Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Friday, March 28, 2008

The "values crowd" in action

    Florida's RPOFers want to know when these lazy, greedy leeches will get off their asses and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps trust funds, inheritances or fun with daddy?

    "Struggling to close a $3 billion budget gap without raising taxes, Republican lawmakers slashed into dozens of programs serving the poor, seriously ill and elderly." "Florida lawmakers face tough cuts in services for poor, seriously ill, elderly".

    "Nearly 20,000 people with catastrophic illnesses would no longer have hospital care paid for by the state." "Budget cuts take shape in Legislature, health care hit hard".

    "In a move that one Miami nursing-home operator called a return to the ''dark ages,'' Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives want to suspend a state law that mandates how much care nursing-home patients must receive each day." "Staffing cuts weighed for nursing homes".

    "Struggling to close a $3 billion budget gap without raising taxes, Republican lawmakers slashed into dozens of programs serving the poor, seriously ill and elderly." "Florida lawmakers face tough cuts in services for poor, seriously ill, elderly".

    "Florida would stop providing hearing aids and dentures for poor people, limit Caesarean procedures for poor mothers, and eliminate jobs in the state agency responsible for protecting kids from child abuse under a far-reaching budget proposal ..." "'Painful' cuts listed for services for poor".

    "The plan calls for stripping $1-billion from the human services budget for 2008-09, as part of the House plan to cope with a $2.5-billion drop in state revenue. Also lost will be significant federal matching dollars. Among the House's key targets are optional programs under Medicaid, the health care program for poor residents under 65, including children and the disabled who cannot otherwise afford coverage. Lawmakers are considering eliminating all hospice care for 8,000 terminally ill Medicaid patients; hospitalization costs for 20,000 transplant recipients; and diagnosis and care for 2,300 children with cleft lips or cleft palates." "Foster kids, frail seniors among losers in budget plan".

    Update: readers, you can breathe easy, it is unlikely that the Legislature will take up reinstatement of the intangibles tax.

    More from the "values" crowd"

    "More than six working-age Floridians die each day because they don't have health insurance, according to a report released Wednesday by a health advocacy group. The death toll ranks Florida worst among 15 states studied by Families USA". "Florida's death toll high for working poor, report says".

    "Last-ditch chance"

    "The property-tax swap put on Florida's November ballot last week by the Taxation and Budget Commission faces its first test Friday -- over words. The proposal, approved last week by the powerful panel that meets once every 20 years, goes before the commission's Style and Drafting Committee, where it will be edited and its wording finalized as a constitutional amendment. But Florida's business lobby sees the process as its last-ditch chance to kill or weaken the plan to amend the state constitution."

    Lobbyists for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Retail Federation, the National Association of Independent Business, AIF and a host of other organizations have formed a coalition to fight the measure because they fear it will lead to higher taxes on businesses, particularly the possibility of sales taxes on some services.
    "Another word on tax-swap proposal".

    "Earlier this month, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, a panel that meets every 20 years to review tax law, sent a ballot measure to voters asking for the elimination of $9-billion in property taxes for schools. If 60 percent approve, the Legislature would have to replace the money by raising the sales tax, cutting other parts of the budget or by eliminating tax exemptions." "Ostriches keep the tax break". See also "Tenacious tax break lays an egg, but lingers in Florida".

    Pruitt's folly

    "A plan to let voters overhaul how Florida's education system is governed -- and give the Legislature unambiguous control over university tuition -- easily cleared the state Senate on Thursday." "Senate OKs education amendment".

    Civics lession

    The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "One branch of government should not gut another branch of government. Does that matter in Tallahassee? Prepare to find out." "Keep courts functioning, especially in bad times".

    A good point

    Quote of the day: "'If you don't have teeth, it's a big deal that you do have teeth,' said the chairman of the House Health Care Council, Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach."

    Raw political courage

    "With copper prices soaring, so is copper theft, creating power outages, communication breakdowns and other issues beyond the immediate thievery." "House gets tough on copper theft".

    Nelson on fire

    "Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat whose state is embroiled in a presidential primary debacle, said Thursday that he will pursue a constitutional amendment that would replace the Electoral College system with a national popular vote." "Florida's Sen. Nelson: Abolish the Electoral College". See also "Nelson: Abandon Electoral College" and "Nelson still fighting DNC over vote".


    "Critics of Florida's $650-million deal to launch commuter rail in Orlando have taken a new route." They have

    sued the Florida Department of Transportation this week, alleging a 2006 confidentiality agreement between CSX railroad and Florida may have violated state law because it allowed CSX to determine what could be kept secret in negotiations.
    "Secret rail deal prompts lawsuit".

