"Property taxes and property insurance will share center stage on Tuesday as Florida legislators get back to work for the second week of their nine-week annual session." "Property taxes, insurance will be in spotlight today".
The The Tallahassee Democrat's "2009 Legislature roundup".
Raw political courage
Update: "Crist and Sink said Tuesday there is no way the Florida Legislature can take money from a trust fund used to hold money for families who have prepaid for their child's college tuition." "Crist, Sink Say College Money Safe".
"State weighs tapping into prepaid tuition fund for economic relief".
"Among the weakest regions in the nation for hiring"
"For the April to June quarter, 5 percent of South Florida companies plan to hire more employees while 19 percent expect to reduce their payrolls". "Survey paints grim picture for South Florida's jobs outlook".
"South Florida is among the weakest regions in the nation for hiring, according to a Manpower Employment Outlook Survey being released today." "We are the weakest link: South Florida job hunters starving for opportunity, Manpower says". See also "Southwest Florida job outlook remains bleak".
Related: "St. Petersburg woman who painted Obama slogans on her car lost job, faces repossession".
Not much of a "hot" line
"Jobless Floridians will have to wait a while longer for the "immediate" $25 a week federal stimulus money."
And if that's frustrating, try getting anything but a busy signal from the state's help hot line for unemployment."The Agency for Workforce Innovation, which processes unemployment claims, hasn't begun distributing the extra weekly money for the 500,000 out-of-work residents receiving unemployment checks, although the federal government released the money more than three weeks ago."
The agency officials say it is taking weeks to reprogram its computer."Extra $25 for jobless delayed".
The extra money should be added to the bi-weekly checks by the end of the month or late next week at the earliest, agency officials said Monday. People receiving benefits will automatically get the weekly boost, whenever it happens.
Some states, including California, have begun to distribute the money, prompting criticism from some Florida lawmakers.
Why raise taxes, when ...
"Paperwork will be filed Tuesday to increase the federal share of the state-federal health care program for the poor from 55.4 percent to 67.6 percent and that would send $817 million in stimulus to Florida for a six-month period retroactive to October." "Crist: Fla. applying for $817 million in stimulus".
"Plummeting property-tax revenues might endanger Gov. Charlie Crist's sugar land buy." "Drop in tax revenue might sour deal to buy U.S. Sugar land". Related: "Poll finds Florida voters split on proposed U.S. Sugar land deal". See also "Tax loss imperils Glades land buy".
"Users can search for bills, follow the progress of each measure through committee and floor votes and read staff analyses. The House site even has a bill tracker that automatically sends e-mail updates on legislation selected by each user." "Web lets Floridians look over lawmakers' shoulders".
"Executions' moral, fiscal costs burden society"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board reminds us that
The death penalty is ineffective as a deterrent to murder. Jurisdictions with capital punishment see no reduction in the rate of violent crime and the American south, where 80 percent of U.S. executions occur, has a considerably higher murder rate than the northeast, responsible for only 1 percent of American executions.Much more here: "Dollars for death".
The death penalty is racially and economically biased. Murderers who kill Caucasians or can't afford private attorneys are more likely to be sentenced to death.
The death penalty creates a potential for irrevocable error. Florida leads the nation with 22 death row exonerations over the past 35 years, and it's almost a certainty that several innocent people were executed before DNA-testing technology became widespread.
The death penalty is barbaric. Most democratic countries have outlawed its use.
Stop the madness
"Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, has filed a bill in the Florida Legislature that would require random drug testing for those who draw unemployment compensation benefits."
The reason he considers the bill important is that, with high levels of unemployment, the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund is rapidly depleting. Trimming those from the rolls who are using the money to buy drugs would relieve some of the financial pressure on the fund, Bennett said."Bill would require drug test for unemployment check".
"Last spring, state lawmakers eliminated a $13.5 million earmark for the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute amid controversy over the center's governance and spending decisions. Before a budget-cutting session in fall 2007, the center was receiving $15 million a year." "Tampa's Byrd Institute Seeks $2 Million 'Survival Funding'".
What the "consequential" people are saying ...
Mike Thomas: "Some Tallahassee politicians are contemplating a raid on the prepaid fund."
This would be a huge breach of trust. If you bought into the program, they literally would be looting your savings account. This would destroy the program's credibility and jeopardize its future solvency."Florida Prepaid College Plan is a terrible thing to waste".
It would establish the precedent that the fund is a cash cow for politicians when times get tough.
I wish I could say those talking about it are inconsequential.
"Members of the Florida Cabinet sitting as the State Board of Administration are trying to decide on a financial strategy for the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund." "Board to discuss financial strategy for fund".
"Thousands of jobless Floridians are hoping that the $1.3 billion in stimulus money coming to Florida for road projects might help them get out of the unemployment line and back to work." "It's a long road to get stimulus money to the streets".
The Chamber hacks at the Miami Herald want you to believe that "the average UAW worker makes $73 an hour in wages and benefits" "No choice in Free Choice Act".
This garbage from the same newspaper company that long ago lost its editorial credibility:
The Miami Herald's endorsement on Sunday of President Reagan for a second term prompted the newspaper's editor to resign because The Herald's publisher had overruled an editorial board [9 to 2] decision to endorse Walter F. Mondale, according to Jim Hampton, the editor."Endorsement Agonies At The Miami Herald". See also "Taking a Stand; Why Newspapers Endorse Candidates".
