"Florida's chance to redirect its providence is now"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors:
The absence of an income tax is negated by a multiplication of other taxes and fees. The state and local tax burden on Floridians' income was 10 percent in 2007, not far off the national average of 11 percent. (It's 14.1 percent in Vermont, tops in the nation, but people aren't leaving Vermont, which, thanks to strict state mortgage and development regulations, also has the third-lowest foreclosure rate in the country and some of its highest quality-of-life indicators.)Much more here: "From bust to opportunity".
In reality, tax policy may be having an adverse effect on Florida's economy. The property-tax system insures lower taxes for long-term, homesteaded residents by capping their home's taxable value. But it taxes newcomers at full value. The two-tiered system discourages out-of-state newcomers from moving in -- and discourages younger families starting out more than wealthier retirees. The state's low-quality education system also discourages younger families and new industries from moving in. The temptation is once again to rely on the elderly and the health-care economy they generate. The huge pool of boomer retirees is tempting. But that'll lead to another bubble--a health-care bubble that will also burst, if it even swells to expectations: The elderly have plenty of other, less crowded states to choose from. And the boomer generation will end. What then?
The better future for Florida is in a mix of elderly and younger populations. It's in looking beyond growth and health care as fountains of wealth. The state could be a leader in green technology, biomedical research, even education. To attract the young and keep the elderly, it'll take improving the state's deteriorating quality-of-life indicators. That means broader investments in education, public transportation and environmental protection. And it will take reforming the state's tax structure -- to keep the Florida's finances from imploding again, as they did in 2008 and would have again in 2009 if it wasn't for a $15 billion federal bailout.
Florida isn't over. But if it doesn't reinvent itself away from its complacent all-growth, no-tax conceits, it may well be.
More from the The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "We'll work our way out, most all economists agree, but it will take the can-do spirit of individuals, as well as a shift in public policy strategies that will ensure more stable revenue streams than sales tax, more equitably spread around, and wiser, more efficient planning and growth decisions." "Shrink rap".
Mike Thomas: "This has kicked off a nasty spiral. Florida's economy is based on growth. No growth means fewer jobs. Fewer jobs mean people leave. People leaving means even fewer jobs, meaning more people leave." "It'll take a lot of digging to get out of this hole".
"President Obama's handling of healthcare has earned him a negative rating in Florida, and the protests against his plan are far more popular, according to a new poll by Quinnipiac University."
By a narrow 48-47 percentage-point margin, Floridians disapprove of Obama's job performance. Though the split is clearly within the poll's error margin, the rating makes Florida the first to give him a thumbs down out of the five large states Quinnipiac polls. ..."Poll: FL gives Obama thumbs down, support protests as American". See also "Obama popularity plummets 11 points, Q-poll finds; health reform a no-go" and "Obama's ratings in Florida plummet". Here's the poll.
Still, voters still like Obama personally, support taxing the rich to pay for more healthcare, subsidizing healthcare for the less wealthy, forcing businesses to provide health insurance.
Government-run healthcare isn't anathema, either. About 58 percent support it, while 34 who are opposed.
"Just a few years ago, Alex Sink couldn't have envisioned her position today: Atop the Florida Democratic Party, hoping to lead a resurgence after it has been out of power in state politics for more than a decade."
A career banker who had never run for office until the CFO job opened up in 2006, Sink, 61, said her swift rise in Democratic circles was "totally unintentional.""Alex Sink hopes to lead Democratic resurgence". Related: "McCollum grabs early edge over Sink in latest poll", "McCollum tops Sink for governor in latest Q-Poll" and "Poll: McCollum leads Sink in Florida gubernatorial race" ("McCollum swapped leads with Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, pulling ahead 38-34 percent in polling for next year's race").
"I think she represents the new face of the Democratic Party, as to fiscal responsibility," said House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands, D-Weston. "We've been tagged as being bleeding heart liberals, and that's not really accurate. Now it's time for us to define ourselves, and she is the definition of the Democratic Party."
With the 2010 election still 15 months away, Adelaide "Alex" Sink faces significant obstacles. Two polls this week show her trailing her likely Republican rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum. And many voters don't know who she is.
"Srazy public policy"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Taxpayers in Florida and across the nation are spending billions of dollars to restore the Everglades. At the same time, the state and federal governments are spending additional time and money to legalize pollution there. This is crazy public policy and the Obama administration needs to put an end to it." "A polluted Everglades policy".
Crist "bases every big decision on how it will affect [his] escape plan"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Swing voters may like bipartisanship, but as some Republicans in Florida are showing, the faithful define bipartisanship as their party getting everything."
"Case in point: Gov. Crist."
The governor is quitting to run next year for an open seat in the U.S. Senate, where he can avoid the hard, post-stimulus budget decisions awaiting the state's next chief executive. The governor bases every big decision on how it will affect that escape plan. That requires political slalom skiing: left to please the moderates and Democrats who will determine the general election, right to please the very conservative Republicans who matter in the GOP primary."Enjoy the rest of the editorial here: Ignore faithful's tantrums".
To those party loyalists, the governor has missed too many gates. They didn't like his physical embrace of President Obama last February and his political embrace of the Democrats' $787 billion stimulus plan. They didn't like his appointment of James Perry, a Democrat, to the Florida Supreme Court. They didn't like his appointment of Priscilla Taylor, a Democrat, to the Palm Beach County Commission. The indictment contains several more counts statewide, but those are the felonies.
Biden: Stim saved 26,000 Fla. education jobs
"Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the federal economic recovery package Wednesday, saying it had saved more than 1,600 jobs in Orange County's public school system alone and 26,000 education jobs across Florida." "Biden: Stimulus saved 1,600 jobs in Orange schools".
Polk County, that bastion of Hispanic Republicanism - "Alci Maldonado, of Lakeland in Polk County, was elected chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, a group with about a dozen chapters in states with significant Latino populations." And, in the head fully stuck in the sand category, we have this bit 'o blather:
"Contrary to popular belief, the Hispanic Republican population continues to be strong and a growing demographic across the nation," said Belinda Ortiz, Hispanic outreach director for Republicans in Florida."Central Florida Hispanic woman to lead Republican outreach".
"In the first of a twin-bill fundraising appearance in Orlando today, Vice President Joe Biden praised "moderate" U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas for her independence and courage to vote for the Recovery Act, which he said helped America come back from the precipice of a depression." "Biden praises Kosmas' independence, helps her raise more than $70k".
"Vice President Joe Biden told 150 political donors in Orlando Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson had the smarts and character to challenge Iraq War profiteers, and that's just what's needed now to push an historic agenda in Washington." "Grayson, Biden trade quips at $1,000-a-plate fundraiser".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "They power our homes and businesses. But thanks to state regulators, Florida's two largest electric utilities no longer can keep people in the dark when it comes to how much their top executives make." "Hard times & Utility companies being transparent".
"Why I should be named senator".
"Mustn't simply blame market forces"?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida's public officials can't, by themselves, turn the economy around. But those in a position to stimulate and diversify it mustn't simply blame market forces either. It's their job to help attract and keep enough businesses in the area. Failing that, perhaps the job should fall to a successor." "Hard times".