It seems Charlie is trying to have it both ways.
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "More than 750,000 Floridians are out of work. Nearly 2 million are dependent on food stamps, many for the first time. One in five lacks health insurance. And the construction and tourism industries -- the state's economic mainstays -- are suffering."
But even as he vowed to work with Democrats and protect the Floridians suffering the greatest need, Crist's speech contained subtle but contradictory overtones. He promised to use "more than $12 billion" in federal stimulus money over three years to immediately shore up public schools, healthcare and businesses."Floridians await solutions in perilous times".
Florida could actually receive as much as $14 billion, however -- the governor is already planning on turning some of the federal money away, most notably in the area of health care for children in low-income families. And Crist glossed over his plans to use budget money to fill existing potholes in the budget, a strategy which Atwater correctly noted would put the state in worse shape when the stimulus payments dry up in 2011.
"Crist ... tried to deflect criticism from some state and national Republicans about using the federal stimulus money, which Democratic President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress approved. ... Crist, in his annual State of the State address, urged Republicans and Democrats to work together as they deal with a reeling economy that has caused unemployment and housing foreclosures to soar, businesses to close and tax collections to plummet." "Gov. Crist sees hope even in bleak times". See also "Crist at odds with own party on using stimulus to prop up budget".
"To jump-start the Florida economy, Gov. Charlie Crist pushed federal stimulus money in his third annual State of the State address." "Gov. Charlie Crist: We must spend to jolt economy". See also "Gov. Charlie Crist's brief State of the State pitch: use federal stimulus".
Lost little RPOFers
"The Republican Party of Florida paid $1,300 for 40 sextants that Senate President Jeff Atwater gave out Tuesday morning to help his members navigate troubled economic waters." "Senators receive sextants to find way in tough times".
"The Republican governor called for propping up Florida's budget with $12.2 billion in federal stimulus money, casting it as a moral duty even though the massive spending plan veers from his party's core belief in limited government."
The ideological tension within the controlling party in Tallahassee reflects the GOP's broader struggle as it tries to find a compelling voice on the outskirts of power in Washington."Republicans are trying to find a voice and a direction".
Will it come from rock-ribbed conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, who said he wanted President Barack Obama's economic agenda to fail to prove the folly of big government? Or does the party's comeback rest on moderates like Crist, who are eager to accept a helping hand from a popular Democratic president, even if it means expanding the federal government's reach?
In a state where so many people have lost their jobs, homes and life savings, the GOP's traditional message of personal responsibility may be a tougher sell.
Charlie's vision thing
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "With Florida staggered by a still-deepening economic recession, an unusually somber Gov. Charlie Crist delivered a State of the State address Tuesday night that acknowledged the financial crisis but offered little vision for addressing it." "Strong in tone, weak in substance".
- "Today at the Florida Capitol".
- "Live updates from Tallahassee: 2009 Legislative session".
- "2009 Legislature roundup".
- "The Florida Legislature opens its 2009 session Tuesday with the usual pomp and circumstance and an unusual task for conservative Republican lawmakers -- spending billions in federal economic stimulus dollars without violating their oft-stated principle of supporting smaller, leaner government." "Florida Legislature opens session".
- "Facing a grinding recession and the worst budget crisis in nearly a decade, session convened on a somber note." "Atwater warns spending will be put under a microscope".
- "First up: Legislators to look at gambling and sales tax exemptions".
- Charlie's magic trick: "Crist: No tax hikes or budget cutbacks".
- "Florida Legislature kicks off session under cloud of economic worry".
- "Legislature 2009: Lawmakers must piece together the state's next spending plan".
- "Florida Legislature convenes today, faces budget battle".
- "Florida nurses fight for prescription authority".
- "SunRail pulls into Florida Senate once again".
- "Lawmakers begin difficult mission with annual AIF reception".
- "Reagan accepts the whip as Fla. Legislature opens session".
"Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards announced Tuesday she will run for the 12th Congressional District seat as a Democrat in 2010." "Lori Edwards Declares For Congress".
"A competitive race with well-known candidates and possible primaries on both sides is developing for the U.S. House seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow."
The district, which crosses from Polk County into Hillsborough, has long been a Republican bastion, but it's one Democrats think they can win."Competition Heating Up Race For Putnam's Seat".
They got some encouragement Tuesday when Lori Edwards of Winter Haven, the county elections supervisor, announced she'll run.
Some Democrats have been hoping she would take on Republican former state House member Dennis Ross of Lakeland, who announced last week.
But both may have primary competitors.
State Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, is considering and will decide after the state legislative session ends May 1.
And Democrat Doug Tudor of Riverview, who ran against Putnam in 2008, said Tuesday he'll run again.
Edwards appears to be the Democrat Republicans are most worried about.
