Check out the Florida Progressive Coalition's "Action Alert: Save The Florida Forever Program". Our review of today's Florida political news and punditry follows.
"Facing strong opposition, Florida Democrats on Monday abandoned plans to hold a do-over presidential primary with a mail-in vote and threw the delegate dispute into the lap of the national party." "Florida Democrats abandon plan for mail-in primary redo". See also "Florida Democrats scrap revote idea", "State Dems scrap second vote", "Party leaders abandon mail-in", "Florida Nixes Mail-In Revote", "Florida Democrats scrap revote on Obama-Clinton" and "Florida Democrats nix primary 'do-over'".
With this, Florida Democrats "threw the delegate dispute into the lap of the national party." "Florida Democrats kill plan for primary revote by mail".
"Thurman said the party would focus on appealing its loss of delegates to the Democratic National Committee's Rules & Bylaws panel." "Florida Democrats try to find compromise to seat delegates".
A side show: "Even as state party leaders nixed plans Monday for a Democratic primary revote, a pair of Hillsborough County party officials pressed forward with a court challenge. A three-judge panel for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments that Florida Democrats have been unfairly stripped of their voice in choosing a party nominee. The judges offered a skeptical ear as to whether they have any role in settling the matter". "Florida Democrats' delegate battle aired in court". See also "Appeals court hears Fla. arguments".
Raw political courage
"Florida voters will have a chance in November to approve an across-the-board property tax cut averaging 25 percent, which would dwarf two other tax relief measures enacted over the past year." "Panel puts 25 percent property tax cut on November ballot".
"Voters will get to decide in November if they want to cut their property taxes by an average of 25 percent and swap them with a penny sales tax increase, state budget cuts, closing sales tax loopholes, or relying on growth." "Florida residents to get say on property taxes".
"One of the biggest tax cuts in state history is headed for the November ballot, after a powerful state commission voted Monday to put an amendment before voters that would scrap most of the portion of local property taxes that goes to schools." "Property-tax proposal could give South Florida big savings". See also "Florida to vote on property-tax cut in November" and "Voters to decide record tax cut".
The St. Petersburg Times takes a detailed look at the issue with this "special report": "The next round of cuts".
"Economists estimated that doing away with the required local effort will create a $9.3 billion hole in education funding. " "Sales tax plan would cut property taxes but fall short of paying for schools". At least Floridians don't have to pay that oppressive intangibles tax any more.
"From mounting a major offensive against Fort Lauderdale's mayor to winning county protections for transgender residents, South Florida's gay community wants politicians to know: We're here. Get used to it." "Gay political clout growing".
Gotta problem with that?
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Two Polk County lawmakers who support CSX Transportation's plan to sell the state 61 miles of track for commuter rail and move its Orlando freight yard to Winter Haven stand to benefit financially from the deal hatched largely in secret over the last few years." Who are these bright lights?: State Senator J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, the "president and chief executive officer of Atlantic Blue, a land management company that recently bought a warehouse and distribution business along the CSX line", and House Speaker pro tempore Marty Bowen, R-Haines City" "Yet Another CSX Complication".
"A ballot proposal that would have loosened class size reduction requirements failed Monday, but the state's tax commission agreed to keep it alive for a possible revote next week." "Proposal to loosen class size limits fails, will be reconsidered".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Faced with a historic decline in tax revenue, a prudent response by the Florida Legislature would be to rely on every available option to mitigate the pain: responsible spending cuts, modest use of reserves and new revenue. Instead, the focus so far is solely on cutting spending. If legislators are so determined to slash their way to a balanced budget, they should show Floridians soon what that spending plan would look like and give everyone time to digest it."
While House Republicans are repeating tired antitax rhetoric, their Senate counterparts sound more candid. Senate budget chief Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey, has distributed charts that show what a $2.6-billion spending cut could look like. It would not be pretty. Distributing the pain proportionately, education would be cut by more than $1.4-billion and health and human services would be cut by more than $680-million. These are hypothetical, but they offer a serious look at the devastating consequences of a narrow-minded approach to balancing the budget."Expose budget cuts to light of day".
Perhaps this sort of clear-eyed approach will jolt legislators into reality. If they are so determined to avoid raising new revenue, they should draft spending plans as early as possible that detail exactly how deep the cuts would have to be to balance the 2008-09 budget. Let those gutted budgets sit out in the sun for a week or two for all to see.
That should be enough time for Floridians to smell something rotten in Tallahassee and demand better.
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Crist should know better. He has been involved in Florida politics long enough to know that the Legislature's 20-year binge of anti-crime laws and new prison construction is wasteful and counterproductive. Yet the governor last week vowed to stay the course with crime-and-punishment policies that are costly and inefficient." "Prison policies in need of an overhaul".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Today is Florida Forever Day in Tallahassee, but there's nothing permanent about Florida Forever. So, environmental groups are urging Gov. Crist and the Legislature to reauthorize the state's land conservation program, which is set to expire in 2010, for another decade. " "Extend Florida Forever".
Joel Engelhardt: "Palm Beach County residents and politicians may have thought that they still had some control over whether the Everglades Agricultural Area will be converted into a major rock-mining region, but the state acts as if the shift is inevitable." "Everglades mining on fast track".
"Though Florida has been aggressive about recruiting research institutes with state dollars, it has several hurdles to overcome before private investments start flowing freely, experts agreed during a bioscience conference Monday at Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce." "Private investment still distant for state biotech".
"The Palm Beach visit is expected to raise about $762,000 from 49 donors, an RNC official said. Bush is expected to raise about $685,000 earlier in the day in Jacksonville." "Bush expected to drum up $1.4 million in Florida tour"
It will be "a historic and ominous" day
Mike Thomas writes that "those who run the business side of newspapers are slashing bodies, slashing news pages, slashing travel, slashing just about everything they can slash."
In the golden years, back when we operated on a 25 percent profit margin, firing up the First Amendment lawyers wasn't a big deal. We filed lawsuits just to prove a point."Future is cloudy for newspaper's watchdog role".
Those days will end.
Our cash-strapped corporate offices will ask whether it is worth $10,000 to see a report from the Mayor's Task Force on Wastewater Tertiary Treatment Options. ...
Not helping matters is the incredible shrinking newsroom. Newspapers have fewer reporters, meaning it's hard to spare any for a treasure hunt in the governor's filing cabinet. And the Watergate generation that reveled in such stuff has been taking buyout packages. ...
As we grow weaker, this will embolden the forces of secrecy.
They will put up more roadblocks and try to pass more laws sealing records. They will not let us see the report put out by the Mayor's Task Force on Wastewater Tertiary Treatment Options.
Nobody will notice the day we walk away from that fight. But it will be a historic and ominous one.
All is forgiven
The wild eyed liberals on St. Petersburg Times editorial board endorse a Black Republican who all-of-a sudden realized he was a Democrat: "Rouson for state House District 55". A little background here: "Florida Black Republicans".
"Restitution proposal mocks the wrongly imprisoned"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "It took Florida many years to admit that it had mistakenly incarcerated several men for crimes they didn't commit. The advent of DNA evidence forced the state to face that reality, and they finally approved a law that gives inmates access to scientific testing that might help establish innocence. But the state is still dragging its heels on the issue of restitution, forcing each exonoree to go hat in hand to the Legislature. Wilton Dedge, who spent 22 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, had to make the rounds in 2005. Allen Crotzer, exonerated in 2006 after being cleared of two rapes and an armed robbery, did the same in 2006 and 2007 -- and still hasn't been compensated." "Piling on injustice".