Accepting the stimulus cash is all well and good, but Charlie seems to be using much of it to fill in budget holes, instead of job creation. With this manna from Heaven, Charlie can prepare for his jump to the U.S. Senate and leave the mess for his successor, just like Jebbie left this mess for him. Meantime, Florida lumbers on without a mature system of public finance. More: "Charlie's Magic Trick" (scroll down) and "Charlie's 'handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged.'".
"School lunch equipment. Solar energy rebates. New radios for prison guards."
These programs are among the dozens that Gov. Charlie Crist wants to fund with up to $7.9 billion in federal stimulus money over the next two budget years."Spend stimulus now, regret it later, Gov. Charlie Crist is warned". See also "Crist's GOP allies fire at stimulus funds".
Not all of Crist's spending appears to be a surefire way to create jobs or boost the economy. And the Republican governor's euphoria over the federal money is sure to refocus attention on one of his perceived shortcomings in the Florida Capitol -- as a leader more focused on the here and now than on the long term.
For Crist, the $12.2 billion in stimulus money over three years is a massive shot in the arm that he can use to avoid raising taxes ... .
More: "Republican governors continued Monday to express reservations about President Barack Obama's economic-stimulus package even as he urged them to look beyond their differences. Florida Gov. [and putative U.S. Senate candidate who cannot get outa the RPOFer primary if he raises taxes] Charlie Crist needed no convincing." "Governors hear Obama's pitch".
Heaven help us
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Having helped to make sure that marriage in this state is off-limits to gays and lesbians, the Florida Family Policy Council wants to set marriage standards for everybody else in Florida. If the group has its way, some of those standards would be written into law." "Divorced from reality".
"Oooh, that wascally wabbit, Charlie Crist!"
Mike Thomas: "He became Barack Obama's new best friend, severed all ties to the conservative wing of the Republican Party and "
all but took himself out of the 2012 presidential race."For $12 billion, Charlie Crist will hug you, too".
It all makes perfect sense.
Charlie is your buddy when Charlie needs a buddy. ...
Crist faces a multibillion-dollar hole in school funding next year. At the same time, he is pushing for populist tax cuts, which would deplete schools even more.
Federal stimulus money is the only solution. It plugs the budget hole through 2010, long enough for him to presumably run for the U.S. Senate.
When the money dries up, it won't be his problem.
Howard Troxler: "Oooh, that wascally wabbit, Charlie Crist!"
The Republican governor of Florida is in favor of the stimulus bill. He even went on Meet the Press to say so."Gov. Crist displeases GOP true believers". See also "Crist trumpets his support of Obama".
He was actually nice to President Obama in Florida. He stood on stage with him.
He says: "I want my president to succeed."
To which some outraged Republicans are saying, what's wrong with this man?
They sputter. They snarl. They call him a sellout. Even Jeb Bush's son went after Crist the other day.
They question whether his Political Career is Over.
As T-shirt sales jobs dry up ...
"More than 408,835 new recipients were added to Florida's list in the past year, bringing the total in January to 1.82 million and prompting state leaders to look for help in paying for the increase." "Food Stamp Demand Soars As Economy Sours".
"Bill encouraging growth angers environmentalists".
"Mouthful of much obliged"
raised the ire of fellow Republicans for enthusiastically backing the stimulus package, said outside the White House that he's eager for the bill to work."Gov. Charlie Crist goes against Republican tide".
"The guy's right," Crist said of Obama. "I mean, you've got to stay focused on the big picture. Everybody has a right to have their opinion. . . . But we are in an economic crisis." ...
Crist said he would welcome any dollars from states that don't take their entire share.
"We can use it. Florida's a mega-state," he said. "We can always use more roads and more rail."
"'For many it's a life or death situation'"
The "values crowd is at it again. They rubbed their thighs with glee as the intangibles tax was eliminated. Today we read: "Florida legislators are expected to trim services for the elderly, even as demand skyrockets in a weakened economy."
"For Jose Rodriguez, the twice-a-day visits from a home health aide are a godsend. The retired accountant has been caring for his wife, Ana, since 1999, when her erratic behavior and memory loss were diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease. It is the only respite he gets from his round-the-clock job."
''I cannot handle my wife by myself,'' said Rodriguez, 70, of Miami. ``She doesn't walk. She doesn't talk. And she needs two people to move her. Doing it alone is mission impossible.''"Senior programs expect more state cuts".
Rodriguez, however, may lose that help soon. Legislators already trimmed 4 percent of the $13.3 million budget for the Alzheimer's Disease Initiative, which provides in-home help for caregivers like Rodriguez. Legislators trimmed funding for other programs during January's special session cuts, but Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed cuts to the popular Community Care for the Elderly and limited others to a 2 percent trim.
More cuts -- perhaps as much as 15 percent, depending on revenue projections -- are expected when the Legislature convenes March 3.
''This is a tough year. We have less money, so everybody should expect that they'll have less,'' said Rep. Marcelo Llorente, the Republican House budget chief who oversees health spending.
Advocates, however, warn that thousands of Florida's elderly will be left without services, from adult day care to free meals.
''What we have been saying is that you cannot continue cutting these programs without deeply affecting the population,'' said Leslie Spencer, lobbyist for AARP in Tallahassee. ``For many it's a life or death situation.''
