"Layoffs of state workers. Shuttered driver's license offices. Fewer seats in prekindergarten classes. Parole for more nonviolent criminals. Less help for injured manatees."
Hundreds of cost-cutting measures will be considered by state legislators in coming weeks as they carry out the largest one-time budget cut in years, and the third cut in six months, in response to a downward spiral in revenues that pay for much of the state government's overhead. ..."New cuts on the horizon".
Nearly two-thirds of state spending falls into education and human services, so it's impossible for lawmakers to save money without major cutbacks in those two areas, even though those programs also have the most forceful advocates.
Kudos to the St. Petersburg Times for powerfully juxtaposing the headline "New cuts on the horizon" with this image. We can be a bit more graphic, and so we will.
How a government spends tax dollars reflects the values of a society. Does the "value crowd" in Tally really want to further abdicate its stewardship of Florida's natural resources, particularly when Bushco, now that there is no political reason to pretend to give a damn about Manatees, has turned its back?
"Florida's manatees are in trouble. Last year was the worst on record for deaths: 417 out of an estimated 2,812 animals died in 2006, most after being hit by boats.
Despite a steadily increasing mortality trend, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering reducing protections for these gentle animals by downlisting the species from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Florida has already downlisted manatees on its state-wide endangered species list, even though state officials admit that the population could drop by 30 percent in the next three generations."
"Can a Jewish candidate from the northeast [Philip Levine] with no local political background and who grew up in Hollywood and Miami Beach win a slot that has been dominated by Cuban Americans for the past 12 years?"
''No,'' said local pollster Sergio Bendixen, who is working with Hillary Clinton. ``It's very difficult for a non-Hispanic to get elected countywide, especially for a position as important as mayor.''"Businessman eyes challenge to Mayor Alvarez".
Levine has been feeling out downtown's business elite and has hired Keith Frederick, the Virginia-based national pollster who propelled Alex Penelas to two terms as Miami-Dade's mayor.
Levine, a big donor to the Democratic National Committee, said he needs to look no further than this year's Democratic ticket to feel winds of change.
But are they winds that can sway Cuban voters in Miami-Dade?
Levine would tailor his campaign after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2001 victory, in which the billionaire spent $73 million out of his own pocket to get elected.
Hey Lincoln, Mario ...
... here're your hats, what's your hurry? "Hopes tempered as Cubans wait for post-Fidel changes".
Even the Tampa Tribune editorial board knows that "Book Banning Won't Help Students Learn".
"U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek touted legislation expanding health insurance for poor kids in late October when he joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Liberty City clinic, praising the push to help children."
That same month, Meek joined other Democrats to assail Republicans who were blocking the measure, taking to the House floor to charge that 616,000 kids in Florida would go without healthcare because of GOP opposition."Meek's ties to health bill, cigar maker raise question". And then there's that stuff about
But behind the scenes, Meek, a member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee, helped Miami cigar maker Jorge Padron get a private meeting with top House Democrats -- including Pelosi -- so Padron could lobby against the higher cigar taxes that were proposed to partly offset the cost of expanding the program.
Months later, Padron hosted a $1,000-per-person fundraiser for Meek at his company headquarters in Miami.
"Jeb!" dead enders sulking
The St. Petersburg Times noted yesterday that
the April National Review has a Crist profile (headline: " 'He's no Jeb Bush.' Charlie Crist — ambiguous conservative, potential vice president") featuring a laundry list of reasons why conservatives might distrust Crist, including his prochoice past, his support for restoring felon rights, global warming initiatives, his being described by Democrats as among "the best Democratic governors Florida's ever had," and his handling of the property insurance crisis in Florida."Not all in GOP are wild about Crist".
The economic anarchy of capitalist society can drive even the finest amongst us crazy: "Gulfstream International Airlines, which contracts with Continental to provide the PBIA-Tallahassee [air] service, tried to accommodate legislators and those doing business in the capital by flying 30-seat planes to Tallahassee during the legislative session instead of the usual 19-seaters. But Gulfstream President David Hackett said one of the airline’s eight 30-seat crafts has been late getting out of the shop for scheduled maintenance, thinning the fleet and leading to the scheduling problems." "Lawmakers steamed about Tally flights".
Albert Einstein explained why he "espoused socialist ideals" in the famous essay "Why Socialism":
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.(By the way, did you know Helen Keller was a socialist as well?)
Anyway, perhaps our Legislators - who have apparently forged bipartisan consensus about the plane service between South Florida and the state capital - can resolve the airline "economic anarchy" thing by socializing airline service to Tally. Charlie, like Helen Keller and Albert Einstein, is not offended by socialism* ("'He socialized our state's insurance market,' state Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland"); perhaps Charlie should bring air travel to Tally in house and solve the problem?
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* That "People's Governor" thing has a vaguely commie ring to it, like the "Peoples Republic of China", etc.
Property tax swap
"A ground-breaking $9.6 billion property tax swap headed for the November ballot is the perfect solution for an aging government system that will always trail the demographic trend." "Proposed property-tax trade: Deliverance or downfall?".
