"Senate budget chief JD Alexander just made his Florida Forever and Everglades rescue plan official. In a second round of negotiations with House budget leaders, the Senate proposed spending $9 million to back $47 million in bonds. Of that, $25 million would go to keeping the largest environmental land buying program in the nation alive next year." "Updated: Senate budget chief proposes bond issue for environmental protection". See also "Budget Negotiators Spare Bright Futures".
Steve Bousquet: "House and Senate leaders negotiated all day Saturday to settle budget issues as surprise proposals surfaced." "In budget talks, last-minute deals for hometown projects". "The conferees left numerous issues pending for final decisions today, such as:"
•Whether to ban the use of state dollars for travel to Cuba or other "terrorist states""USF Lakeland is a winner in budget talks".
•Whether to decimate a program to clean up underground petroleum storage tanks
•Whether to use money from a cigarette tax increase to fund expansion of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute.
Also unresolved: terms for a gambling compact with the Seminole tribe.
"Demonstrating the unique power of a budget chairman deep in conference negotiations, Sen. JD Alexander took only a few hours on Saturday to convince his House counterparts to find $5 million new dollars for a University of South Florida campus in his district. The Lake Wales Republican denied that the item, which was not included in either the House or Senate's original $65 billion spending proposals, was pork for his district." "House budget debate draws on". See also "Little cheer for legislators" and "Big ideas, but little action by Legislature".
Admit it. When Columbus sailed off for the New World, he didn't ride a bicycle."Yes, the comment stopped me, too, when I watched last Monday's so-called debate in the Florida House over a bill that would turn this state into Louisiana by allowing oil and gas drilling 3 miles off the Gulf Coast. "
But Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, sponsor of House Bill 1219, wanted to make the point - such as it was - that the nation needs power. Too much to get from such piddling sources as wind and sun. And he was prepared to reach high in making his point."God's 'renewable' oil".
House members, Rep. Van Zant said, could express their "reverence in our Creator" by allowing companies to drill for the oil and gas that God had blessed Florida with in abundance. Rep. Van Zant, who holds two degrees from Baptist seminaries, knew this turf. Earlier in debate, he had said, "We worship a God who made (the oil), and if we ran out, I think he could make some more." Now, that is renewable energy.
But for those who enjoy the most simplistic arguments, Rep. Greg Evers, R-Baker, had one. A vote for the drilling bill "is a vote for our way of life. A vote against it is a vote for OPEC." Perfect. Patriot vs. traitor.
End of an era
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board:
The decade's protracted and bitter shareholders battle that ended the Davidsons' control of the newspaper and the severance of the directors and top executives Tuesday does not eclipse the family's vast and varied contributions to our community over generations -- through the newspaper and other endeavors. We are acutely aware and appreciative of that legacy as we move forward to provide News-Journal readers and advertisers the best newspaper possible within the limits of our talents and resources."Moving forward".
Rubio misses the cameras
"[T]he latest Buzz is that Republican former House Speaker Marco Rubio will announce for the U.S. Senate this week. The big question is whether Jeb Bush publicly endorses Rubio or whether he stays on the sidelines, letting everyone assume he prefers Rubio over Crist." "Marco's moment?"
"Despite plans to push a broad tax review, legislators chose to pass the easiest single tax, and not much more." "Legislature's scorecard for 2009: 1 new tax, little reform".
RPOFer stem cell politics
In 2007, House Minority leader Franklin
Sands defeated a proposal from Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, that would have banned spending any state dollars on [stem cell] research. This year, House GOP leaders wrote the prohibition directly into their spending plan for 2009-10."Backer hopes for stem-cell funding".
The issue remains in play today, with Senate leaders still mulling the issue.
Sands tried in vain this spring to strip the language out of the budget proposal. Friday night, Sands complained that his priority issue has become mired in campaign politics. Flores and Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, are vying for the same Senate seat, Sands said, and it appears that Rivera has decided to "co-opt" the stem-cell issue.
"It's not because Rivera has a burning passion about it," Sands said. "He's been in the Legislature a long time and he never broached the issue. It's only now that he's running against Anitere Flores - it was her issue."
Rivera called the allegation "demeaning" to all members who disagree with Sands on the subject.
The St. Pete Times editors: "It will require a citizens' initiative to place a new constitutional amendment on the ballot that would force the Legislature into the sunshine. The Legislature can ignore a grand jury presentment. It cannot ignore the will of the people." "Out of the shadows".
Tom Nickens: "The public's business should be conducted in public, regardless of whether it's being done in city hall, the county courthouse or the state Capitol. " "Infuriating, depressing session".
