"The new state budget is expected to reach the desks of all 160 Florida legislators today, setting the stage for Friday's adjournment one week late." "Awaiting legislators today — budgets, hot off the press". See also "House, Senate reach budget compromises; final vote to come Friday" and "Florida legislators settle budget differences, but Seminole gambling deal unresolved".
"A few days late and a little worn out, Florida legislators finally reached an accord Monday on how to balance the proposed $65 billion state budget that touches every life in the nation's fourth most-populous state."
The budget raises an historic amount of taxes, fees and licenses -- about $2 billion worth -- on smokers, drivers, property owners, sportsmen, university students and sportsmen.And thank goodness for that Obama feller:
Pumped with $5 billion in federal bailout cash, the budget provides a small boost in per-student spending for K-12 schools, and trims a wide array of Medicaid reimbursements to doctors and hospitals and applied a 2 percent reduction to the salaries of state workers earning more than $45,000 yearly."Get ready for more taxes, less service from $65B Florida budget deal". See also "House, Senate agree to $65 billion budget, pay cut".
All by himself
"Crist conjures specter of veto".
"Lawmakers threw a lifeline to school districts"
"Running counter to its practice of pummeling local governments with unfunded mandates, revenue caps and such, Florida lawmakers threw a lifeline to school districts over the weekend, providing them a way to raise additional revenue for big-ticket capital and technology projects." "Throwing a rope".
May we respectfully suggest ...
... that the Florida Turnpike be renamed? See "Sliver of Orlando road to be named for President Obama".
Big of him
"Thousands of state employees are angry about an impending pay cut, but Gov. Charlie Crist said today he appreciates their 'humble public service.'" "Crist thanks government employees for 'humble public service'".
Remembering the session
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Lawmakers would have you remember the 2009 legislative session this way: They did what they could to help Floridians, only, darn the luck, they were handcuffed by a bleak economy."
Here's how you should remember it: Lawmakers used the economy as justification for killing measures they didn't like, regardless of the benefit to the public. Lawmakers then used the economy to prop up other measures that for years they wanted to embrace but couldn't without a scapegoat — like the weak economy."Capitalizing on a crisis".
Mike Thomas is less diplomatic: "If at first you don't succeed, then really screw things up. That is the logic in Tallahassee as legislators are throwing two property-tax amendments on the 2010 ballot." "One word for Tallahassee's ideas: Taxing".
"Negotiators agree on state budget, after one last SunRail discussion".
RPOFer right-wingers have their candidate
"Former House Speaker Marco Rubio to run for U.S. Senate in 2010".
Stepping aside for Charlie?
"Greer rules out congressional bid".
Where are the anti-government freaks now?
"Swine flu, budget cuts put big demands on health department".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Everyone in Florida soon will pay more for property insurance. Gov. Crist will determine how much more."
By signing one of the two major bills and vetoing the other, he can make the added expense for most Floridians modest and necessary, not dramatic and needless in a way that would slow economic recovery."EDITORIAL: Crist should sign this bill". See also "EDITORIAL: Crist should veto this one". Background: "Property tax plan is sent to Crist".
HB 1495 is 103 pages long. HB 1171 runs just five pages but would be much more significant and costly if it became law. We will deal with HB 1171 in the accompanying editorial.
Oh goody ... lets build a development
"Black bear spotted in Lee County". Related: "Charges dropped in shooting of protected birds".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "When Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, added $5 million to the state budget at the last minute for a pet project at the University of South Florida Polytechnic, he said he "hadn't thought about it or I would have done it sooner." In fact, he shouldn't have done it at all." "Reject $5 million favor".
"Hasner says elections bill dead".
"A retired Ormond Beach police officer plans to challenge for the open state House 26 seat in the 2010 elections. Vince Champion, a 44-year-old Republican, announced his candidacy Monday for the position being vacated because of term limits by Pat Patterson, R-DeLand. " "Ex-Ormond cop enters state House race".
"Creating colonies of desperate men"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "In three years, the number of people living in legal limbo on a spit of sand under the Julia Tuttle Causeway has grown to 66 from seven."
They are there because state and local elected officials have acted with willful ignorance and fear-mongering to perpetuate the illusion that isolating sexual offenders somehow makes a community safer. They are wrong. They are instead creating colonies of desperate men who live in squalid, inhumane, unsanitary, dangerous conditions."Sex offenders live in legal limbo".
These same elected officials -- the lawmakers you sent to Tallahassee and members of local councils and commissions -- will react with shock and horror when the tinderbox they created is leveled by storm or fire, crippled by disease or explodes in violence.
"Limbaugh dismisses Jeb".
Medicare reform will have "huge implications" for Florida
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board: "Congressional Democrats are maneuvering to ensure that [medicare] reform isn't derailed by the usual bugbears -- specious claims of 'socialized' medicine or the end of personal choice or the beginning of big new bureaucracies."
Any health-care reform will have huge implications for Florida, a state with the third-highest rate of uninsured individuals (20.7 percent in 2007, after Texas and New Mexico), and the second-highest for children (19.5 percent, after Texas)."No time for Medicare overhaul based on guesses".
Barring that, any reform affecting Medicare would have a disproportionate effect on Florida, which has the highest proportion of people 65 or older (16.8 percent, equivalent to 8.2 percent of the nation's elderly population).
Florida's elderly are projected to account for 27 percent of the state's population by 2030. If you're middle-aged today, Medicare reform will affect you.
"Florida's new 'double dipping' bill aimed at stopping government workers from drawing both a paycheck and a pension could force Kurt Browning to leave office before the next statewide election in 2010." "Bill may squeeze out secretary of state".
"A culture of duplicity"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "A culture of duplicity remains within the top ranks of the Florida State Board of Administration, the agency that oversees billions of dollars of investments for the state pension and other government agencies. "
The seeds were sown in the Wall Street furor, when the SBA's top managers abandoned prudence and due diligence for the lure of the fast buck. But an investigation by the St. Petersburg Times has found that despite a change of executive director, the agency's top managers, throughout the current market downturn, have repeatedly misled clients and investors — even when lower-ranking employees balked at the misinformation.Recall that
The roots of this deception trace to December 2006. Over the next year, financial advisers from three Wall Street firms persuaded the SBA staff to buy billions of dollars of risky securities. By the summer of 2007 — as the subprime debacle unfurled — SBA staff began to mislead pension plan members, SBA's appointed advisers and local government investors about the mounting losses."Financial deception persists". Background: "Florida investment agency uses smoke, mirrors".