Well ... if you must sin ...
Aaron Deslatte: "Florida's fiscal conundrum is due at least in part to its reliance on a single tax."
The sales tax is the state's single-biggest source of revenue, and it's taking the biggest pounding as the economy slides. Sales taxes on tourists and residents alike are expected to account for 78 cents of every $1 state government brings in this fiscal year.And the lazy solution to all this?
When sales-tax collections were soaring earlier this decade, there were few complainers. In fact, legislators were pushing two years ago to cut property taxes for homeowners by making state government more dependent on the sales tax.
Republican legislative leaders acknowledge they are rethinking their opposition to the 2007 deal between Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida to add table games and Las Vegas-style slots at seven tribal casinos. The deal is in limbo after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the governor had to get legislative approval."Can 'sin' taxes be a savior for Florida's ailing budget?".
Including money the state has already banked but not spent, ratification by legislators could net the state nearly $300 million over the next 19 months.
And though it is far from their first choice, the breadth of this year's $2.1 billion budget deficit and the expected $5.8 billion hole in next year's budget has spurred discussion of increasing the cigarette tax.
Crist twice told reporters last week he was "not warm and fuzzy" about the idea, but refused to rule it out.
That's because it's the most politically palatable of the taxing options.
BTW, what does Deslatte mean when he writes that "Another $356 million in taxes on business investment won't get collected"? Why not?
As for the gambling thing, "[t]his is what happens when governors exceed their authority. Crist cut the deal allowing expanded gambling by the tribe without involving the Legislature. Lawmakers sued, and in July the state Supreme Court struck down the compact because the Legislature did not approve it. By then, the Seminoles already had added table games in South Florida. Now they are pushing further by expanding in Tampa." "In gambling fight, Florida outplayed".
Randy Schultz says sin taxes ain't nearly enough: "Smokers can't bail out Florida". So nice of him to remind us that "a sin tax is the last refuge of politicians who don't want to annoy people with money or face the big issues."
Every study shows that the less money Americans make, the more they smoke. So a higher cigarette tax wouldn't bother most of the businesses and lobbyists who finance political campaigns. If legislators began talking about a higher tax on single-malt Scotch you'd hear a lot more complaining from people who matter to Tallahassee.Well said.
"Jeb!" declares himself a "bold" fellow
"This truly is a laff riot - the dope who has made a career "trading on the family name" via "injudicious entanglements with questionable characters and enterprises" is now whining about a
flawed study published in Health Affairs Web Exclusive and a misleading Tampa Tribune editorial questioned the progress made in the implementation of Florida's bold reform and the wisdom in continuing it.When a wingnut like "Jeb!" is complaining about the The Tampa Tribune editorial board, you know he's in serious trouble.
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "On Tuesday, Florida has the chance to take a major step forward toward energy independence. That's the day the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission votes on Gov. Charlie Crist's common-sense proposal to make cars run cleaner."
Don't get the impression that Florida is breaking new ground here:
Crist's proposal is modeled after California's clean-air standards. Twelve other states have adopted the standards, and six more, including Florida, are considering doing so."Cleaner Florida Cars Make Good Sense".
"$2 billion budget hole"
The Jebacy continues ... "With Florida foreclosures skyrocketing and unemployment rising above the national average, lawmakers are scrambling to plug a $2 billion budget hole as the economy continues to spiral." "$2 billion state-budget hole looms".
Flash in the pan
Poor Charlie, he doesn't even rate a mention in "In the Red Corner ..." over at Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, a piece last week about "to whom might the GOP look for leadership during their wilderness year?"
To make matters worse, the GOPer bright lights who are discussed include geniuses like Haley Barbour, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mark Sanford, Tim Pawlenty, Virginia's 7th District Congressman Eric Cantor, former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, and other assorted empty suits, geeks, bamboozlers. Hell, there's even an excorcist.
Yet one of the most vacuous suits of all, our dear Charlie, did not even rate a mention, even in a list including a fool who claims to have engaged in "physical" combat with a "demon" during an "exorcism".
Poor Charlie, he must feel, well ... kinda empty these days.
Stand tall, Charlie, at least you buy your own own (empty) suits, unlike that other empty person ... you know who ...
"Sarah Palin: A digital superstar".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The revised land-purchasing deal between the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Sugar is more generous to the private partner than is generally advisable in a taxfinanced agreement."
U.S. Sugar has negotiated a take-it or leave-it contract that the water-management board can only accept or reject without alterations. For a firm $1.34 billion, the district will buy 180,000 acres of farmland. For its part, U.S. Sugar will continue to farm the land for another seven years, paying rent for only six. The rent is $50 per acre, coming to just over $9 million a year. The company also will pay $21.5 million for environmental remediation.According to the tuff negotiators at the Herald,
the revised deal is much better than the one originally negotiated between the company and Gov. Charlie Crist. For $1.75 billion the district would have bought all of U.S. Sugar's assets -- the land, a railroad, sugar factory, refinery and a citrus processing facility. The district only needed the land -- not the railroad and sugar mill -- which will be an important addition to the Everglades clean-up plan."Sugar deal invests in South Florida's future".
The reality is, as sweet a deal as U.S. Sugar will get if this contract is approved, the long-term benefits to the Everglades ecosystem and South Florida's water supply matter more. If the district refused this sale, years from now we would be looking back in regret at a terrible, costly mistake.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "As the Florida Legislature faces the highest state budget shortfall ever, Ray Sansom has the lowest personal credibility in memory for a new House speaker."
