"The bad news will keep coming, a state economist warned Wednesday, with already record joblessness likely to rise to all-time highs."
"Economist: Lawmakers will continue to face steep budget challenges".
Amy Baker, head of the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research, predicted Florida unemployment figures for December — set to come out Friday — will continue to increase and that the peak jobless rate could hit 12 percent in the spring.
The November unemployment rate, slightly higher than 11 percent, means 1.1 million Floridians were out of work. If the figure rises to 12 percent, "that's highest it's been since we've been keeping records," Baker said.
Baker doesn't think the Florida economy will start to see anything like normal growth rates until the spring of 2011.
"Republicans are crowing"
"Nationally, Republicans are crowing about winning a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. But the implications for Florida are not so clear."
But heading into the busiest election year Florida has seen in decades, the political picture is murkier in this state than it appears nationally."Florida Democrats insist all is not lost".
If Democrats are in such trouble in Florida, why did the party register nearly 44,000 more voters than Republicans in 2009 -- including three times as many Hispanic voters? And why does the Democratic gubernatorial front-runner, Alex Sink, have $1.5 million more in her bank account than Republican front-runner Bill McCollum?
RPOFers stealing Vasilinda's thunder
"New bill aims to create Florida jobs via entertainment industry".
Thomas' man crush
Mike Thomas can't wash that "Jeb!" out of his hair: "The state's top business leaders, those who sit on the Council of 100, are recommending we bring back school vouchers. I agree. But we need real vouchers, not the flimsy ones the state gave us in 1999. "We need to be creative with school vouchers".
What will they think of next
"A bill would require Florida lawmakers to avoid voting on matters in which they would personally benefit." "Bill would curb Florida lawmakers' ability to benefit from votes".
Raw political courage
"Senate President Jeff Atwater kicked off a meeting detailing the state and the country’s dire economic condition with a stern, no-new-taxes speech as lawmakers prepare another belt-tightening budget."
Atwater contradicted questions about how to close what could be up to a $3 billion spending gap this year, saying the premise was incorrect. ..."Atwater: Not another dime from Fla.!".
“We should not allow the shrieking cacophony of special interests to drown out this simple fact. We have faced up to and made the difficult decisions. What we have not done and what we will not do is leave our sons and our daughters and future generations of Floridians with an intolerable burden of taxes and debt,” Atwater said, drawing the applause of the GOP members in attendance.
Atwater appears to have little difficulty kow towing to the "shrieking cacophony of special interests" at Chamber and AIF events.
See also "Senate chief says no new taxes, fees to balance budget" and "Lawmakers pledge to delay, avoid tax increases".
RPOF teabag orgy
"The day after Republican Scott Brown's upset U.S. Senate win in Massachusetts, GOP candidates in Florida all but tripped over one another to claim a spot in an anti-Establishment movement that has grown louder by the month."
Crist — a candidate for U.S. Senate — praised Brown's "courageous and articulate opposition to the Obama administration's government-run health-care scheme.""Florida's GOP candidates rush to claim they're like Massachusetts victor Scott Brown".
Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio — Crist's primary opponent — said Brown's win "reinvigorated those who believe Washington's endless spending and government growth are incompatible with America's proven tradition" of faith in the private sector.
Attorney General Bill McCollum, the GOP candidate for governor, got in on the act.
Related: The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Depending on who is spinning it, the vote is seen as a boost for the GOP or a sign that voters are angry at current leaders." "What does vote mean for Florida?"
AIF comforts pollution profiteers
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "By the state's own measurements, 1,000 miles of its rivers and streams, 350,000 acres of its lakes and 900 square miles of its estuaries are impaired by pollutants (as reported in 2008). "
The culprits: primarily nitrogen and phosphorus in runoff from lawn and farm fertilizers; and under-treated discharges from sewage treatment plants. These reduce dissolved oxygen and make the water cloudy, preventing sunlight's penetration. This encourages algae blooms -- sometimes turning surface waters green as grass -- harmful to aquatic plants and animals, coral reefs and drinking water supplies, blooms that can cause breathing problems and skin infections for swimmers, boaters and others."On Friday, following an independent review of its methodology, the [EPA] published its proposed standards, devised specifically for Florida."
Florida's had 10 years to clean up its surface waters since the Environmental Protection Agency ordered it and other foot-dragging states to comply with federal law.