The Dems chirp in: "The head of the Florida Democratic Party told local Democrats on Monday they must make sure voters know the human impact of painful budget cuts that will be made by the Republicans in the coming legislative session." "Dems: Budget cuts will affect voters".
Sansom death spiral
"A grand jury resumes its investigation today into House Speaker Ray Sansom's dealings with a Panhandle college that briefly employed him after he helped steer some $35 million in state funding to the campus." "Grand jury resumes investigation into House Speaker Ray Sansom".
"Quietly stepping up negotiations to cut itself in"
"If you can't beat them, buy them. That sums up the emerging dual strategy of Florida Crystals, the most formidable foe of Gov. Charlie Crist's controversial land deal with rival grower U.S. Sugar. At the same time its lobbyists and lawyers are working to derail the $1.34 billion proposal, Florida Crystals is quietly stepping up negotiations to cut itself in." "Sugar shift: Rival seeks a cut in deal". See also "Florida Crystals joins the bidding for Glades acres".
The road goes ever on
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "It’s bad enough Lt. Gov. Kottkamp has charged taxpayers more than $400,000 for air travel the past two years. Now it turns out there is a considerable added cost for his state trooper’s travel." "Kottkamp's commute".
"Storming gun shops for ammunition"
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "It is time for many South Floridians to get a grip. Not on their weapons, but on their senses. First, there was the big run on guns, both locally and nationally, when it was feared the Obama administration would quickly enact tougher gun legislation that would make it difficult to own guns. Didn't happen. And doesn't figure to happen, particularly since the Supreme Court has reinforced the right of an individual to bear arms. But that hasn't deterred some South Floridians, who are storming gun shops for ammunition - particularly rounds for military-style assault weapons." "Hysteria fuels sales of guns and ammo".
"The FBI, which already is looking into the office of former Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson, has opened a parallel inquiry into Johnson's real estate finances." "FBI looking at real estate dealings by former Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson".
"How worried are environmentalists that the Legislature may scuttle Gov. Charlie Crist’s $1.3 billion plan to buy U.S. Sugar and restore the Everglades? Well, it’s the middle of February and there are already campaign-style mail pieces seeking to pressure lawmakers." "“Breathtaking” Everglades mail assault".
Bill Cotterell: "They're lined up like little tin soldiers, 80 uniform pieces of legislation that lawmakers are ready to play with when the 2009 session starts next week." "Legislature's shell bills keep everyone guessing".
"Gelber will bring his take on Tallahassee to Twitter, allowing us a nonstop stream of his musings. Gelber, a Democratic state senator from Miami Beach, is running for U.S. Senate in 2010." "Gelber to tweet session".
"Florida unemployment benefits increasing by $25 a week".
"Don't drop f-bomb on royal visitors"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "We are not amused".
One trick pony embarrasses Florida
"Florida Sen. Mel Martinez lashed out at a Senate report today that there is little evidence to suggest a democracy will soon arise in Cuba's post-Castro era unless the United States changes its own policies toward that country."
Martinez differs with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's top Republican, who contends in his new report that it is time to rethink the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo with Cuba and other policies toward that country."Martinez Criticizes Report On Changing Cuba Policy".
"Contrary to popular myth and public misunderstanding, if President Barack Obama wishes to change the U.S. policy toward Cuba, he has ample authority to do so. If he takes charge of Cuba policy, he can turn the embargo into an effective instrument of ''smart power'' to achieve the United States' policy objectives in Cuba." "Use 'smart power' to help Cubans".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark is working hard to persuade voters to cast their ballots by mail rather than at the polls. But when her aggressive push results in a poorly informed electorate, it appears to be more for her benefit than for the voters or for democracy." "Early ballots deliver frustration".
Exceeding the maximum
"The cost of the planned commuter-rail train through Central Florida appears to have gone up by close to $7 million. The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday opened three bids for the project known as SunRail and discovered that the lowest proposed price was about $165 million to prepare the proposed 61.5-mile line to begin operations in mid-2011." "Bids for SunRail exceed maximum set by state".
"Florida's current base tuition for a standard 30-credit year is $2,461 (though select universities are allowed to charge more.) Under legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate Higher Education Committee, a year's tuition could climb as high as $6,743 by 2013." "For Florida students, hope will be more expensive".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Florida's tuition for attending any of the 11 public universities is the lowest in the nation. That is not a ranking to be proud of when it means the none-too-gradual diminishing quality of the universities." "Budget puzzles".
There's the rub
"Central Florida commuter rail: Who pays if somebody gets hurt?".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board' "series of editorials focusing on the upcoming legislative session". "Legislature 2009: Action Plan".
Previously: "Make ends meet", "Create safer streets" and "Get commuter rail on track". Today: "We think: Lawmakers need to approve SunRail, now more than ever".
"A cash crunch caused by foreclosures is becoming a major problem for many condominium and homeowner associations statewide, according to an advocacy group's survey." "Foreclosures lead to budget problems for associations".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Florida needs to get bad drivers off the roads, and make it stick." "Too many passes in traffic court".
Prepaid College program
"An uncertain future for Florida higher education costs has pushed a landmark agreement between the state's universities and the popular Prepaid College program that both sides hope will keep them fiscally afloat." "Universities and Prepaid College program reach agreement to insure solvency".
Abandon it ... and they will come
"Party causes $75,000 in damage at home".