FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.

 

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The Blog for Monday, February 08, 2010

Crist budget "on shaky ground"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors:
    Florida lawmakers, facing the onerous task of building a 2010-11 state budget with the glimmer of modestly increasing revenue but fast-growing expenses, have largely dismissed Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed spending plan. They've balked at its $69.2 billion size, roughly 4 percent higher than the current year, and lamented his use of creative financing. Yet Crist is right that the state should start investing again in improving education and protecting the environment — even if he is on shaky ground about paying for it.
    "Getting Florida back on track".


    FCAT follies

    "There are only four weeks left before the reading and math portions of the FCAT — the writing test begins Tuesday — and more than 9,500 struggling students in Palm Beach and Broward counties are each receiving up to $1,500 worth of free tutoring."

    That adds up to more than $14 million in federal funds that the school districts pay local tutoring firms.
    "After $14 million spent, does FCAT tutoring work?"


    We agree, "Run, Sarah, Run!"

    "'America is ready for another revolution!' she told the gathering. ... All she offered was a smile when a moderator asking her questions used the phrase 'President Palin.' That prompted most in the audience to stand up and chant 'Run, Sarah, Run!'" "Sarah Palin tells 'tea party' crowd that 'America is ready for another revolution'".


    Have they "taken leave of their senses?"

    Bill Cotterell: "State Sen. Mike Bennett and state Rep. Dwayne Taylor have introduced a bill requiring the state's expert policy analysts to do a study of having a full-time Legislature."

    This raises several questions, not the least of which is, "Have state Sen. Mike Bennett and state Rep. Dwayne Taylor taken leave of their senses?" Their bill (SB 1732 and HB 863) is subject to amendment in the committee process and might be broadened to include a study of whether there's a constitutional way to stop those two guys from introducing any more bills.

    No, seriously, this is an idea that merits serious study. We're the fourth-largest state, soon to be the third-largest, and the issues our lawmakers deal with are too complex and expensive to cram into a 60-day session. That's especially true the way they do it, using the first five or six weeks on routine matters and committee hearings, then ramrodding the budget and all the mega-issues through in the chaotic final few days.
    "A full-time Legislature?".


    An election year

    "Fewer Florida politicians are flying on the taxpayer's dime, as charges for flights on state planes have dropped 63 percent over two years. In 2007, nearly $1.1 million was spent, compared to $407,420 in 2009." "Fewer politicians flying on Florida's dime".


    At the trough

    "Lobbyists and legislators munched hors d'oeuvres and sipped scotch in a rooftop ballroom with a nice view of the Capitol last week in an annual ritual as important to Florida politics as mass mailings and attack ads. Forbidden to raise money when the Legislature is in session, members are passing the hat now for a hot summer campaign season costing millions. For all the money that will be spent, Republican control of the House or Senate is unlikely to change." "Lawmakers gear up for fundraising".


    LeMieux's good question resonates

    "The Senate's lead Toyota investigator, West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller, credits himself with lobbying Toyota to build a factory in his state."

    Strickland has such close relationships with Rockefeller and other senators that Republican Sen. George LeMieux of Florida asked Strickland at his confirmation hearing two months ago whether he could disagree with Rockefeller, his former boss: "The oversight for you in your role will be from the committee that you once served on," LeMieux told him.

    "I will be honest with you, sir," Strickland answered. "I've had disagreements with the chairman personally. But he signs the paycheck, and he wins. But I will have no problem with that all, sir."

    Rockefeller sees no reason to step aside from his committee's investigation. Consumer protection is a cornerstone of his work as chairman and that is reflected in the steps he and the committee are taking, including NHTSA briefings and plans to hold hearings and seek recall-related documents, Rockefeller spokeswoman Jamie Smith said.
    "The Influence Game: Toyota's powerful DC friends".

    Although a good question, it is kinda ironic coming from LeMieux, a man familiar with "the influence game".


    "Harder to find fat to trim"

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "This is the third year of budget cuts for local governments, so it is harder to find fat to trim."

    Voters passed Amendment 1, the Legislature capped allowable increases in local property taxes, and the recession triggered a steep decline in property values. Pinellas city and county officials already have eliminated open positions, laid off employees, reduced library and park hours, canceled programs, frozen salaries, raised health insurance premiums, limited travel and cut energy costs. Still, millions more must be cut before Oct. 1.

    With the mission of local governments pared down by economic conditions, state spending limits and voter demands for lower taxes, there are going to be fundamental changes to popular programs that once would have been off-limits.
    "Get ready: More cuts on the way".


    On the cheap

    Here's an idea: why doesn't Florida do everything on the cheap, and when the infrastructure collapses every time it gets a bit chilly, beg the federal government (read: other states) to subsidize our failure to do things properly in the first place.

    Consider: "The recent cold snap that resulted in more than a week of below-freezing temperatures took a toll on Tampa's aging infrastructure, and its finances. For the past two weeks, city workers and private contractors [likely without health insurance or retirement plans] have been busy repairing more than 1,600 breaks in water distribution pipes throughout the city." "Cold snap wreaked havoc on Tampa's water pipes".


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