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "The problem with the Commission's plan — and it's one that should doom it in its current form — is that it shortchanges education. The additional sales tax is projected to raise just under $4 billion, less than half of what would be lost. The rest of the difference is estimated to be covered by rising state revenues as the economy picks up." "Education gets short end again".
Grubbing for dollars
"An invitation to a fundraiser for the reelection of U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart Monday night reads like a who's who of South Miami-Dade politics. Being held at the sprawling Redland home of former Miami-Dade County Manager and one-time Homestead Mayor Steve Shiver, sponsors include a prominent bank president and an insurance agent, as well as the city's vice mayor and a city councilwoman. But the printed invite didn't sit well with one named sponsor -- Shiver's sometime rival Steve Losner. He asked that his name be removed." "Rival of ex-county manager declines invitation".
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Last week, Florida Power & Light Co. killed plans to build three wind turbines on a publicly owned St. Lucie County beach - just hours before county commissioners had scheduled a vote to oppose the project ... Now the utility can move forward with plans to build six 40-story windmills on its own oceanfront land near the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant." "Can wind farm work?".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "If we've learned anything from the history of Florida's university system, it is that state lawmakers love nothing more than to use higher education for their self-interests."
In the 1950s, it was Sen. Charley Johns, who conducted a witch hunt for communists and homosexuals on college campuses in a decade-long reign of terror. In 2001, then-Gov. Jeb Bush and leading lawmakers dissolved the Board of Regents to develop programs that served their egos and self-interests."To Grow Support With Legislators, UF and FSU Offer Jobs As Rewards".
Thankfully, voters stood up and created the Board of Governors in 2002 to give the university system direction and oversight.
Now comes a new crop of lawmakers who want to repeat history and once again change the governance of the university system and public education.
But this group isn't simply snooping for subversives or hoping to name buildings after themselves. They're looking for something even more self-serving - jobs.
And politically savvy [sic] university presidents are happy to comply.
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: " Among the harmful potential cuts: ending substance-abuse treatment for prisoners ($26 million) and ending transitional release programs that help inmates reenter society. Florida already has too many ex-offenders re-offending; 43 percent of prisoners were incarcerated before or had violated their probation. As a 2006 task force that examined the re-offender problem concluded, cutting money for drug courts, pretrial intervention and other effective programs that steer addicts to rehabilitation only will result in more repeat offenders. Sixty-five percent of the state's inmates and 57 percent of the offenders on probation have drug problems." "".
Drinkin' that FCAT Kool-aid
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida's tough education accountability standards have made a difference in the lives of thousands of children by forcing schools to improve." "Our position: Building on FCAT to make schools more accountable makes sense".
RPOF wet dream trifecta
Wingnut RPOFer Sen. Mike Fasano, "an investments vice president for Morgan Stanley", wants Florida out of the retirement business. "Fasano wants state out of retirement business". Fasano is on his way to the RPOF wet dream trifecta: Florida has already achieved the distinction of lowest state employee pay in the nation ("Florida ranks last in pay for state employees", so the RPOFers only need to do two more things to complete the trifecta: (1) effect Fasano's plan to eliminate public employee defined benefit retirements, and (2) that last, juicy piece of the puzzle: eliminating public employee health insurance*.
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*Of course, there really isn't much public employees can do to complain when people of this caliber are appointed to lead the agency in charge of protecting employee collective bargaining rights.
It looks good in newsprint
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "Across Florida, 3.8 million people lack health insurance."
The governor has said that providing affordable health insurance for uninsured Floridians constitutes a top priority for his administration, and for that he deserves praise.But the governor hasn't yet honed in on a plan that would give Floridians the kind of assurance they need."A statistical portrait of uninsured Floridians shows exactly where emphasis is needed. Roughly 80 percent are working-age adults. "
And most of them do work, though their jobs tend to be low-paying, sometimes part-time. Uninsured children tend to live in households with at least one working adult.Ah, yes ... Florida's booming job market ... thank goodness Floridians have to bother with
Crist proposes to somehow persuade private insurance companies to offer a policy for $150 a month for these individuals. But health experts across the state warn that such a policy would not cover many of the benefits people expect from any insurance policy. Most policies currently available in that price range cover examinations and low-cost generic medicines -- but not hospitalization or advanced diagnostic tests."Flawed plan".
Musta been a tuff job interview
"Former state Rep. Gus Barreiro, the lawmaker who led the charge to shut down boot camps after the death of Martin Lee Anderson, will start a new job Monday at the Department of Juvenile Justice. New department Secretary and former House member Frank Peterman has hired Barreiro as the new chief of residential operations and quality improvement." "Ex-lawmaker starts job in juvenile justice".
"About 100 deputies break up Palm Beach County flea market fight".
"A year after making sweeping insurance reforms, Florida lawmakers are divided about whether to keep pushing for lower homeowner premiums or allow them to start inching up." "Lawmakers split over insurance".