"A $2.3 billion hole in a leaky state budget"
"Florida legislators will start the new year in familiar fashion: by cutting aid to schools and other programs, borrowing money, skimming cash surpluses and hiking traffic and court fees to patch a $2.3 billion hole in a leaky state budget." "Legislature to chop budgets for education, other services". See also "Fla. Lawmakers To Cut $2.3B From Budget" and "Florida lawmakers ready to balance budget".
Here's a laffer for yah: "Crist under the gun as Florida legislators head into special session".
As it stands now,
Many Floridians, and certainly state employees, face painful cuts in a session called specifically to deal with lower than expected revenues. Florida law requires the state live within its means and lawmakers are required to have a balanced budget."Their work will also be clouded by the ethical furor surrounding House Speaker Ray Sansom, who took a six-figure job at a college in his Panhandle district where he delivered more than $25 million in last year's budget. The school got much more money than even much larger ones."
"The deepening recession is also increasing demand for Medicaid, unemployment benefits and food stamps, which one in 10 Floridians already receive."
"Fla. lawmakers to cut $2.3B from budget". See also "Florida, this budget session could hurt some" and "Crist cuts spare social services".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Florida must review and adjust its tax policies to fit economic reality. Lawmakers must find ways to add to Florida's revenue sources. Doing anything less guarantees that our state always will be on the wrong side of every economic downturn." "When economy trips, Florida falls hard".
But the Special Session is just the beginning: "Balancing this year's budget will be hard enough during the special session. But when lawmakers meet again in March and April for the 2009 regular session, they will face even bigger headaches."
As they negotiate a fiscal 2009-10 budget, lawmakers could face a budget hole of roughly $4 billion to $6 billion.
"Special session faces deepening budget crisis".
Also, the economic troubles could hit next year's budget in ways that go beyond general revenues.
For instance, local property taxes make up part of the state's complex formula for funding schools. But with property values declining, the state could see a hole of about $450 million next year if a key property tax rate remains the same.
Also, the state has reduced projections for fuel taxes, lottery collections and utility-related taxes. Those sources of money are used for specific purposes, such as road construction, Bright Futures scholarships and college building projects.
And, in the what've you been smoking category: The Tallahassee Democrat: "On the eve of an emergency session called to deal with Florida's $2.3 billion sea of red ink, an issue that has long divided the Legislature is boiling to the top."
The conservative Republicans* in charge are sticking to their no-new-taxes pledge, but a growing number of critics [as opposed to RPOFers of any stripe], some from surprising corners, are arguing that cutting alone will no longer do."Florida's budget outcome is hazy".
Pray tell, what are these "surprising corners? Well, other than a Wal-mart lobbyist (ironically, the company that wants the government to pay its employees health care costs), the otherwise interesting piece is disappointingly short on the promised "surprising corners".
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*Note to alleged journalist, it ain't just the "conservative" Republicans who are sticking to the brain dead no new taxes pledge, they all are - there are no RPOFers at all in the Legislature who are standing up for serious revenue increases (save some oblique blathering from the red corner about poor man sin taxes, and increasing "fees" here and there).
Even the latest Republican Florida's Traditional Media Loves to Love and Love Hard All Day Long (a "RFTMLLLHADL"), one Chain-Gang-Charlie Crist, whom we are repeatedly told is some sort of a "moderate" (apparently because someone told him he needed a 'Glades rep), "is unlikely to join his Republican counterpart from California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in proposing any combination that would include new taxes."
Times uncovers source of all evil
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Lawmakers should look everywhere for cost savings — including curbing their own pension largesse. They should be too ashamed to keep feathering their own nest. " "Stop double-dippers".
"William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said the numbers may foreshadow what the 2010 Census will find, particularly because evidence already shows Florida has lost population to the rest of the United States. 'When you see Florida having a net out-migration to the rest of the country, you know something's wrong,' he said. 'I would go with the bleaker numbers.'" "Exodus from South Florida increasing".
"Starting today, people in the Sunshine State will be eligible to play Powerball, a multi-state lottery with enormous jackpots." "Powerball comes to Florida".
