"Some lawmakers fear that Crist's budget proposal was a warning that any new taxes would be vetoed, an embarrassing result for Republicans who may support such a change this year. Crist has done little to discourage that perception."
Indeed, the man who would be Senater utters abject nonesense like this:
"I think it's fantastic. Are you kidding me? We don't have to raise taxes," Crist said of his budget. "We might be able to cut property taxes some more. ... We can spend more money on our roads and infrastructure. We can provide health care for our people. I mean, it's remarkable.""Crist's tax cut plans could limit options for lawmakers"
"When the 83rd Legislature gathers today, it faces a historic economic downturn that is straining Florida's ability to provide basic services, public education and health care for the poor, to name a few. The cash crunch is so severe that most of the more than 1,300 bills filed by legislators won't go far." "Florida Legislature convenes today, faces budget battle".
- "The Florida Legislature is in session through May 1. The key issues yesterday and what's coming up:" "2009 Legislature roundup".
- "Legislators battle recession".
- "5 to watch: key players and issues"
- "Larry Cretul, House speaker".
- "Jeff Atwater, Senate President".
- "Florida Senate, House leaders discuss issues facing Legislature"
- Here's a brilliant idea from The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "first commit yourself to making government far more efficient." "A letter to Gov. Charlie Crist".*
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* One wonders what these geniuses mean by buzz words like "making government far more efficient"? After all, "in terms of per-capita size and cost, the state work force is both smallest and cheapest in the nation."
"Contradictions in ideology"
"When it comes to taxes, fees and fines, the message from Tallahassee in the run-up to today's opening of the Legislature's spring session appears to be more -- and less."
With the money available from traditional sources expected to plummet by as much as $6 billion, traditionally tax-wary Republicans who control the Legislature have signaled that they're open -- at least somewhat open -- to discussing new sources of dollars."As session opens, tax messages dominate talks".
But, even as they talk about such things as increasing fees and fines, raising the state tobacco tax and repealing sales tax exemptions, lawmakers also are proposing state constitutional amendments that would limit or potentially cut property-tax money for cities and counties.
"This whole thing, it does create contradictions in ideology," said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida.
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "If lawmakers are to help the state meet even its most fundamental duties and responsibilities, they must re-evaluate the way we raise revenues — and it appears that at least some thoughtful members are ready to do just that." "'Fair and efficient'".
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board is worried that the RPOFers running the Legislature might get all crazy on us: "These may be desperate times, but the challenge is to make sure that any new budget-balancing initiatives out of Tallahassee remain measured." "Desperate budgetary times do not call for desperate measures".
"Fantastic or fantasy"
"'It's fantastic. Are you kidding me?'"
Florida’s ever-optimistic Gov. Charlie Crist said 10 days ago when he unveiled his $66.5 billion spending plan that relies heavily on federal and Indian gaming revenue to make it work."With the upcoming retirement of U.S. Senator Mel Martinez and the announcement months ago that frontrunner Jeb Bush is not interested, Crist has become the main potential candidate to beat."
Fantastic or fantasy, the next two months will decide. What transpires over the next two months also could be key in deciding Crist’s future as he flirts with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate. Historically, a behind-the-scenes promoter of his issues, Crist is expected to be more active in promoting his political agenda this session, one lawmaker said.
“He has said his job is to be the people’s governor,” said Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples. “But I’m assuming somewhere in the back of his mind he may want to be one of 100 senators.”"Poll: A make or break session for Gov. Crist with potential U.S. Senate run".
The governor said he’ll wait until after the Legislative session to decide, but some observers say his non-stop, statewide travel schedule strongly hints that if he has not made up his mind yet, he is certainly hedging his bets.
One thing a potential statewide candidate doesn’t need is to be caught up in what will likely be a painful budget debate fraught with reduced services for any and maybe even include a fee (read tax) increase or two.
So while Crist’s popularity would give Legislative leaders valuable political cover to make tough choices, some have concluded that Crist’s political background, personal style and possible aspirations for higher office may preclude him from taking a leadership role on the budget.
“I just don’t think he is going to want to drive the train on that,” Richter said.
Will the big talking RPOFers walk the walk, and reject the stimulus cash? Of course not.
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Republican leaders in the state Legislature have correctly concluded that Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed 2009-10 budget, fattened up with $12.2 billion of President Obama's stimulus money, is no cure-all for what ails Florida. Majority leaders in the Senate and House are so concerned about the consequences of accepting a Democratic president's stimulus money that they are considering rejecting it." "Take the money, forget the ideology". See also "Stimulus stirs the pot as hard budget choices await Florida lawmakers".
"The $410 billion federal spending bill, which pays for federal government operations until October, includes millions of dollars for cleaning up the Everglades and dredging the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Miami. Both of Florida's senators and nearly every House member nabbed millions." "South Florida wish lists could face test in Congress".
"A small nonprofit health clinic serving the poor and uninsured in Hollywood and Pompano Beach will get about $1 million from the federal economic stimulus plan, the White House said Monday. ... The clinic was one of eight in Florida to share $10.1 million in stimulus money." "Broward County: Health clinic to get $1 million stimulus".
Absentee ballots and the "mailbox rule"
"Challenger Gerry Goldsmith will contest his recent one-vote loss to Mayor Jack McDonald, his attorney said, alleging that the Palm Beach County elections office improperly disallowed nine absentee ballots and wrongfully rejected one provisional ballot from a Goldsmith supporter."
