Bill Cotterell: "With few pennies to spare, Florida's tax collections are finally living up to bare-bones expectations, the head of the Department of Revenue said Tuesday." "Report: Tax collections offer 'glimmer of hope'".
"New figures show Florida collected more money than expected for a third straight month, which cheered Gov. Charlie Crist and the state Cabinet on Tuesday, although the June surplus was a relatively modest $36 million. Those are positive signs after more than two years of steady shortfalls that resulted in billions of dollars of spending cuts, funding shifts and tax and fee increases." "State revenue surplus buoys Crist".
Florida's Ponzi scheme
Scott Maxwell: "Bernie Madoff went to prison for running a Ponzi scheme."
By that same measure, Florida's politicians should be doing time as well.See what he means: "Overtaxed? More like unfairly taxed".
They built our state's economy upon the premise of sucking new people in.
And now that the growth machine has stalled, we're in trouble.
A new report from the independent Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy spells out precisely why Florida is suffering more than most states during the current recession.
Here's a related op ed in The Saint Petersburg Times, "To rebound, Florida needs to make smart decisions", by John Hall, executive director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.
Busy little wingnut
Crist's latest pander to the RPOF base: "Crist says he's open to oil drilling off Florida coast".
Charlie's been a busy little wingnut, with this oil drilling blather close on the heels of his recent pronouncement that Sotomayor doesn't belong on the Supreme Court, and Charlie having "essentially guaranteed that the remaining wetlands of western Miami-Dade will be paved, dooming any hope for reviving the Everglades."
BTW, I'm running for Guv
"Attorney General Bill McCollum presented a $2 million check to The Florida Bar Foundation Tuesday to provide legal help for people facing foreclosure." "State puts $2M toward helping people facing foreclosure".
Who hired this lawyer?
"Negotiations over a gambling deal between the governor and the Seminole Tribe have been on hold for the past three weeks as both parties await word on whether the House and Senate will modify their take-it-or-leave-it offer. 'The ball is kind of in their court,' said George LeMieux, former chief of staff for Gov. Charlie Crist and now on the legal team representing the governor in the talks." "Talks over Seminole gambling agreement on hold".
Interstate 4 kill zone
"A second bear [in a week] has been struck and killed by cars along Interstate 4 in Seminole County." "Second bear killed on Seminole County interstate".
Florida intern doesn't get her man
"Tenn. state senator quits after affair with intern". Background: "Young Republicans in action" (scroll down).
"Crist and Cabinet members sent Miami-Dade and other urban counties a message Tuesday when they rejected the county's attempt to move the development line west to accommodate a Lowe's Superstore. Crist and the Cabinet, voting 3-1, agreed with an administrative law judge that the county violated the state's Growth Management Act when it expanded the urban development boundary for the home improvement center."
Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson was the lone no vote."Florida Cabinet thwarts plan to alter Miami-Dade development boundary".
But Attorney General Bill McCollum also seemed to waver. When he was first asked his vote, he responded: ``I didn't say no.'' Twenty minutes later, he amended his vote to ``yes'' and explained that he still had questions about the issue.
"Seven doctors recently appointed to a state panel aimed at controlling pill mills have only a few weeks to decide how pain medicine can legally be practiced in Florida." "Panel to decide how Fla. pain clinics can operate".
Consumer confidence ...
"Florida and U.S. consumers seem to be more concerned about the struggling job market than the rallying stock market. Despite recent good news in the form of rising stock indexes and flattening home prices, state and national consumer confidence fell in July, according to numbers released Tuesday."
The state's consumer confidence index fell to 67 for July, down from its most recent peak of 72 in April. ..."Florida, U.S. consumers feeling less confident".
"This decline comes as a bit of a surprise,'' wrote Chris McCarty, who manages the survey for the University of Florida's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, in his monthly announcement. "Given that the stock market is now up for the year and housing is showing strong signs of stabilizing, I would attribute much of this decline to the news about employment.''
Statewide unemployment hit 10.6 percent last month.
Just do it
"State health officials and a nonprofit group, Donate Life Florida, announced Tuesday that organ donors can now register their gift through a special website, www.donatelifeflorida.org, rather than fill out paperwork at a driver's license office." "Organ donors in Florida can now register online".
"An alternative to the gas tax"
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Federal, state and local gas taxes pay for the majority of roads and bridges and help pay for mass transit. Sometime in the future, that won't be as effective. Fuel efficiency improves the environment and lowers the country's foreign debt. It also reduces gas tax receipts, reducing governments' ability to maintain infrastructure. An alternative to the gas tax is needed. Planning for one should start now."
University of Iowa researchers are doing just that, thanks to a $16.5 million study paid for by Congress. Researchers are drafting several hundred drivers in six cities, including 250 drivers in South Florida, to study their driving habits. ..."Future for roads and mass transit without gas tax?".
[Under consideration is] the feasibility of replacing the gas tax. Instead of paying 18.4 cents in federal gas taxes at the pump, drivers would pay a fee based on the number of miles they've driven, whether their vehicle gets 12 miles per gallon or 50 miles per gallon. ...
The Obama administration isn't interested in a higher transportation tax, at least not now.
Neither is John Mica, R-Orlando, the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee and co-author, with the committee's Democratic chairman, of a bill that aims to spend $450 billion on infrastructure in the next five years. If the transportation trust fund is to keep going short of a higher tax for the next 18 months, the money would have to come from the federal government's general revenue. That's the option the Obama administration favors.
It's more deficit spending, since the money isn't there. It also makes the case for reforming the trust fund -- in funding mechanism and mission -- more compelling. Iowa University's study involving South Florida drivers is only the start of a long road, most of which has yet to be built.
"Apopka mother wrongly jailed on prostitution charges".
"Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair [a conservative Republican] said he spent the days after his arrest for scuffling* with his teenage sons worried about the impact it would have on his political career. Now he says the incident could serve as a platform that re-launches him back into public service." "Blair says scuffle with sons could revive political career".
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*It was actually a bit more than a mere "scuffle": "Blair continued to yell at him, pushed him, punched him once in the face and then put him in an arm lock.".
Florida winning "race to the [bottom]"
The Bushco apologists on the The Miami Herald editorial board: "A decade into former Gov. Jeb Bush's signature [?] accountability program, Florida now is poised to lead the nation in a new federal initiative, which U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has dubbed the 'Race to the Top.'" "New education initiative shows promise".
Let's get real about where Florida's "signature accountability program" has gotten us:
State spending on education as percentage of total resourcesLawton Chiles Foundation. More: "The organization ticks off a laundry list of embarassments, such as Florida ranking 49th in the percentage of children without health insurance, 47th in the percentage of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester, 36th in the nation in the percent of low-birthweight babies and 50th in per capita spending on education."
Florida ranks 42nd. As a state, Florida spends only 3.1% of its resources on education.
Source: Education Week, Quality Counts, 2009
State per capita spending on corrections vs. education
Florida ranks 50th in per capita spending on education, but ranks 16th in the nation in spending on corrections.
Source: NEA Rankings of the States 2008
High School Graduation Rates
Florida ranks 43rd, with 60.8 percent of public high school students graduating with a diploma.
Source: Education Week, Quality Counts, 2009
Standardized Test Scores
Florida students rank 48th in the nation in average composite scores on the ACT, a standard college entrance exam.
Source: American Legislative Exchange Council, Report Card on American Education, 2008
"Lawmakers to propose ban on driving while texting".