The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Hardly anyone in Florida hasn't felt the sting of the state's economy, from its hemorrhaging housing market to its dangerously high unemployment."
Given that harsh landscape, shouldn't the state take some correspondingly tough steps to make ends meet, just as families and business owners throughout Florida are having to do with their own budgets? "Dancing around the pain".
Last week, however, Florida's governor said, "Tut, tut."
Or words to that effect. He proposed a spending plan for the new fiscal year that, he said, "ensures a bright and prosperous future for our state."
He offered up everything to everyone. Corporate income tax cuts on the first $1 million in profits and a 10-day back-to-school sales-tax holiday.
Job security for nearly 130,000 state employees (no furloughs, layoffs or salary cuts). And even incentives for employees. He suggested giving agency heads the "flexibility to use unspent appropriations to provide salary increases for employees in occupations that are experiencing excessive turnover … [and] merit pay increases … to deserving employees."
He recommended upping per-pupil spending by $179; increasing funding for community colleges by $67million; and even boosting bonuses for nationally certified teachers by $10.2 million.
What Mr. Crist neglected to offer up was a budget even remotely based on reality
"Justice Department prosecutors now say they'll likely charge more defendants in March as part of the public corruption indictment against one-time major Republican fundraiser Alan Mendelsohn."
Mendelsohn, a Broward County eye doctor, is accused of raising more than $2 million to influence Florida legislators -- including secretly paying $87,000 to an unidentified former public official and spending hundreds of thousands more on his children's education and his former mistress. ..."More face charges in GOP fundraiser Alan Mendelsohn case".
Mendelsohn's indictment was the first stemming from a long-running corruption investigation by the Justice Department into Mendelsohn and a major campaign contributor Joel Steinger, former chief of Mutual Benefits. Steinger received immunity from prosecutors in that probe. But Steinger, his brother Steven, and two lawyers are under indictment in Miami in a separate, massive fraud case related to Mutual Benefits' sale of life insurance policies belonging to people dying of AIDS and other illnesses.
"Dramatic changes in how NASA functions"
"Obama wants to make dramatic changes in how NASA functions, jettisoning plans to return to the moon, letting private companies handle human transport into lower orbit and focusing the nation's space agency on new rocket technology. But Obama's failure to extend the space shuttle program, which is expected to end by early 2011, and his decision to cancel the moon program launched by George W. Bush in 2004, means the imminent loss of at least 7,000 jobs in Florida and a sense of betrayal along the Space Coast."
private enterprise is only expected to generate 1,700 jobs in Florida, far short of the 7,000 jobs evaporating with the end of the space shuttle program."Florida feels heat of NASA cutbacks". See also "Obama's NASA plan: Swap rockets for research".
Mike Thomas: "Our socialist president has taken on the demeanor of a CEO in dealing with NASA."
Barack Obama wants to stop this silly notion of flying Buck Rogers around the solar system, and turn a bloated manned spaceflight program at least partially over to the private sector."Gripes go into orbit over loss of space pork"
You might think the Republicans would cheer him. Instead, many have joined with Democrats in howling like wolves on a full moon.
Ideology comes in second to the politics of dispensing dollars from Washington.
"More than $16 billion and eight years later after voters put class-size limits into the state constitution, GOP lawmakers are once again trying to weaken the caps while teachers and Democrats are lining up to fight it." "Florida GOP aims to weaken class-size amendment as final caps take effect this year".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "After years of supporting Florida's voter-approved class-size amendment, Gov. Charlie Crist now wants it to go away with a little creative math."
He's proposing another constitutional amendment for voters to remove the limitations that would kick in next school year. Those caps would require 18 students per class in kindergarten to third grade, 22 in fourth through eighth grade and 25 in high school."Don't abandon mandate for small class size".
The governor wants to abandon this wildly popular mandate with a squishy school-wide average. He would let each public school use a school-wide average, factoring the number of students overall with the number of teachers.
Presto, problem solved.
"Democrat Robert Wexler announced in October that he was leaving Congress. But his congressional campaign committee still spent $346,998 during the fourth quarter of 2009, a new report shows. The Wexler campaign paid more than $120,000 in "end-of-career bonuses" to Wexler congressional staffers who doubled as campaign workers. It also spent more than $87,000 on mailings, including 150,000 thank-yous to voters in Palm Beach-Broward congressional District 19 who elected Wexler seven times." "Wexler spent $346,998 in campaign funds after announcing retirement".
Meantime, George Bennett reports that "Polls open Tuesday to pick party nominees for Wexler's congressional seat".
"DNA taken from the jacket of Scott Rothstein's murdered law partner matches the man who is charged with strangling her and dumping her body in a canal, according to police reports reviewed by the Sun Sentinel." "Police: DNA in Rothstein law partner's slaying matches suspect" ("Defense lawyers question why Rothstein wasn't interviewed"). Related: "Melissa Lewis spent her last day alive asking two law firm colleagues about preparing a will, according to police interviews in the files of her murder case." "Michael Mayo: Just before murder, Melissa Lewis inquired about will".
"City clears police chief's role in Rothstein-related crash".
I am shocked, shocked ...
"Incumbent Rooney has fiscal advantage in race to keep his state District 16 seat". Related: "Craft, of St. Lucie, named 'recruiting dud' in Congress race by Politico.com".
Tea partiers outraged!
"Florida's schools, working parents and waterways would fare well in President Barack Obama's proposed budget for the next fiscal year. In what was expected to be a lean budget full of bad news, Obama asked Congress on Monday to spend $263 million to help restore the Everglades and millions more to help Florida parents pay for child care and college tuition." "Florida schools and working parents could fare well in Obama budget".
RPOFer Car salesman shares his wisdom
"Buchanan: Let military prosecute terrorists".
You know Mr. Buchanan, the fellow whose " ethics issues stem from pressuring his employees to make contributions to his campaign committee and improper use of corporate resources for campaign purposes. Rep. Buchanan was included in CREW’s 2008 report on congressional corruption."
"State backs down, won't ban throwaway bags".
"Tampa is once again a finalist for the Republican National Convention, competing for the honor against Salt Lake City and Phoenix." "Tampa again eyed for GOP convention".
When government is run like a business
Steve Otto passes on this letter he received from one Doris Weatherford - an author of several what he calls "outstanding" books on women - about the Trib's recent stories on the Tampa Bay Work Force Alliance; she writes that
This is what can be expected when voters accept that mantra that 'government should be run like a business.' It isn't at all unusual for business executives to spend big bucks wining and dining themselves. Stockholders view it as routine and rarely call for accountability, while the IRS sanctions it by making entertainment a legitimate business write-off. The agency's head, Rebecca Gilmore, is a Republican appointee who ran her office like a business - and spent freely on what she called 'corporate meetings.' Apparently no one explained to her that people paid with public funds are held to much stricter standards than those in private enterprise. The realty is that Florida state employees (and even volunteers who donate their time to state commissions) often lose personal money when they conduct state business. Especially for travel, official reimbursement rates seldom cover actual costs."Railing about the government".
More important, the agency's name itself denotes the hypocrisy of Jeb Bush's administration. In other states, this governmental function is called the 'employment service' - but Jeb substituted the private sounding 'Agency for Workforce innovation' at the state level, and regional bodies followed with similar names and attitudes."
Thank you, Ms. Weatherford.
"Florida lawmakers will take up legislation Tuesday that would outlaw private conversations between Public Service Commission staff members and utility companies, a response to criticism that the agency is too close to the utilities it regulates." "Legislature to grapple with plan to tighten ethics loopholes at PSC".
"No charges for man who shot 4 suspected burglars".