As we all know, there's no longer any real separation between the interests of Florida newspaper company owners and the written product of Florida newspaper company employees, particularly job scared opinion columnists.
Hush about all that ...
"Even after watching three of their former colleagues being taken down by federal prosecutors, Palm Beach County Commissioners Burt Aaronson and Addie Greene said today that they won't testify before a state grand jury that's trying to uncover local corruption." "Commissioners Aaronson, Greene, Vana won't testify in Palm Beach County corruption probe".
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "By law, the Department of Children and Families’ mission is to support Florida’s families — even those full of dysfunction. The system strives to restore children to their parents whenever possible. But that bias should never trump a child’s basic welfare when a parent has failed time and time again." "Who will protect this child?".
"The greatest Floridian"
If Florida were serious about its state holidays, then March 10 ought to be one of them. LeRoy Collins, the greatest Floridian, was born a century ago today."The greatest Floridian".
More school cuts
"The suggested reductions were part of proposed budget cuts at the county's middle and high schools given to the [Broward County school] board on Monday. The total cuts represent 4 percent of school budgets, or $55 million from elementary, middle and high schools, and centers". "School sports may be axed in Broward County to save $55 million".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "There's too much control over growth in Florida. Developers need more freedom to build. Local elected officials don't need oversight from the state."
Those are the myths driving legislative efforts to abolish growth management in Florida."Keep state watching growth".
"There are subtle messages and a political back story in 'Officer Down,' the bronze police memorial that Gov. Charlie Crist dedicated Monday in the Capitol plaza. " "Memorial dedicated to fallen law-enforcement officers".
"Floridians are concerned about the state's carbon footprint and many would support laws to reduce emissions and require auto manufacturers to sell cars and light trucks that emit fewer harmful greenhouse gases, according to a recent survey." "Survey: Floridians would support laws to reduce emissions".
Spoils of war
"Count 'em. Not one, but two bid protests for the massive Florida Turnpike concession contract. Both Host International and the lobbied-up International Meal Co. say the contract wasn't fairly awarded to Areas." "Let the bid protests begin!".
"Florida's neighbors Georgia and Alabama are among 26 states with Web sites keeping the public informed about where and how they plan to spend federal stimulus money. But the Sunshine State appears to have a problem illuminating its own recovery road map." "Post: Florida lags on Web site for spending".
This is a little like the kid who killed his parents and then pled for mercy because he was an orphan.
Florida markets itself as a low tax state, cuts taxes on wealthy investors, and on top of that, elects Legislators without the political courage to create a bona fide public finance system. Now Florida claims it is entitled to a "hardship" exemption.
"U.S. Secretary of Education Arne "
Duncan must determine whether to give Florida a special waiver so that it can receive that $2.2 billion share of funding contained in the massive $787 billion American Recovery and Investment Act signed by President Barack Obama last month. ..."Tribune: State Seeking Hardship Waiver, Education Funds".
Both of the state's U.S. senators, members of the House and state lawmakers are among those who have been pressing Duncan in letters to grant Florida a pass because the stimulus bill allows waivers in cases of hardship.
One wonders if the rest of the nation, particularly those states with income taxes, will feel inclined to bail Florida out? Related: "Northern "'donor states' subsidizing their Southern counterparts"".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The Miccosukee police, who handled the accident, have not cooperated fully with prosecutors on the case, leaving much in limbo. They have not turned over subpoenaed paperwork, including reports and photographs, that could help determine the cause of the accident and who might be at fault."
Such cooperation is usually routine with police departments, but it has not always been so with the Miccosukee in traffic and criminal cases."One state, same laws, applicable to all".
The disconnect is serious enough that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which certifies the Miccosukee and other police departments throughout the state, should determine if the Miccosukee department is in compliance with state codes. The Miami-Dade County Commission also should look into the matter.
Out here in the fields
"Farm workers from Immokalee traveled to Tallahassee to ask the state to fight 'modern-day slavery' and improve working conditions." "Farm workers from Immokalee protest conditions". See also "Farm workers, protestors speak out against modern day slavery".
Meantime, Charlie hides under the Chamber's skirts. The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board takes the self-proclaimed "People's Governor" to task:
Taking a stand against the beating, threatening and restraining of employees, the act of locking them in trucks to force them to work, should be among the easiest calls a politician ever makes."Slavery lingers here" (editorial originally published by The News-Press (the Democrat's sister paper in Fort Myers)).
That's why it's dumbfounding that Gov. Charlie Crist refuses to meet with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. ...
For some inexplicable reason, Crist has remained silent on what Gourmet magazine recently dubbed "Florida's slave trade," the scourge of our state's agricultural industry. There have been seven federal prosecutions for slavery in Florida's fields since 1997, freeing more than 1,000 people ... .
"House Democratic leader Franklin Sands says being on the sidelines in Tallahassee won't keep him from being an effective advocate for his West Broward constituents." "Weston lawmaker says low-key doesn't equal ineffective".
Head in the sand
"Sandblom, who said one reason she did not vote for the president was his stand on embryonic stem cell research, said she has no problems with using adult stem cells or umbilical stems cells for such research, but she draws the line at embryos." "Residents divided over stem cell order".