Tax-and- spend governor
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The district has a realistic option to raise more money so it can keep up with its core needs and buy the land. It's called a tax increase. But Gov. Crist, who has engineered the land deal, doesn't want to be tagged as a tax-and-spend governor. Still, the district's current tax rate, at 62 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, has room to rise. An increase to just 80 cents, which the district can do without legislative approval, would add $36 to the tax bill on a $200,000 home and raise about $150 million." "Many risks still could sour deal to purchase U.S. Sugar".
Charlie receives Nobel Prize for Courage ...
from The St. Petersburg Times editorial board for his supposed "willingness to stand up to pressure from within his own party and independently reach his own conclusions." "
Others are a bit less sanguine: "Crist partially has redeemed himself by choosing Jorge Labarga for the Florida Supreme Court, indicating that politics alone will not determine the state's highest jurists." "Justice Labarga, finally".
"Under the proposed legislation, local governments would have the option to waive the fees for affordable housing. If they choose to waive them, the governments would not be forced to build the roads immediately." "End fees for affordable homes, Palm Beach County group urges".
Wouldn't want to anything bad about Saint "Jeb!" ...
... now would we. Florida's newpaper media - cowering in fear of losing their jobs in the next layoff, and never wanting to offend a national political figure and potential candidate - is hard at work preserving Jebbie's reputation these days.
Credit Aaron Deslatte for even mentioning that there are some out there who think Jebbie was something other than superman, writes this morning that "Bush could be blitzed for encouraging Florida's flurry of home overconstruction earlier this decade while he was governor and eroding the state's revenue base with $19 billion in tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy. Too much blind faith in the profit-driven motives of free markets, the Dems will say."
Of course, Florida's traditional media (with few exceptions) gave Jebbie a pass for 8 solid years, repeating garbage like this:
Bush used to relish refuting the policy arguments Democrats hurled his way. Which might be why Florida's ruling Republicans need him so badly now."Florida Democrats think economy hurts GOP, even if Jeb Bush runs".
Read it and weep:
Bush used to relish refuting the policy arguments Democrats hurled his way.The only people Jebbie "relish[ed] refuting" policy arguments to were third tier journalists five minutes out of college who didn't have the cojones to ask obvious follow up questions ... you know, questions like:
Your Majesty ...
Too bad Florida's alleged political journalists didn't ask questions like that - note: in many cases it no doubt was the fault of their journalists' owners, not the journalists themselves, that these issues were never raised or reported (although a real journalist would have quit in those circumstances).
... please do not be upset with me and bar me from asking you or your flacks further questions, and please don't get mad and call my bosses and get me disciplined, and when you run for President (which I dearly want you to do since it will help get me get a job with a newspaper somewhere else) please don't kick me outa the real reporter press bus, and finally, you know, please don't subject poor, pitiful me to the legendary retaliation of Jebco for perceived disloyalty from media retainers ...
... but may I crawl up on your lap and ask you this teensy little thingy ...
... if, you know, Florida eliminates the intangibles tax, and because Florida's economy is largely based on sales taxes and revenues from tourism and agriculture, which is not enough to sustain the state in hard times, how will we pay for basic services provided by state government during hard times?
... sorry for asking ... can I clean your pool now ... or would you rather I spent my time not covering that police report*, and how your son mysteriously avoided arrest for ... well you know?
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*"The police report was leaked to the major newspapers of Florida. None went with the story."
What police report? Why, this one: during the 2000 mess - and this is from David Corn - "Jeb!"'s "son John (aka "Jebby") had been busted by the police a month earlier for having had sex with a bare-to-the-waist 17-year-old girl in a Jeep Cherokee parked at a Tallahassee shopping mall."
Two security officers had come upon the scene — the action was occurring at 10:00 pm — and they called in the police.
Oh, the story did get a bit of coverage elsewhere: See "A Bush in the Hand".
