"Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami is planning to declare his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, becoming the first candidate to enter the race triggered by Republican Mel Martinez's retirement in 2010."
Meek, 42, who succeeded his mother in Congress in 2002, would be Florida's first black senator if he wins. If he loses, he will have given up a politically secure seat in Congress while his party is in control. Meek is also a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the only Florida Democrat on the influential Ways and Means Committee."Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami plans to run for U.S. Senate".
At dKos: "FL-Sen: Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) to run for Senate".
Recall that Meek "led the effort to put class-size limits in the state constitution". "Fla. Rep. Meek to announce run for Senate".
Adam Smith calls him a "charismatic 42-year-old former state legislator and Highway Patrol officer". Many of us remember him for "holding a sit-in in the office of then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2000, and leading John Kerry's Florida campaign in 2004."
"Democratic state Sen. Dan Gelber is likely to enter the race next week, and former Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio is expected to announce soon, too." "Meek to enter Senate race".
"No ... smart planning, good governance, or creative thinking"
"The $2.8 billion of cuts in state services, raids on Florida's cash reserves and increases in traffic fines are a painful signal of far bigger spending reductions." "Cuts, fines painful sign of Florida's fiscal future". See also "State budget deal cuts schools, health care and leaves $400M in the bank" and "State leaders borrow $700 million from tobacco endowment for budget relief".
"Florida lawmakers continued to meet Tuesday in the special budget-cutting session, but they will take no budget action. Instead, their focus will be on hearing reports on how to stimulate the state economy, getting updates on the state deal to buy U.S. Sugar land for Everglades restoration and hearing the attorney general weigh in on an Indian gambling compact" "Florida Legislature to hear reports on state economy".
The Miami Herald editorial board:
The plan for closing a $2.3 billion gap in the 2008-09 state budget proceeded along two tracks last weekend -- one of political ideology, the other of economic expedience -- and is headed for an early vote on Wednesday. If approved, the budget recommendations -- which include cuts, borrowing and reductions in programs and services -- will fulfill the one goal of the special session: producing a balanced budget."Not so special legislative session".
So at least give legislators credit for doing their job. However, they deserve no praise or plaudits for smart planning, good governance, or creative thinking. And they certainly don't deserve any commendation for seizing the moment of an extraordinarily massive recession. They are blowing a chance to begin the difficult job of addressing Florida's revenue flaws and improve our state's chances of surviving future economic crises.
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "It is regrettable that the Legislature's plan puts the state in a position that goes directly against all financial wisdom: that is, buy low; sell high." "Pulling together is the only way out of this mess".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Crist and legislative leaders have made much of the fact that, during the current special session on the budget, they have kept their promise not to raise taxes. But at some point, whether the Obama administration comes through with a stimulus or not, Florida's political leaders must understand that their blind no-taxes promise is less important than keeping promises to give Floridians adequate health care and education." "An unhealthy budget grab".
The Orlando Sentinel's Aaron Deslatte: "With Florida near the top nationally in lost construction jobs and home foreclosures, state lawmakers are taking a $190 million bite out of a pot of money intended to build low-rent apartments and moderately priced homes."
More than half of the $2.6 billion in budget savings legislators scraped together for a final vote Wednesday comes from borrowing and sweeping up money that's sitting in "trust funds," accounts dedicated to a variety of state projects and policies."Poor take a big hit in state's raid of 'trust funds'". The Tampa Trib editors call it "An Easy-Way-Out Budget".
Some $70 million will be taken from a fund intended to fight insurance fraud and support the state fire marshal; state conservation land buys will be frozen until at least July 1; $6 million will be diverted from radios for law enforcement.
Florida's affordable-housing trust fund -- created in 1992 to generate annual money for low-income housing and named for the late legislator William Sadowski -- stands to take the biggest whack: $190 million.
Back at the ranch, "Crist May Veto Part Of Budget-Deficit Proposal": "Crist hinted Monday at a possible veto of part of the Legislature's budget-deficit package because of its education cuts."
