The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "They have done the deed, ripped apart and reconfigured a state budget that was antiquated and overrated almost before the ink was dry last spring."
Ending its special session Wednesday, the Florida Legislature balanced its books temporarily and on the backs of children, social services and health-care programs."Farewell to all that". See also "Millions in state budget cuts criticized as short-sighted".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Maybe state lawmakers are saving their best budget-trimming ideas for the regular session of the Legislature, which begins in March. We hope so because the across-the-board cuts in state programs that lawmakers approved Wednesday is a clumsy and painful approach to budgeting. The $1.2 billion in cuts, combined with earlier budget trims for fiscal year 2008-09, add up to annual reductions of 15.9 percent for schools, 11.9 percent for courts, 4 percent for human services and 10 percent for executive and administrative areas."
Florida is spending $300 million to build prisons that it really doesn't need while it makes drastic cuts to education, courts, human services, etc."Budget delivers pain, lacks creativity".
More from The Herald editors: "Crist has some tough choices to make on the $1.2 billion in spending cuts approved by the Legislature Wednesday. Lawmakers took deeper cuts in some areas, education being one, than he recommended, and even slashed funding not targeted by the governor."
The bill heading to Mr. Crist gives him a little leeway to restore some spending while still covering the deficit. Lawmakers included $400 million in nondesignated reductions, meaning that, for example, some education funding can be restored and balanced elsewhere with part of that $400 million."Florida Forever's future cut short".
The governor should use this leeway not just for vetoing some education trims but also for restoring a land-acquisition program that the Legislature just last year unanimously renewed -- only to turn around and assign it to indefinite limbo this year to help cover the deficit.
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board writes today that, rather than local school board officials,
lawmakers are the ones who should be hearing from parents and community leaders. The state Legislature has been shortchanging education for years, first shifting the burden of school funding onto local taxpayers, then hacking at the state revenue flowing into schools. At the same time, they've been increasing demands on school districts for so-called accountability measures and documentation -- a burden borne by the much-maligned "administrative" workers."Opinion - newsjournalonline.com".
Legislators set up local school officials. They increased the property-tax rate required to support classrooms, and left local school boards to take the heat. They cut school funding, and leave local school boards to hear the screams of outrage. Lawmakers are banking on the fact that parents will vent their (righteous) anger on the elected officials closest to them.
"The Senate voted 27-13 -- with Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, the only Democrat to vote in favor." "GOP, Siplin back $900M in cuts".
"Besieged by laid-off workers looking for help, Florida's unemployment system is drawing fire from clients who say the state agency running it can't handle the demand." "Number of jobless bog down unemployment system".
"Plans for an organized gathering in Miami when Fidel Castro dies appear to have fizzled ... Reports last year that Miami was planning an official celebration of Castro's death drew international media attention and some criticism." "Plans for Castro death gathering fizzle in Miami".
"A Massachusetts biofuel company is teaming up with a Florida business to build the state's first commercial-scale ethanol plant, and says it should be up and running by 2011." "Fla.'s first commercial ethanol plant announced".
"Sink is out of Senate run"
"The budget cuts approved this week in Tallahassee hit particularly close to home in west Hollywood, where a much-needed 55-and-older housing project was effectively killed before it could get off the ground. Construction on the proposed 120-unit project, called The Gardens at Driftwood, was to begin in May. But those plans were dashed when legislators took $190 million from the state's affordable housing trust fund -- including $8 million set aside for the Hollywood project -- to help plug a $2.4 billion budget hole during the special lawmaking session that ended Wednesday." "Florida budget trims undercut Hollywood senior housing project".Layoffs
"Scores of probation officers were told that they are losing their jobs Thursday, only a day after lawmakers slashed $1.2 billion in state spending in a special budget cutting session." "DOC announces layoffs".
Spontaneous collective action
"A veteran Miami banker who founded Mellon United National Bank 30 years ago was fired as chairman by its New York parent company, prompting three directors to resign in protest. " "Miami banker's ouster touches off board-room rebellion".
"Crist pays tribute to MLK and Obama".
"Asked his level of interest in entering the U.S. Senate race in 2010, Gov. Charlie Crist said Thursday that it was 'not much.'" "Is Crist Interested In Senate Seat? 'Not Much'".
Background: "Cornyn: GOP is talking to Crist about Senate bid".
Finger in the wind
"Home builders asked Gov. Charlie Crist to veto a $190 million cut in state affordable-housing funds Thursday, saying that "housing will lead us out of this economic crisis" that forced Florida legislators to plug a $2." "Crist non-committal on subject of Sadowski fund".
