of homes as well as nonhomesteaded residences in exchange for a one-percentage-point increase in the state sales tax. It would also place a 5 percent cap on property assessment increases. Another measure would replace $8 billion in school property taxes by eliminating many of the exemptions from the sales tax."Tax-cut plans multiply".
On Monday, the Finance and Taxation Committee approved a cap on the amount of taxes and fees that could be collected by state and local governments. The increases would be limited to population and inflation growth and the cap could only be broken with approval from voters. ...
It's a regular head scratcher
But the difficulty of the commission's task was underscored Tuesday when the Finance and Taxation Committee got bogged down on the intricacies of the two latest property tax plans, leading committee members to delay a decisions on the measures until their Feb. 25 meeting.
"A plan to ask Florida voters to swap school property taxes for an expanded sales tax stalled Tuesday when a pair of economists told a powerful tax commission that the change could cost 53,000 jobs a year." "Sales tax vote postponed".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, has introduced a bill to raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $1. ... Increasing the cigarette tax is worthy of consideration so long as the money is used to help treat indigent Florida residents with diseases caused by smoking. The legislation should specify - and guarantee - that the money will go to the 40 safety-net hospitals that provide 97 percent of the state's charity care. These hospitals are facing a reduction in funds because of the state's gloomy revenue picture." "Increase Cigarette Tax To Help Hospitals".
Rather than tax those things "enjoyed" by those of us with lesser means, wouldn't it be nice to additional sales taxes under consideration, like: a lobster tax, a second SUV tax, a Martini tax, a sailboat tax, a beach front home tax, a scotch tax, a 5BR 5Bath tax, a third car tax, a media room in the home tax, a caviar tax, a ... well, you get the idea.
Why is this Palm Beacher smiling?
Mr. Crist goes to DC
"Crist went to Washington on Tuesday with a list of federal priorities he wants the state's congressmen to address and left with a lengthy list of state issues they want him to consider." "D.C. lawmakers and Crist exchange requests for help".
"The flexibility to add students in excess of class size requirements is one of a number of proposals the Florida Legislature will be considering during its 2008 regular session, which opens March 4."
Other major education issues on the Legislature's agenda include bills that would require teacher misconduct to be fully investigated, expand a voucher program for poor chidren, permit single-gender classes and schools, and ban students from wearing low-slung pants that let their underwear show."Lawmakers seek ways to loosen class size limits as deadline nears".
Perhaps the biggest education issue on the Legislature's agenda, however, will be class size, which has been hotly debated almost every year since 2002 when voters put class size limits in the Florida Constitution through a citizen initiative.
"Trustees weren't told about meetings concerning troubled securities for months"
"Key managers at a government-run fund knew they had a crisis brewing with questionable securities at least two months before they alerted stakeholders or their own bosses, new records suggest." "Fund didn't share worries".
Back to court
"An unheeded warning that the Amendment 1 property tax cut is vulnerable to legal challenge is about to be tested in court. A lawyer for three new Florida homeowners has filed a suit in state court questioning the provision in Amendment 1 that allows people to carry accrued tax savings under Save Our Homes to a new home - a concept known as 'portability.'" "Portability faces challenge".
Whatever it takes
"A former GOP state lawmaker from Pensacola will be the secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday. Holly Benson has spent the past year heading the Department of Business and Professional Regulation." "Ex-GOP lawmaker Benson to lead state health agency".
"Benson led efforts to rewrite the state's Medicaid plan that provides health insurance for the poorest of the poor, a program championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush. The plan involved pilot programs that used flexibility in federal regulations to try and wring more savings from greater use of managed care networks. Not long after coming into office, Crist announced that the experiment wasn't working and would not be expanded to the rest of the state." Remarkably, Benson is more than happy to flip-flop on this:
Benson said today that she agreed with Crist's evaluation."Crist names Benson to head AHCA".
Wild, wild life
"Majestic cranes may make their way here", "Crist visits Washington seeking funds to restore River of Grass" and "Sick manatee rescued from Wakulla".
"Amendment slated for 2008 ballot"
Discussion on gay-marriage ban heats up"".
"Oscar Braynon II, who first plunged into the world of politics at age 15, will go to Tallahassee as the next state representative for District 103 after defeating former Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor in a special election Tuesday. Braynon will fill out the remaining term of Wilbert ''Tee'' Holloway, who left the Legislature in November 2007 when Gov. Charlie Crist appointed him to fill a vacancy on the Miami-Dade School Board. The legislative seat comes before voters again in November." "Miami Gardens' Braynon wins state House race".
Mel waiting for directions from Dubya
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "To bring our nation back into line with international law and our own moral code, some members of Congress are trying once again to outlaw any techniques that meet the definition of torture. A section of the intelligence authorization bill passed by the House, largely along party lines, would clearly and unequivocally bar the use of any interrogation tactic not authorized by the U.S. Army Field Manual by the CIA and civilian contractors."
Whether the field manual provision survives in the intelligence authorization bill is up to the Senate, which is expected to take up the measure in the coming weeks. Senators should ignore President Bush's promised a veto. This is a vote of conscience."A matter of morality".
To his credit, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., will support the measure. A spokesman said that through Nelson's work on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, he has come to the conclusion that using the field manual tactics exclusively is in our nation's best interests and best represents what we stand for.
Mr. Preznit, how high should I jump?
Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, however, has not made a decision. We urge him to draw a clear line between the way the United States comports itself with prisoners and how Fidel Castro does.
The delegate thing
"A prominent civil rights leader [NAACP chairman Julian Bond] has told the Democratic National Committee that refusing to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan would disenfranchise both states' minority communities." "NAACP Head Wants Barred Delegates Seated".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "The Democratic National Committee made a boneheaded decision when it stripped Florida and Michigan of all of their delegates to this summer's national convention. But the time to have reversed course was before Jan. 29, not now." And they have a point.
Now that presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in a tight race for the nomination, some are demanding the delegates won by Sen. Clinton in Florida and Michigan be allowed to count to her total. They argue that not doing so disenfranchises voters."Florida and Michigan delegates shouldn't count".
They are right. The voters are being disenfranchised. But rules are rules, the DNC told us, and having penalized Michigan and Florida for not following them, the DNC must now stick to its guns.
After all, Clinton's was the only name on the ballot in Michigan. How is that an election? And there was no campaigning in Florida. If Clinton, Obama and former Sen. John Edwards had aggressively campaigned in the state, the outcome might have been different. Democratic voters knew going into the polls that the Florida primary was a beauty contest, and its results need to stay that way.
Some are whispering "lawsuit." If that occurs, Florida could be at the center of election controversy again. And we can do without the drama.