Another Bushco flop
"Florida must adopt managed-care for Medicaid statewide or could lose federal funding, lawmakers were told."
Some legislators want to kill Medicaid managed-care entirely."Jeb Bush's Medicaid legacy frets lawmakers".
''We've done the experiment. It has failed,'' said Durell Peaden, the Senate's health care budget chief. ``The reports are unsettling. People couldn't get to specialists, couldn't get adequate care. And they couldn't do it cheaply.''
"Romney, Jeb Bush kick off GOP rebranding effort".
Still the same
Pamela Hasterok wrote last week that,
while Florida traded a conservative governor for a moderate, the political result may be the same. The extreme wing of the Republican Party holds as much sway under Crist as it did under Bush."Crist needs to get back in the spotlight".
Legislators gave billions in tax breaks to businesses, directed public money to private schools and made it easier to develop rural land during Bush's years at the helm.
During Crist's first term, they're continuing huge sales-tax breaks for businesses, expanding programs that send public money to private schools and making it even easier to develop away from cities.
With Crist absent or uninvolved, legislators are returning to their old ways.
More than SunRail
Aaron Deslatte: "Not just Orlando area got slighted in session". More: "Dockery the Winner In CSX Battle" and "How SunRail failed: Gripes, grudges and Paula Dockery's gift to senators".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Florida's Space Coast is headed for an economic calamity. NASA's shuttle program is on course to shut down as soon as next year, and no later than 2011. By some estimates, at least 6,500 jobs will be lost at the Kennedy Space Center. Thousands more related jobs in the area also will go away." "Shake up Space Florida".
"Tumult and malaise"
"The 2009 lawmaking session that is not quite over will best be remembered not for what lawmakers did, but for what they went through."
The one-time Speaker of the House was indicted in a political scandal that by extension condemned the furtive budget process. Not since the Great Depression had the Florida economy been so bad. Republicans were forced to raise taxes and to accept the federal largess of a Democratic president."Florida Legislature's stormy session is one for the books".
It was at once a period of tumult and malaise, and it is not yet over. Unable to agree on a spending plan -- their only constitutional duty during the 60-day session -- lawmakers return Friday to sign off on a $65 billion budget that is a case study in compromise.
"State employees are used to getting budget leftovers, and they know there won't be any pay raises in this tough economy." "Fate of state employees' salaries up to Senate, House chiefs".
Adam C. Smith on the next St. Pete wannabe:
Wagman is proud only three employees signed union cards."Energetic enigma Scott Wagman running for St. Petersburg mayor".
Anonymous Sink attack website
And so it begins:
On Friday, an anonymous Web site surfaced (DontBankonSink.com) hammering Chief Financial Officer Sink for her ties to Bank of America, where she was head of Florida operations until her retirement in 2000."Negative attacks on Florida CFO Alex Sink and Gov. Charlie Crist run before next campaigns form".
The anonymous political attack website is registered via an Arizona Company:
Registrant:"Whois Record for Dontbankonsink.com".
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
Domain Name: DONTBANKONSINK.COM
Created on: 28-Apr-09
Expires on: 28-Apr-10
Last Updated on: 28-Apr-09
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
(480) 624-2599 Fax -- (480) 624-2598
Behind the curve
Sun-Sentinel editors: "Far to the north, in a rural state known for long, cold winters and with barely one fifth as many residents as Florida, on April 3 the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state legislature's effort to ban gay marriage as unconstitutional, upholding the most important constitutional principle underlying the American way of life — equal protection." "Same-sex marriage: State should uphold equal protection".
"After two years of Republican Gov. Charlie Crist clearing a path for his party to the political center, is the traditionally arch-conservative Florida House following suit?"
"It's probably less fiscally conservative than we've been in the past," said House Speaker Pro Tem Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton. "But we've listened to a lot of our constituents who have said, 'I can live with this tax or I can live with a little bit of an increase.'""Is House making a left turn? Economy alters GOP actions".
After 60 days in the annual legislative session, the GOP-dominated House has agreed to changes condemned in years past as a violation of the party's "small government" principles.
And as lawmakers head into overtime this week to wrap up the state budget, Republican House leaders say they'll support a cigarette tax hike along with $800 million in new fees for drivers, court costs and state park visitors, among others.
Raw political courage
"Budget plan regains $13 million for libraries".
Palm Beach patronage
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "For nearly two decades, Palm Beach County relied on a rotation system to supposedly avoid controversy in the selection of bond underwriters. But controversy arrived nonetheless, with a federal probe resulting in criminal charges against former Commissioner Mary McCarty and a plea deal that will send her to prison." "End AAA-rated patronage".