The issue was not that George W. Bush’s nephew was engaged in truly a youthful indiscretion. But according to Artie Brown, one of the two security guards, Jebby spoke to his father-the-governor and then said, "My dad will fix it." And maybe Jeb Bush did. Jebby was never charged. There was a police report filed that noted that the cops had investigated a possible crime of "sexual misconduct." But Sergeant Oscar Brannon, who filed the report, said charges were not pursued because the lustful couple had not been in public view. Brown, though, contradicted that assessment. And in his report, Brannon did note that shortly after he arrived at the parking lot, "I became aware of the political ties" of the male suspect.
The important question is, did Governor Jeb Bush use his clout to protect a son caught not acting in accordance with Republican family values? This is not an insignificant query, for had Big Jeb intervened in any manner it would be an abuse of office.
The police report was leaked to the major newspapers of Florida. None went with the story. So on the final weekend of the campaign — when George W. was working the Sunshine State hard — the only mention of this potential trouble appeared across the Atlantic.
Artie Brown, Sergeant Brannon, care to comment?
"The Florida Highway Patrol said thousands of work boots, bath slippers, tennis sneakers, beach sandals, even pairs of inline skates, inexplicably materialized shortly before 8 a.m. Friday on the busy roadway. Traffic was disrupted for hours."
So, "Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity, is sending representatives to Miami to collect the shoes. The group will distribute the shoes to people in Haiti, according to a news release." "Charity sends mysterious shoes to Haiti".
An example of the problem with Florida's traditional media
The normally sober Mary Ann Lindley writes that "Jim Smith",
Now head of FSU's board of trustees, he remains a calm, reasoned, honorable thinker and lobbyist — amazingly modest despite having the clout to win, hold and succeed in two statewide Cabinet offices."".
Surely she's not talking about this world class liar. That Ms. Lindley could use the
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**Recall the "honorable" Mr. Smith's statewide dishonorable behavior when he ran in the Dem primary against one Steve Pajcic two decades ago. Pajcic was a kid from Jax who went to Princeton, where he played basketball and managed to graduate magna cum laude, after which he attended Harvard Law School and graduated with honors. Not bad for a public school kid who attended inner-city schools in Jacksonville.
In 1974, Pajcic was elected to the first of six terms to the Florida House of Representatives, where he showed particular interest in educational issues and actually worked on crazy things like farmworker rights.
Wikipedia tells the rest of the story:
In 1986 he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida. In the primary election Pajcic slightly led the second-place finisher, state Attorney General Jim Smith; but, as neither had received 50%, per Florida law, a runoff primary was held. During the brief campaign before the run-off, Smith's rhetoric was seen by many as unprecedented in its vitriol for an intraparty contest.If Smith's vitriolic rhetoric weren't enough to forever deprive Smith of beening mentioned in the same sentence as words like "calm", reasoned", "honorable" or even "thinker", dishonored himself forever when,
in a televised debate, the candidates were asked if, should they fail to win the nomination, would they endorse their runoff opponent in the general election against the Republican nominee. Both Smith and Pajcic answered in the affirmative. However, when Pajcic emerged victorious, Smith evaded the issue of an endorsement for several days [something about riding his tractor around his panhandle farm]. "Eventually, Smith came out and openly endorsed the Republican candidate, Tampa mayor Bob Martinez. This split in Democratic ranks was a major contributor to the election of Martinez as only the second Republican governor in Florida history, as even Martinez himself acknowledged in later years."
Smith has since cashed in on his "dishonor" as a "lobbyist"; and RPOFers in the Legislature have been paying him back (via access purchased and sold in the form of "lobbying") ever since.
When alleged journalists like Lindley describe people like Jim Smith as an individual who "remains a calm, reasoned, honorable thinker", we see what is wrong with the traditional media. Lindley and Smith may very well know and like each other, shared cocktails at the Governors Club, and all that; and that is all well and good - but to characterize a man like this, with this record, as a someone who has "remain[ed] a calm, reasoned, honorable thinker" is, well ... dishonorable on her part, and on the part of the Tallahassee Democrat.
Pssst ... maybe they're illegals ...
"Police in the Tampa Bay area say that Hispanic immigrants are increasingly the targets of robberies." "Officials: Hispanic immigrants robbery targets".