The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Reality continues to undermine Gov. Crist's fantasy that Florida's doesn't need major tax and spending reform." "As state numbers get worse, the solutions must get better".
State worker pay cuts! What a great idea!
"State employees, who have not had a general pay raise in three years, could get hit with a 5-percent pay cut as Florida deals with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, a major Senate money manager said Monday." "5-percent pay cut proposed for state workers".
"Florida taxpayers could save upward of $304 million if the Legislature cut every state worker's salary by about 5 percent, according to an analysis produced by the state Senate."
Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander confirmed Monday that staffers have analyzed a variety of pay-cut scenarios in order to help legislators figure ways to fill a budget deficit that could reach $3 billion next fiscal year."Florida Legislature studies pay cuts for state workers".
"The change would allow the agency to reach beyond traditional fixed-rate loans into the largely unregulated world of derivatives and hedge funds to secure financing for Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed $1.34 billion land deal with U.S. Sugar Corp. " "Water manager: Financial changes may allow involvement by Wall Street hedge fund manager in U.S. Sugar deal".
"Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater said Monday that he will return a $5,000 political donation he received from a New York politician who is under indictment for alleged influence-peddling. Former New York Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno contributed the money Oct. 28 to Preserve the American Dream, Atwater's political committee. In January, Bruno was indicted by federal prosecutors on eight felony counts of using his office to enrich himself." "Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater to return tainted donation". See also "Florida Senate leader Atwater to return donation from indicted New York politician Bruno".
Begging for dollars
"'Rally in Tally' to support education", "South Florida students 'Rally in Tally' for school funds" and "School leaders point out funding problems to state legislators".
At the federal trough
"Florida has met all deadlines so far and is well ahead of schedule with the submission of a key document needed to obtain billions in federal recovery money, Gov. Charlie Crist's 'stimulus czar' said Tuesday."
Don Winstead provided Crist, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and agency heads with an update on Florida's stimulus progress. He also reported on a stimulus meeting in Washington last week with Vice President Joe Biden and other federal officials."'Stimulus czar:' Fla. meeting deadlines". Related: "Bad economic news holding up stimulus money".
Crist, who has taken heat from some of his fellow Republicans for embracing Democratic President Barack Obama's stimulus plan, said he found amusing Winstead's recollection of how many states attended the meeting.
"I have colleagues that have at least intimated that this money from Washington is not something that they welcome with open arms," Crist said. "Yet 49 out of 50 states show up and get it and the one that didn't show up it was a logistics issue. Noted."
Raw political courage
"Property tax cut proposals could help business owners and others while draining money from local governments." "Two new property tax cuts in the offing". See also "Property tax proposals would cut $1.2 billion in 3 years".
Failed education policy
"The State Board of Education unanimously approved intervention plans Tuesday for closing one and revamping 11 schools with the worst student achievement records in Florida." "Fla. education board focuses on failing schools". See also "State Approves Rescue Plans For Poor Performing Schools".
RPOFers blame Dems for their own incompetence
"For the past six weeks, the House Finance and Tax Council held hearings to review sales-tax exemptions on everything from Super Bowl tickets to satellites, Bibles and even dirt."
But Monday, House Finance and Tax Council Chairwoman Ellyn Bogdanoff, R- Fort Lauderdale, said she couldn't recommend a single exemption that should be eliminated — and she blamed Democrats."GOP, Dems bicker over sales-tax exemptions".
"They have abdicated their responsibility to participate in this process," she said, surprising the council's Democrats and then adjourning the meeting without allowing them to respond
"Growing rift within the Republican-controlled Legislature"
"The Florida Senate's budget chief said that $2 billion in tax and fee increases, as well as cuts to state-employee pay, may be unavoidable to balance a revenue shortfall projected at $6 billion."
But in a sign of the growing rift within the Republican-controlled Legislature, House members are firmly opposed to any tax increase — and they've got the support of Gov. Charlie Crist."State to feel further pinch in pocketbook?".
Crist said Monday that he's "not much" interested in considering taxes, despite a dire 2010 budget estimate by state economists Friday.
RPOFers: Still the Same
Troxler: "Just ask folks in Tallahassee. We've gotten too tough on developers in this state, and we went and caused our current recession."
I know that some people claim the recession was kicked off by the collapse of the national housing bubble and shaky mortgages. But we in Florida know the real reason: too much regulation."Let’s pave more stuff; that’ll fix everything".
Fortunately, our Florida Legislature is on top of this problem this year.
The Legislature understands what Florida needs to do to get back to the good old days, when all you needed to build were a deed and a shovel.
"Gay rights advocates hope Hollywood can step in where Florida political muscle struggled. Flanked by the nephew of Harvey Milk -- the first openly gay city official in California, who was slain in 1978 -- lawmakers and advocates pushed for changes to laws during a rally Monday outside the Capitol. Among other things, the changes would allow gays to adopt children." "Tallahassee rally urges lifting of gay adoption ban". See also "Milk nephew, activists continue fight for equal rights".
"Student government leaders from several of Florida's public universities want Gov. Charlie Crist to hold down budget cuts on higher education." "Fla. student body presidents lobby Crist on cuts".
Just doin' bidness
"Palm Beach County physical therapist charged with defrauding Medicaid".
Chamber embarrasses itself (again)
"City Commissioner Cara Jennings said Tuesday she was protesting the injury of friend when she was arrested Monday outside the Israeli consulate in Miami. Tristan Anderson, 37, of California was protesting the construction of an Israeli security barrier near the West Bank village of Naalin when he was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier, according to The Washington Post."
George Babbitt weighs in:
Tom Ramiccio, president of the Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce and a former mayor, acknowledged Jennings' right to protest but said her arrest is bad for the city's reputation."Lake Worth commissioner says her protest in Miami was personal".
"From an image standpoint, it gives Lake Worth a black eye," Ramiccio said. "It's a sad day in Lake Worth when you pick up the paper and see your city commissioner has been arrested."
The nerve of some people
"His pleas of innocence were ignored by Broward County jurors, who convicted him."
They went unheeded until one of his many letters to the outside landed on the desk of someone who believed he might be telling the truth."Wrongly imprisoned man seeks state compensation".
That someone was the same judge who sent McGee to prison.
Broward Circuit Judge Paul Backman eventually overturned McGee's conviction. The victory, though, came a year after McGee finished serving his prison sentence.
"Enrollment overwhelming community colleges in Fla.".
"Haridopolos offers bill to make it cheaper for cigarette makers to appeal judgments".
"A spreading plague of vacant homes"
Mike Thomas: "Florida is dying from a spreading plague of vacant homes, vacant stores and vacant offices. And up in Tallahassee, the solution offered by legislators is more vacant homes, more vacant stores and more vacant offices." "We're dying from plague of vacant buildings, homes".
"Routinely delay, deny or botch medical care"
"U.S. immigration authorities routinely delay, deny or botch medical care for immigrants in detention, according to separate reports by two advocacy groups released Tuesday." "Groups bash US health care for detained immigrants".