See you in Havana
"A bill that would ease restrictions on travel to Cuba has opened a rift between President Barack Obama and the Senate's only Cuban American Democrat." "Cuba bill opens Obama-Menendez rift".
State of the State
"State of the State: Crist offers 18 minutes of optimism, realism". See also "Crist tells legislators, people and their needs come first" and "Gov. Charlie Crist's State of the State address — full text".
Stop the madness
The Miami Herald editorial board: "It's a stretch, but some Florida lawmakers are blaming the state's growth-management and environmental laws for the recession. Their logic? If we had just made it easier for builders to drain wetlands, increase density, expand subdivisions well beyond established residential areas and ignore environmental-protection laws, our economy would be in clover. ... some legislators propose changes that read like a laundry list of developers' pet peeves."
"One measure would allow counties to opt out of having the state Department of Community Affairs review their growth-plan amendments and developments of regional impact." "What caused the recession? Wetlands".
A lawyer for "$8 an hour"?
Surprising words from The Tampa Trib editors:
No one wants to see the return of the day when Florida businesses were bombarded by crippling workers' compensation claims. But reforms adopted by the Legislature in 2003, as the state Supreme Court found, went too far."Leave Alone Court Finding On Worker's Comp Reform".
If lawmakers try to undo the court's measured ruling, as some aim to do, they could strip injured workers of their constitutional right to legal representation.
Saunders by a nose
"In an unusually close vote, Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, was selected as the next House Democratic leader." "Key West Democrat to be House leader".
"The proposed Central Florida commuter train rolls into its first Senate hearing Wednesday with a full contingent of supporters and likely passage onto the next stop." "SunRail faces first hearing in Senate Wednesday".
Mike Thomas: "Use stimulus cash for state's even rainier days".
At the trough
"Monday was a lucrative day for legislators as they received a steady stream of $500 checks from lobbyists." "Cut-off day for campaign checks brings bounty to Florida legislators".
"Republican House leaders have called on Obama, who campaigned on a no-earmarks pledge, to veto what they call a 'pork-laden' bill -- though Democrats point out that some 40 percent of the requests were made by Republicans."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, secured $6 million for renovations at Naval Air Station Key West, but voted against the spending bill when it cleared the House last week, calling it a ''huge bill that goes way beyond its original intent.'' The bill boosts spending for many federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation."South Florida wish lists could face test in Congress".
Ros-Lehtinen said last week she believes it's important to secure funding for local projects like cleaning up the Miami River, but added, ``it would not be wise to vote in favor of a huge bill that goes way beyond its original intent even though the funding for these local projects are included.'' ...
Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart also voted against the bill but secured funding -- from $600,000 for Hialeah's police department to upgrade equipment to $6 million for the University of Miami's William Lehman Injury Research Center.
"Florida cannot miss this bet"
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "A deal struck last year between the Seminole Tribe and Gov. Charlie Crist to expand gambling in the Seminole Nation casinos is, however, an invigorating boon for the state of Florida. It's a deal that the Florida Legislature should hasten to endorse so it can move on to governing decisions that are far less obvious and beneficial to the state." "Ratify the compact".
Scott Maxwell: "No new toll roads? Fine by me".
Running government like a business
"Looks like former House Speaker Marco Rubio was half-right, half-wrong about who would win the mega-contract to control the overhaul and concession contract along the Florida Turnpike." "Look who won the Turnpike contract".
Try seceding ... there's always 'Bama
"Pensacola shouts. Will Tallahassee hear?".
Small government types need not apply
"The planned rebuilding of Interstate 595 is giving renewed hope to unemployed South Floridians who covet the thousands of jobs the $1.79 billion project is expected to generate." "I-595 project to create jobs".
Please, no Blago jokes
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie Greene can resign, but she doesn't get to anoint her successor. That power rests with the governor, and he should not let her dictate the choice."
Commissioner Greene, who supposedly wants to meet in Tallahassee this week with the governor, says that she is contemplating retirement because of health issues, although she said that she has not had a recurrence of breast cancer. She wants state Rep. Priscilla Taylor, D-West Palm Beach, to fill her term until a special election in November 2010. Commissioner Greene could argue that because she won her District 7 seat in November by an overwhelming margin the seat is hers to assign. She could say that if the seat doesn't go to Rep. Taylor, she won't resign."Crist gets call, not Greene".
"Space Day in the Florida Legislature couldn't come at a more difficult time, with lawmakers facing a budget crisis and leaders in both chambers critical of the state's efforts to retain and attract the industry." "Space Florida under fire at Capitol".
"The University of Florida doesn't advertise it, but a few times a year people call about having their ashes spread on the school's football field." "Gators ask legislature for gravesite permission".
"Not a penny for Jenne: Disgraced Broward sheriff denied pension".