The Maitland housewife tries his hand at "Sorting stimulus' wheat from chaff is impossible task".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Barack Obama will start strong in this part of the state if the president-elect makes and keeps three promises: to sign a national disaster insurance plan into law, to make Everglades restoration part of any economic stimulus plan and to name a United States attorney who will keep ferreting out public corruption in Palm Beach County." "Wanted: A tough prosecutor".
"Seems only yesterday McCarty was an upstanding citizen, a virtuous activist speaking out for her Delray Beach neighbors. The wunderkind who was first elected in 1987 to the Delray Beach City Commission at age 32. Today she's a disgraced politician who allegedly used her position to financially benefit herself and her husband." "Ralph De La Cruz: Politicians can't forget their reasons for serving".
"Florida has a long history of doing education on the cheap"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Teaching always has been a tough and sometimes thankless job. Now, with a faltering economy and deep budget cuts, the job in Florida's public schools has gotten tougher. ... thousands of Florida teachers are begging through Internet charities for basic classroom supplies, such as books, construction and copy paper, markers, collage materials and glitter. Is this any way to run a public school system that aspires to be great?" "Begging shouldn't be part of teaching".
On Monday, there was a "statewide Dropout Prevention Summit hosted by the Department of Education in Clearwater, Fla. For two days, parents, students, administrators and advocates will work together to brainstorm ideas to solve a dilemma families are facing nationwide: How to keep a child in school." "Fla. students, leaders discuss dropout prevention".
"The state's safety net is strained"
"[W]ith Florida unemployment at 7.3 percent and expected to climb to 8 percent by summer, the state's safety net is strained. In the past 18 months, state officials received 500,000 applications for food stamps, an increase equivalent to the entire food-stamp roll for the state of Massachusetts." "Workforce boards look to Crist for help".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "To help ease the early voting jam, state Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, is proposing an expansion of early voting sites and hours. His bill, filed last month for the March session, is a good start but it doesn't go far enough." "Early voting, early start".
We don' need no stinkin' unions
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board writes today that "Sixteen percent of Volusia County adults under the age of 65 lacked health insurance as of 2004 -- in Flagler County, 20 percent of that same population was uninsured. The ranks of the uninsured have almost certainly increased since the last time Florida officials compiled health-insurance statistics.". "Speak out on reform".
"A Senate GOP leader said the potential vendor who helped craft Gov. Charlie Crist's legislative proposal to help small businesses should not be allowed to bid on the contract." "Lawmaker blasts potential vendor who crafted small business plan".
"South Florida Water Management District staff today counseled against layoffs or a tax increase, despite the dour economic outlook and plans to spend an unprecedented $1.34 billion in a land deal with U.S. Sugar Corp." "Water managers hope to avoid layoffs, tax hikes".
"High on the list ..."
"The promised federal stimulus plan is on a state Senate panel's agenda. The Select Committee on Florida's Economy is set Tuesday to discuss priorities for Florida's use of the federal money, if and when Congress acts on the plan being pushed by President-elect Barack Obama. High on the list will be replacing $700 million to be borrowed from the state's tobacco settlement endowment as part of a budget deficit-elimination package up for a final vote Wednesday in the House and Senate." "Fla. lawmakers discuss federal stimulus plan".
The "Pal" is in town
"Five months after Republican Sarah Palin used a Florida speech to first publicly paint him as an unrepentant terrorist and a 'pal' of Barack Obama, William Ayers on Monday encouraged a group of Florida State University students to become politically active." "1960s radical's talk ignites FSU protest".
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Taxpayers shouldn't be paying for politicians' travel".
"The Miami suburb of Hialeah has earned a dubious distinction: Forbes magazine included it among America's 10 most boring cities." "Hialeah among 'most boring cities' on Forbes list".
Just say no
"The state insurance commissioner Monday again denied State Farm Florida's proposed average 47.1 percent rate increase for homeowner coverage against hurricanes and other property losses." "Florida again denies State Farm increase for storms".
"Low turnout at South Florida's pro sports games might not be a new thing. But now it's the economic downturn that's stopping cash-strapped fans from cheering on their teams in person." "Empty seats at pro venues? Blame economy".