"This just seems extraordinarily odd"
"Ten months after House Speaker Ray Sansom helped arrange a secretive meeting of his hometown college's board of trustees, the 'minutes' of the meeting suddenly emerged this week."
Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg sent a document to state Sen. Don Gaetz after a newspaper in Sansom's hometown published an editorial urging Gaetz to demand an investigation into whether the meeting violated the state Sunshine Law."'Minutes' from a March meeting with Sansom, Northwest Florida College appear".
"I am enclosing the 'Record of Legislative Update Summary, March 24, 2008,' that will go before the Board of Trustees on January 20, 2009, for approval," Richburg wrote in an e-mail to Gaetz, R-Niceville.
"I find the sudden emergence of these minutes to be curious, at best," Gaetz said in an interview Thursday. "They came out of nowhere. I have not heard from him in more than a year. … This just seems extraordinarily odd." ...
The college did provide public notice, with an ad that was published one week before the meeting, in a newspaper in Okaloosa County, 150 miles from where the meeting would take place.
That was Richburg's idea: "It's probably the only way we can do it in privacy but with a public notice here," he wrote in his e-mail to Sansom.
"Lawmaker wants to put sex back into sex education". See also "'Record' emerges in Sansom-Richburg meeting".
"Make no mistake, the lawyers got their way"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "A group of state trial lawyers dropped its opposition to Central Florida's newly named SunRail project, lifting a key barrier to the most important transportation initiative that's come along in years. Make no mistake, the lawyers got their way. They didn't want the private companies involved with the region's 61-mile commuter-rail system to enjoy state-provided protection from lawsuits, which, of course, make lawyers wealthy. What this could mean are higher insurance costs, which will be passed on to taxpayers. What's more, that'll now be true for other regions hoping to build rail systems, including Tampa and Jacksonville." "Score one for lawyers, but commuter rail still moves ahead".
Golded fleeced award
"They're called ballot boxes, but the containers Hillsborough's supervisor of elections office bought last year are so much more. They have electronic sensors and a motor inside. A special tread is designed to increase capacity. And they cost $1,850. Each." "Hillsborough paid a lot for ballot boxes that didn't speed up the vote count".
"Broward County Republicans plan rally to say goodbye to President Bush.".
... this idiot wants you to know thay "Unions hijacking democracy".
"Five months, three recounts ..."
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Five months, three recounts and endless legal memos after a rare razor-thin judicial election, there's no questioning that the people of Palm Beach County have spoken and threw a largely unpopular judge off the circuit bench. But that doesn't mean that the people spoke well, or in the county's best interests." "State Supreme Court getting last word on judge-elect case is good news".
"Broward teachers rally for raises".
Florida's booming economy
"Region No. 11 in U.S. in lost homes".
"Two Florida fire departments scrambled this week to ditch uniform pants amid fears that the pants' fire-resistant fabric might be poisoning firefighters." "Chemical concerns cause two more fire departments to stop using fire-resistant pants".
"Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty is expected to make her first appearance in court this morning on federal corruption charges." "Ex-PBC Commissioner McCarty, husband, expected in court today".
Meantime, "'ong-time elected officials and seasoned political activists are vying for Gov. Charlie Crist's appointment to the Palm Beach County Commission to replace the disgraced Mary McCarty." "FSU grad, 22, among applicants for McCarty's seat".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Delray Beach has no reason at this point to suspend City Manager David Harden, much less to fire him. But the city commission was correct on Tuesday to seek an outside examination of Mr. Harden's and the city staff's role in bond deals that are at the heart of the Mary McCarty case." "Delray-McCarty connection: City needs all the answers".
Yet more, from Joel Engelhardt, "And now from McCarty?".
"Those who live near the Raytheon defense plant in St. Petersburg aren't reassured by state and company officials." "Officials, Residents Near Chemical Flume Collide".
"Florida politicians swamped with inauguration requests".
"Florida A&M University needs to do a better job of collecting bounced checks, paying bills on time and making sure employees properly use state-owned cellular phones, according to a new report by Florida's auditor general. " "Report: Still room for fiscal improvement at Florida A&M".
"State and local officials are warning drought and wildfire conditions are dangerously high." "Drought conditions expected to worsen".
"$1 for you"
"Facing a $3.5 billion deficit next year, Florida desperately needs all the money it can get. But millions more will disappear because the state has settled a lawsuit that affects millions of motorists." "Driver's license settlement: $2.9M for lawyers, $1 for you". See also "Florida settles lawsuit; drivers get $1 each".
"The city of Winter Haven has filed a lawsuit against its former spring training tenant, the Cleveland Indians." "City of Winter Haven sues Cleveland Indians".