Another fine Jebacy: "In the last two years, the number of Floridians on food stamps has increased more than 40 percent to 1.7 million." "Almost one in 10 Floridians on food stamps".
In response, "Crist offers half a proposal to escape the budget crisis". The Palm Beach Post editorial board explains: "Crist's approach to trimming the current-year budget is to put off today's problems until tomorrow."
To make up a $2.3 billion mid-year budget shortfall, it drains reserves and trust funds, adds debt to pay for prisons and slashes spending across the board. It also relies on the dubious proposition that the Legislature immediately will approve the governor's agreement with the Seminole Indians, trading exclusive rights to blackjack and baccarat for a minimum annual payment of $100 million."At it's heart, though, the governor's proposal represents a stubborn refusal to address the problem's core:
declining revenues that call for long-term changes in the state's tax structure. The budget crisis is instead being turned into a justification for deep cuts in state spending. The governor vows to protect already woefully inadequate levels of education spending. That promise perhaps already is too late given prior cuts that have underscored Florida's bottom-dwelling record of spending on education.And here's lil' bit of the much needed assessment of blame for the mess we're in from the editors:
The state would have been better prepared for this day had the people controlling the budget for the last decade - Republicans - paid more attention to the needs of the state than the ideological values of their party. When the economy was flush, Republicans under Gov. Bush managed to eliminate the state intangibles tax, which primarily benefited the rich. Now that times are tough, the state's reliance on the sales tax - and a sales tax filled with exemptions at that - is looking about as smart as investing all its money with Bernie Madoff.Why the timidity? We are where we are because of this "Jeb!" fellow - why is the traditional media unable to lay the blame clearly and forthrightly?
Here's a kewl way to spend tax dollars
"Today, 42,000 Florida students attend private school on the public's dime. ... Last school year, the state gave out a total of $205 million through both programs." "More students get state to pay private tuition".
Back at the ranch: "Florida schools failing to meet federal guidelines".
Sansom death spiral continues
Here's some "investigative journalism" for 'yah: "Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom enthusiastically greeted requests for funds from his hometown college where he now works before steering money its way more than a year before he took the job, according to a review of his e-mails released Sunday."
Sansom took repeated orders from the man who later would become his boss at Northwest Florida State College, a review of the e-mails obtained by the St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald showed. ..."Fla. House speaker sent e-mails in school funding". And get this from the good little Legislator:
In e-mails provided from a public records request, college president Bob Richburg gets responses from Sansom that appear as a subordinate eager to please his boss. ...
Sansom, a 46-year-old Republican from Destin, has been under intense scrutiny from almost the moment he took over as speaker last month. He was also criticized after taking newly elected legislators to the swank WaterColor Resort near Seagrove for a three-day retreat when Florida faces a $2.1 billion budget deficit and its highest unemployment in more than 15 years. Sansom has served in the Legislature since 2002.
In a collection of e-mails reviewed by The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times Tallahassee Bureau, a portrait emerges of Sansom, a rising power in the state capital, as an eager-to-please subordinate to college President Bob Richburg."School has a friend in Legislature". See also "When new employer asked, lawmaker delivered".
In the e-mails provided in response to a public records request, Richburg's many requests for assistance are greeted with enthusiasm and optimism.
• ``I will get to work on funds.''
• ``I will get right on this.''
• ``Just give us the word.''
• ``This looks great! Next step?''
With two sessions to go before he leaves the Legislature, Sansom's dealings are coming under scrutiny as he eschews widespread calls to resign the $110,000 a year job -- which he got on the same day last month he was sworn in as House speaker.
The only thing missing is the explicit: "May I know have my $110,000 a year do-nothing job?"
Meantime, "Sansom draws ethics complaint".
If you vote for RPOFers ...
"Florida's loss of clout in D.C. could prove costly".
You broke it, you bought it
Broder: Congressional Republicans' "shrunken ranks are increasingly dominated by right-wing Southerners who care not what their stance does to harm the party's national image." "Southern strategy backlash".