Florida's business and farm leaders are screaming. "Onerous" and "idiotic" were two descriptions of the standards offered by Barney Bishop, president of Associated Industries of Florida, as reported by the Miami Herald. Industry leaders predict compliance will cost polluters $50 billion and stifle business recruitment and job growth in the state. EPA analysts estimate the cost at about $1.5 billion, not counting upgrades to public stormwater systems. But business, farm and growth interests in Florida decried the Clean Water Act before its adoption in 1972 along the same lines -- it will cost too much; now's not the time. They forget the economic losses this state incurs from pollution of its surface waters -- damaged fisheries, less tourism, health problems . . . . And they would have the public forget that years of delay compound the nutrient problems even as the construction costs to rid the state's waters of pollutants escalate."much more here: Clean-water rule". The Miami Herald editors: "New EPA water rules worth every penny".
If this isn't the time for Florida to clean up its waters, there won't be a better one. Too bad it took a lawsuit and a federal mandate to force the issue. The only idiocy here is to allow those who profit by polluting Florida's waters to perpetuate the lie that the state's doing all it can afford to comply with the Clean Water Act. It isn't, it wasn't and it won't unless made to. And that's what's onerous.
Central Florida wingnuts are outraged believe that the tea bag victory in Mass didn't get more play in the Orlando Sentinel: "Incredulous at story play" and "A replay' of Sentinel's' election-night meeting".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Marco Rubio's campaign appearance in Tampa Wednesday was at a ribbon-cutting for Everest Online University, now finishing a building where it employs some 800 people."
But the career-education facility has a long history here, including an investigation led by Rubio's opponent in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Charlie Crist, now governor but formerly state attorney general."Rubio speaks at school Crist once investigated".
Everest is one of a number of private, for-profit, vocational education companies nationwide, which are growing fast and branching out to offer bachelor's and master's degrees.
It teaches classes in 14 locations in Florida, and the online operation claims 15,000 students nationwide.
But starting in 2005, Everest, formerly known as Florida Metropolitan University, was investigated by the Florida state attorney general over allegations that it misled paying students as to whether the credits they earn could transfer to other universities. ...
The school's corporate parent ended up agreeing to settlements to resolve investigations in Florida and California, paying about $100,000 in state legal costs in Florida and about $6.5 million in California.
The Mouse is a RPOFer
"Disney was especially generous to the state Republican Party, which isn’t surprising since the GOP controls both the governor’s office and the state Legislature in Florida. Disney gave $205,000 in direct contributions to the Republican Party of Florida and about $52,000 more in freebies, or “in kind” donations." "Disney World gave $550,000 to Florida politicians and political groups in 2009>".
Mica's "Lexus lanes"
"U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park is trying to shake up transportation in Central Florida, from suggesting the leasing of tolls roads to even adding pay lanes to Interstate 4. ... Many motorists object to the notion, calling it a 'Lexus lane' plan that only helps rich people get where they want to go faster." "Mica: Let's consider toll-road leases, I-4 pay lanes".
"Dockery hopes third time is charm for legislative ethics rule".
No joy in "America's biggest battleground state"
"Republicans throughout the country have lots of reason for optimism one day after the bombshell election in Massachusetts. But in Florida it should give people some pause to consider where the state GOP in America's biggest battleground state stands today at the start of an incredibly busy and volatile election year: A skeleton crew remains at the state headquarters in Tallahassee. And there is no consensus and plenty of internal dissension on the question of who should be elected chairman next month, John Thrasher or Sharon Day." "The Fla GOP soap opera continues".
We're sure that made them feel better
"Crist toured a facility that has become a point of entry for U.S. nationals and non-Haitian foreigners fleeing the earthquake-devastated nation." "Crist tours facility for Haiti quake survivors".
Prepaid tuition plan
"Is the Florida Prepaid tuition plan still a good investment in education?".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "It's awkward enough that Broward County Undersheriff Tom Wheeler finds himself under scrutiny for associating with Scott Rothstein, the disbarred lawyer accused of running a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. Worse is his boss's very public waffling regarding a probe into whether Wheeler violated state ethics law." "Sheriff adds to awkwardness of aide's Rothstein connection, gift-reporting lapse".
How long before we hear calls for Manatee hunting?
"Record number of manatees counted".
"Mike Thomas' commentary Sunday on Medicare Advantage (Bill Nelson's Medi-scare will cost us) was way over the top, without credibility. He characterized as a flimflam my Medicare Advantage amendment to the health-care bill that would transitionally protect the benefits of nearly a million seniors currently enrolled in these plans." "Nelson responds: Amendment about fairness, not flimflam".