    And we luv you too Bill ...

    "Attorney General Bill McCollum wants Florida A&M University and its police force to get more credit for their response to a shooting in which no one was injured." "McCollum praises FAMU for response to shooting".

    The "latest shot"

    "With scant debate, the Florida Senate on Thursday agreed to ask voters to overhaul public education governance for the third time in 10 years. The measure would reinstate an elected education commissioner and curtail the board that oversees universities." "Senate fires latest shot in college tuition battle".

    "That heavy lifting, however, is not something that political leaders can do for us"

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "But there remains an exceptional amount of work still to be done; more links in the chain that must be broken. Florida lawmakers' official acknowledgment that slavery was a shameful chapter in our history was explicitly intended to 'promote healing and reconciliation among all Floridians.' That heavy lifting, however, is not something that political leaders can do for us. It's our job." "Another broken link: Slavery resolution is important symbolism".

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Our position: Words can't wipe away slavery's ills, but they can bring Floridians together".

    Douple dipping

    "With support from police unions,"

    a bill that would ban "double dipping" by police officers in a popular state retirement program was approved unanimously Thursday by a Senate committee.
    "Panel approves bill to ban double dipping by Florida police".

    "The hydrologic heart" ... we like that

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The state Legislature has rightly invested millions to save the Everglades, the hydrologic heart of South Florida. Now a similar commitment is needed to save imperiled water resources in this part of the state." "Lawmakers Should See Value Of Major Water Restoration Effort".

    There once was a Sierra Club ...

    "Craig Diamond of Tallahassee says some Sierra Club volunteers found themselves blacklisted by Florida chapter leaders in recent years. As a result, he says the group's success in state political issues had become limited." "Sierra Club seeks more inclusion".

    More cuts

    "Rewards for A-rated schools, teachers' classroom supply funds and bonuses for teachers mentoring other teachers will be partially or fully wiped out in a Senate budget proposal that cuts $115.91 per student next school year." "School rewards, teacher bonuses targets".


    The Miami Herald editorial board:"In a year of the steepest budget cuts in Florida history, some state-funded operations will actually get more tax dollars. These would be private-prison operators and prison-construction companies. The Legislature is poised to spend millions of dollars to build two prisons a year for the next five years. The state prison system is near capacity with nearly 100,000 inmates."

    Building more prisons and passing laws that are harder on repeat offenders are often cited by lawmakers to prove their tough-on-crime bona fides. But there is a more cost-effective way to prove you're tough on crime -- prevent it from happening in the first place. Deterrence programs, when applied correctly, work. Yet, incredibly, the state's most effective crime-prevention tool is facing the budget ax. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice proposes cutting all funding for the state's Juvenile Assessment Centers, created by the Legislature in the wake of a lethal crime spike in the 1990s. The JACs are run by counties.
    "Stay tough on crime -- by preventing it".

    Don't trees cause pollution anyway?

    "The Florida Communities Trust program is more than money to buy parks and green space to the secretary of Department of Community Affairs. To him, it's also a velvet-sheathed hammer in managing growth and he doesn't want it taken away. A House proposal to remove the state land-buying grants program from the Department of Community Affairs could hurt the state's growth management program, DCA Secretary Tom Pelham said Thursday." "DCA fights for Florida Communities Trust program".

    "Property-insurance crisis"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Almost midway through the session in Tallahassee, legislative leaders are making more sense than not as they try to get the state and its homeowners to weather the property-insurance crisis."

    That could change, however, if the Senate takes a reckless turn in its worth drive to toughen regulations. It resisted taking one on Tuesday, when its insurance committee kept from its reform package a demagogic call denying the industry allowable profits.

    It could change if the House, seeking to lessen the risk the state took on last year by expanding Citizens and the catastrophe fund, irresponsibly subsidizes the well-heeled industry in an attempt to get it to take on more customers. Fortunately the chairman of the House Insurance Committee, which has yet to pass its own reform package, says he opposes an effort to give the industry bonuses.

    And it could change if Gov. Charlie Crist, who last session urged the Legislature to rein in the insurance industry but this session has done little, doesn't show the leadership needed to keep lawmakers on course.
    "Crist needs to get involved in legislative effort on property insurance".

    Good luck

    "Key state legislators backed away from deep budget cuts to juvenile justice programs Thursday, saying they want to preserve successful programs that keep kids out of trouble." "Lawmakers hope to scale back juvenile cuts".

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