Back to hell
Alcee hastings: "Deportation flights of Haitian nationals back to Haiti had been suspended in the immediate aftermath of the storms after considerable pressure from congressional offices and local immigration advocates. Many of us hoped that this was a sign that the Department of Homeland Security and this administration were finally taking note of the struggles facing Haiti and recognizing that it would be dangerous and inhumane to send people back to Haiti given the country's current state. Yet once again, this administration has turned its back on our hemisphere's poorest nation by pursuing this dangerous and irresponsible course of action."
While the resumption of deportations is troubling enough, the way in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) went about implementing this change is further disappointing. When deportations were initially suspended, ICE assured me and other congressional members and community organizations that we would be adequately notified should deportation flights resume."Inhumane to deport Haitians".
Yet, when the decision to resume flights was made, Democratic offices were never contacted about the change while Republican offices were -- though those notifications did not come until after deportations had already resumed. Even now, ICE has refused to provide an adequate explanation as to what prompted this sudden change in policy and who made the decision.
Throughout South Florida, hundreds of our constituents are shocked and confused by this abrupt and unexpected announcement. Many are concerned for the physical safety of loved ones who may very well be dropped into life-threatening conditions. Instead of endangering the lives of Haitians, the United States should be working to help Haiti help itself. We should not only suspend deportations to Haiti but also grant Haitians currently residing in the United States Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Grubbing for wingnut votes
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Bill McCollum is hedging his bets in case Jeb Bush decides not to run for the Senate seat Mel Martinez will be giving up in 2010. Ensuring that his name will be in the news [opposed to gambling], Florida's attorney general, who long has had designs on the Senate, has asked the feds 'to initiate a criminal prosecution to put an end to the calculated illegal expansion of Class III gaming' by the Seminole Tribe." "A bad bet by McCollum".
Here they come ...
The Tallahassee Democrat: "Florida 2008: The year in review".
Mrs. K goes to Washington
"As President-elect Barack Obama puts together his administration team before his inauguration on Jan. 20, Kosmas has been busy with a whirlwind of activity to represent the district that covers Southeast Volusia and parts of Brevard, Orange and Seminole counties." "Kosmas gets ready for Washington".
Try: Gay man gets married in violation of state constitution
"What Were Florida's Weirdest Stories In 2008? The List Is Long".
Bill Cotterell: "They're known as "OPS" employees, which stands for 'Other Personal Services,' a deceptively innocuous-sounding term. By choice or by chance, but certainly by design, they are the second-class citizens of state government. ... OPS is supposed to be temporary, but there have been employees working in that job class for years, even decades. " "In tough budget times, expect no mercy for OPS".
Florida GOPers in a tizzy, "After All, He Is Black"
"Down the road: Obama Boulevard in Florida?"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "This holiday season is a good time to recognize a government agency making a real difference in Hillsborough County. Thanks to its work on several fronts, the county's Department of Animal Services has sharply reduced the number of dogs and cats it must put down, and sharply increased the number of pets it places into new homes." "Good for animals; good for community".
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Slow down and look out for manatees as you enjoy the holidays on the waterways".
"This year some of Florida's public officials are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase 'home for the holidays.'"
It's a new crop of double dippers, taking advantage of a loophole in state law that allows them to "retire'' by taking 30 days off and return to work in their old jobs with a salary and a pension. Many also collect a lump-sum "retirement'' payment that can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars."Double dipping rises despite outrage".
At least 25 of those spending December at home were re-elected in November — sheriffs, property appraisers, court clerks and tax collectors, six circuit judges and one state attorney.
None announced their "retirement'' plans before voters cast their ballots, and most have not made any public announcement of the resignation letters they have written to Gov. Charlie Crist.
Oh well: The election and other events "leaves Central Florida with no lawmakers in the top tier of party leadership -- in either party -- in the House or Senate."
"Economy threatens cities' fights vs. homelessness".