It looked bad enough when it appeared earlier this month that Sansom was given a $110,000-a-year job at Northwest Florida State College* after he steered $200,000 to the college's new leadership institute. The Destin Republican shrugged off the revelation, and now it's easy to see why. He was far more brazen than that."Brazen spending of public's money".
Times staff writer Alex Leary reports the $200,000 turned out to be a preliminary request for the leadership institute that ballooned into $750,000. But that was just the icing on the cake. Sansom's biggest score — at least the biggest one found so far — turns out to be morphing $1-million for a building project into $25.5-million this spring. That's not making sure the local college gets its slice; that's ensuring it gets the biggest slice at the expense of far larger schools.
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*"Northwest Florida State College has just 15,000 students compared to Miami-Dade College's 160,000 students. Its enrollment does not rank in the top half of the state's 28 community colleges."
Not so sunny
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "More than 60 percent of Florida's sheriff's offices, including those in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, failed a recent public records audit by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In other words, they broke the law." "Enforce state's records laws". See also "Many Florida public agencies flunk simple open records test".
"Growth won't pay the bills in Florida".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Votes were cast in Florida's general election at polling sites in Germany, Britain and Japan as part of a small experiment in Internet voting. The pet project of the elections supervisor in Okaloosa County is being touted as a success. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has called for its expansion, but in truth the Internet voting effort was premature and wildly expensive for the relative handful of votes cast." "Slow down Internet voting plan".
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Maybe with a new president, a relatively small group of Haitian immigrants will catch a much-needed break, and help alleviate a humanitarian crisis in that country. President Bush has ignored repeated, justifiable calls for Haitian refugees to receive temporary protected status. Hopefully, an Obama administration won't be as obstinate, and will grant Haitians the same opportunities offered to, again, relatively small numbers of Hondurans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans who have been allowed to stay and work in the United States after natural disasters and other calamities hit their economically disadvantaged countries." "Obama should let Haitians stay temporarily".
"Obama could mean gravy train for Orlando-area rail projects".
This is Mikey's Florida
The Maitland Housewife - who had his nose in Jebbie's derriere for a full 8 years - pretends to be a Democrat for a day: "according to Florida law, gays cannot adopt children because this would be a terrible, ungodly thing."
The hypocrisy is stunning. The state gives these two damaged children to Frank Gill because the social workers know he is a very special man when it comes to caring for kids. He spends four years loving them, repairing them, making them whole human beings."State once turned to capable father figure, now fights him as Dad".
He and Tom Roe did something no heterosexual couple was willing to do. ...
Do you think Gov. Charlie Crist is going to risk offending the Republican moral police over a couple of kids?
Attorney General Bill McCollum's office quickly said it would appeal, cheered on by social conservatives who couldn't hold a moral candle to Frank Gill and Tom Roe.
Nobody would take these boys in 2004. It was Christmas, and there was no room at anybody's inn -- except for the one run by these two men.
They canceled whatever holiday plans they had to take in a sick baby and unresponsive boy. And now four years later, they are preparing to celebrate Christmas together as a happy, loving family.
And if it is up to the state of Florida, it will be their last.
Sorry Mikey: but voting for Obama does not cleanse one of the sin of allowing Florida to degenerate into the Jeb-Charlie sewer Florida now finds itself in.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Pinellas County government has some new hands on the tiller, and there is some rough water ahead." "Earning the public's trust".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board argues that "Puerto Rico's next governor is smart to push for more trade with Florida".
Florida Demands to be "bailed out" yet again
While Floridians express their outrage at the unmitigated gall of Michigan* - and in particular the Big 3 and the autoworkers** - to suggest that the rest of the nation bail it out of its economic woes, Florida is demanding that the rest of the nation ... well ... you know ... bail Florida out: first, by continuing to wipe Florida's low tax derriere via FEMA and other aid every time a hurricane hits; and second, establishing a national cat fund for our benefit.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board reminds us that
When Florida's luck runs out, the disaster will stretch beyond the loss of life and property. A major hurricane would bring economic calamity that would force large insurance assessments and tax increases Floridians would not be able to absorb as they coped with the loss of their homes and businesses."Act before luck runs out".
To be sure, the editors make some good suggestions about state fiscal preparedness for hurricane season, but the persistent claim that low-tax Florida is somehow entitled to federal aid when the winds pick up (via FEMA and emergency aid) and that we are entitled to a cat fund (paid for by, among others, Michiganders), is grossly hypocritical.
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*Rumor has it that these lazy cretins pay state (and in some cases municipal) income taxes, which in turn go to supporting, among other things, an excellent public school system (can you spell UM?). In addition, these taxpayer dollars are used to build and maintain an infrastructure that doesn't collapse as soon as the wind picks up, and can actually withstand heavy snow, rainstorms and blizzards.
By contrast, (low tax) Florida routinely demands that the rest of the nation subsidize (via FEMA and other mechanisms) our low tax status, and attendant inability to take care of itself like a real state, every time "Tropical Storm 'Ewww ... I'm a Gonna PP in my Britches'" appears on the triple super doppler radar screen.
**Rumor also has it that some of these "autoworkers" are actually union members, with pensions (defined benefit plans no less!), health insurance and other Commie stuff. However, and despite the hyperventilating of those who can't get over the fact Florida is no longer a slave state,
average wages for workers at Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors were just $28 per hour as of 2007. That works out to a little less than $60,000 a year in gross income -- hardly outrageous, particularly when you consider the physical demands of automobile assembly work and the skills most workers must acquire over the course of their careers."Debunking the myth of the $70-per-hour autoworker".