FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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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, March 01, 2010

"Lawmakers walking a tightrope"

    "Dozens of Florida lawmakers, including Senate President Jeff Atwater, are giving up their posts early to run for higher office this year. As a result, expect to see a 2010 session of lawmakers walking a tightrope as they try to balance not just the state budget, but their legislative bills with their political futures." "2010 Florida legislature: Will ambition smother action?".

    Mary Ellen Klas: "To pinch pennies and get out of town in time to hit the campaign trail, Florida's 160 legislators will reduce, reuse and recycle."
    They are rummaging through the legislative salvage yard for proposals that won't cost money because the annual session that opens Tuesday will be dominated by a $3.2 billion budget gap in an unusually busy election year.

    Lawmakers will consider anti-corruption measures, shifting tax breaks from one group to another, and attaching the "jobs" label to anything that has a prospect of saving money or attracting new employment.

    With nearly two dozen members of the House and Senate, the governor, lieutenant governor and three of the four Cabinet members seeking higher office, everyone is treading lightly. Few politicians want to be identified with anything that's remotely controversial, so initiatives on oil drilling, property insurance and health insurance reform will likely be delayed until next year.
    "Lawmakers tread lightly into session".

    "Heading into a third straight year of budget cutting, state Rep. Bill Galvano says he feels as if he's playing an old-fashioned pegboard game."
    Just as jumping and removing pegs from the board becomes harder with every turn, "it's getting tougher and tougher every time to resolve all of our budget questions with the amount of money available to us," said Galvano, R-Bradenton. "It'll be very difficult, and some very hard decisions will have to be made."

    Those decisions promise to dominate the upcoming session in which lawmakers will struggle to come up with ways to fill a budget shortfall that could exceed $3 billion next fiscal year.

    Cuts to health care. Cuts to prisons. Cuts to universities.

    Like it or not, every part of the now-$66.7 billion budget will probably suffer, said Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
    "Legislature opens session Tuesday looking at budget shortfall".


    No $133.75 barber shop visits for Atwater?

    "Unlike some other Republican bigs entrusted with state GOP-issued American Express cards, Senate President and chief financial officer candidate Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, says he never used his card for anything like a $3,600 dinner at The Breakers or a $133.75 barber shop visit." "To his credit, Atwater says his spending an open book".


    GOPerettes a factor?

    "The 2010 elections are filled with opportunities for conservative gains, if Republican women organize and unify, two veteran GOP leaders said Sunday." "Women of GOP could be factor this fall".


    Privatization alert

    "As Medicaid swells in cost and number of recipients, some Republican legislative leaders are increasingly interested in putting more of the program's patients into HMOs, giving the private companies more control over the state-federal program for the poor." "As costs rise, lawmakers eye HMOs".


    "Plenty forgiving"

    "Amid revelations about how Republican U.S. Senate front-runner Marco Rubio wielded his Florida GOP credit card as state House speaker (not exactly conservatively), it seems some of his most vocal conservative supporters are plenty forgiving." "Times: Supporters dismiss Marco Rubio's use of Florida GOP credit card".


    Census

    "On March 15, the U.S. Census Bureau will mail out questionnaires to 130 million households. The forms should be filled out and mailed back by April 1 — Census Day." "To be counted, here's what counts with the 2010 census".


    "Not a great sign"

    "Not a great sign for a campaign already facing widespread doubts about its strength and stability: Marc Farinella, general consultant to the Alex Sink gubernatorial campaign, has left the campaign. ... Sink's new general consultant is Ken Morley, who managed the 2008 campaign of Gov. Jay Nixon in Missouri and Sen. Ben Cardin in Maryland in 2006. He also managed Scott Maddox's short-lived gubernatorial campaign in 2005." "Shakeup on Sink campaign".


    Unemployment

    The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "For the unemployed, two benefits count for more than any other in staving off poverty or bad health: unemployment checks and continued health insurance coverage under COBRA. Congress did its job for those who didn't have a job in 2009. It extended unemployment benefits past the usual 26-week limit. It also made COBRA affordable by subsidizing two-thirds of premium costs. But eligibility to sign up for those extensions ran out Sunday. It's not hyperbole to say that extending them through the end of the year is vital."

    The recession may be officially over, but in reality -- and in Florida especially -- it's nowhere near over. More than 1 million Floridians are unemployed. The unemployment rate, hovering near 12 percent, continues to rise. Unemployment compensation for Floridians, at $275 a week before a federal supplement of $25 is included, is the fourth-lowest benefit in the nation, making it difficult to survive on, but crucial as a supplement to savings and loans from friends and family. Those checks also inject money in local economies, providing a continued stimulus to small businesses while helping the unemployed keep their homes longer as they look for work.

    Extending unemployment benefits is only half the job. The other half is extending the COBRA subsidy.
    "COBRA, jobless benefits boost economy".

    The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Tuesday, opening day of the 2010 legislative session, will be a meaningful one for businesses throughout the state if lawmakers immediately vote to delay a substantial increase in the state's unemployment compensation tax."
    Unless lawmakers act, the minimum tax will increase from $8.40 to $100.30 for each employee, a jump that would hit already struggling businesses and add to their challenge of either laying off employees or not hiring new ones. Either would only make the job market worse, the economy more insecure. ...

    A delay will help employees temporarily, and give lawmakers time to work on a more long-lasting solution.
    "Our Opinion: Save the jobs".


    Keeping up appearances

    "Crist, Atwater and Cretul on mission to keep up appearances during Legislature's 2010 session" "Trio on a mission to keep up appearances through session".


    Gambling

    "Legislators resume attempts to come to a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe as other players push to add more games and gambling options." "Gambling issue back on table for Florida Legislature".


    They said it

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board wants us to "Remember value of prisons".


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