Goldsmith contends that nine Palm Beach voters mailed absentee ballots that were delivered to an elections office P.O. box at the U.S. post office on Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach before the polls closed at 7 p.m. Feb. 17."Loser in Palm Beach mayoral recount to file challenge".
State law says a voter must mail or deliver a ballot so it "reaches" the supervisor of elections by 7 p.m. on the day of the election.
Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said the statute means that a ballot must be in her office by 7 p.m. on election day to be counted. But Goldsmith attorney Gerald Richman said a ballot that reaches the post office box in time should be considered in compliance with the law.
Solis in Miami
"Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said on Monday that she will step up enforcement in her department and her challenge will be to put life back into the agency."
Solis made her first public speaking engagement in her new position in Miami at a town hall meeting just before the three-day AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting, which begins Tuesday."Solis: Enforcement to be stepped up at Labor Dept.". See also "New Labor Secretary Pushes Enforcement".
Pigs at the trough
"Cut-off day for gifts brings bounty". See also "A last-minute fundraising frenzy" and "On eve of the legislative session, a flurry of fundraisers" ("$500 checks were being passed out like holiday presents.")
"Lawmakers returning to Tallahassee for the session gathered Monday to party at the annual Associated Industries of Florida legislative reception." "Lawmakers begin difficult mission with annual AIF reception". See also "Guests brave cool weather at Associated Industries party".
Never mind that silly constitution thing
The Palm Beach Post editorial board says that "Florida's class-size amendment needs a short-term fix and a long-term fix. Here's why:"
Starting in the 2010-11 school year, public school classes in prekindergarten through third grade can have no more than 18 students. If a 19th student shows up, the school will need a new teacher and a new classroom. That's expensive and doesn't allow enough flexibility."Challenge for Tallahassee: Class-size amendment 2.0".
Rich and Cannon
Nan "Rich to take the helm in Senate Democratic Caucus", and "Central Florida lawmaker likely to lead House".
Dontcha just hate that democracy thing
From the pages of The Miami Herald this morning: "This is the first time in Latin America that a communist organization will reach the presidency through democratic elections. True, its candidate is an independent politician, journalist Mauricio Funes, an able and eloquent man."
But it is also true that he is escorted by a vice president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, and a parliamentary delegation who answer wholeheartedly to the FMLN. ..."FMLN victory a step back".
the FMLN is interested in governing so it may join the ''21st-century socialism'' bandwagon led by Hugo Chávez.
... it is not true that voters elect their representatives carefully and wisely. History is full of examples that confirm this melancholy statement.
Here's an idea ... cancel Arbor Day to save bucks
"Republican lawmakers want to jettison entire agencies to deal with a potentially $5 billion budget shortfall, but environmentalists have a different idea — creating Florida's first ocean czar." "Coalition asks Crist to name 'ocean czar'".
The end is near
The cheerful folks at the Florida Family Association are distributing an e-mail "filled with dark warnings:"
"The fate of Two Major Nominations will be determined this week."Culture wars still burning".
"First, the final hearing on President Obama’s appointment of pro-porn attorney David Ogden for the Deputy Attorney General position will occur on February 26th.
"David Ogden has represented a child porn defendant, Playboy, hardcore porn distributors and homosexuals in the military ...
"Second, Florida Governor Charlie Crist will conduct his final interviews for his fourth and last appointment to the Florida Supreme Court.
"Appointment of the wrong candidate would result in a left leaning court."
"Voters remain split on the virtue of spending $1.34 billion of taxpayer money for farmland targeted for Everglades restoration, according to a poll commissioned by Glades [community] leaders opposing the deal." "Voters split on state's U.S. Sugar deal to help Everglades". See also "Residents split nearly evenly on sugar deal, poll says".
"New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez took to the Senate floor tonight to deliver a withering denounciation of proposed changes to U.S.-Cuba policy, all but pleading with President Barack Obama to reject the changes -- which have been tucked into a massive spending bill being debated this week in the Senate." "Cuba policy smack down".
Meantime, "Raul Castro Ousts Fidel Loyalists".
"In era of school choice, competition".
"Strapped for cash and looking for a quick way out of a grinding recession, Florida lawmakers are about to loosen growth-management laws in the name of economic development." "Legislature to loosen laws to encourage growth".
What a bargain!
"In a rural North Florida town where the water tower bears the motto 'Tiny but Proud,' residents have a big secret: They give the cold, clear spring water that bubbles up from the aquifer below their soil to the nation's largest bottled-water company -- for free."
Every day, Nestlé Waters of North America sucks up an estimated 500,000 gallons from Madison Blue Springs, a limestone basin one mile north of town. It pipes the 70-degree water a mile to its massive bottling plant and distribution center, fills 102,000 plastic containers an hour, pastes on Deer Park or Zephyrhills labels, boxes it up and ships half of it out of state."Charlie Crist wants to stop free flow for bottled water".
The cost to the company for the water: a one-time, $150 local water permit.
"Sen. Bullard to be honored at Recognition Dinner Saturday night".
"Addie Greene says health worries may prompt her to resign from Palm Beach County Commission". See also "Friends, ex-wife praise Palm Beach County commission finalists".
Maybe we'll stay after all ...
"A Hollywood-based insurer, which stopped writing new policies last week, has an acquisition bid from United Insurance Holding." "Hollywood-based insurance company gets acquisition offer".