Crist sends "a strong signal"
William March: "Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of the controversial Senate Bill 6, and the reaction from leaders of his own Republican Party, sent a strong signal Thursday that he'll run for the U.S. Senate as an independent."
In the immediate aftermath of the veto, Crist's political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, resigned as chairman of Crist's campaign."Crist's veto a sign he will run for Senate as an independent". See also "Retribution begins: Crist loses Cannon endorsement because of teacher pay veto".
Crist began his political career as a volunteer on Mack's 1988 Senate race, and later adopted Mack's political philosophy as his own motto – "Less taxes, less government, more freedom."
The bill has become a cause célèbre among national conservative education reformers, and reaction to Crist's veto ranged from a scornful news release from Newt Gingrich to withdrawals of endorsements from legislators including incoming state House Speaker Dean Cannon.
"Charlie Crist broke from Republican policy and politicians and set the stage for an independent run for the Senate. For Crist, such a strategy would complete his political evolution." "A declaration of independence".
More: "Veto could hurt Crist's Senate chances" and "Merit pay veto could alter Crist's political course" ("Republicans say the move wipes out the governor's chances of beating U.S. Senate rival Marco Rubio in the Republican primary.")
See also Steve Bousquet's "With veto, Crist sets stage for independent run", "Veto clearly ends teacher bill this year, but muddies Crist's future political course" and "Merit pay veto fuels question: Will Crist run as an independent?".
"The point of no return for Crist"
Paul Flemming: "Will he or won't he?"
Before Thursday, that was the question in Tallahassee. Now, it remains and then some.Much more here: "Thoughts on politics and reptiles".
The immediate query was whether Gov. Charlie Crist would veto merit-pay-for-teachers legislation. On Thursday, he did, heartening teachers and angering fellow Republicans in the Legislature.
The verse may be different, but the song remains the same.
Will he or won't he run for U.S. Senate as an independent?
Falling in the polls, tacking against the initiatives of his own party (insurance deregulation is the next big conflict) and seeing poll numbers that show a glimmer of hope as an independent make it an intriguing question for Crist. ...
The real watch begins at noon on April 26. That's when qualifying for federal candidates begins. It ends at noon April 30. That's the point of no return for Crist.
He can't file as a Republican, lose in the primary and then run in the general election as an independent. He's got to pick his horse now.
Got any more "devious plans" Jebbie?
"The [vetoes] measure was a session priority for Republican party leaders, who rammed the legislation through committees and floor debates as public outcry grew."
It first passed in the Senate in a tight 21-17 vote. House leaders made a no-amendment rule to avoid a second vote in the more moderate Senate. The bill passed in the House 64-55."Gov. Charlie Crist vetoes Florida teacher pay bill; what happens next?".
The strategy aimed at ensuring the bill's passage, but may have backfired. Crist criticized the process Thursday, saying the legislation was ``sped through without meaningful input.''
Response from lawmakers was swift and mostly split along party lines.
"Disappointed'' was the word of the day for many Republican supporters. "Gloating'' was the choice for many of the bill's opponents -- from both parties.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who lobbied hard for the bill, was one of the many disheartened Republicans.
"By taking this action, Gov. Crist has jeopardized the ability of Florida to build on the progress of the last decade,'' said Bush, chairman of the Foundation for Florida's Future, in a statement.
"SB 6 proponents look to next year for merit pay issue". See also "Teachers celebrate victory" and "Online uprising by teachers, parents turns to joy after Crist vetoes teacher-pay legislation".
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "Crist courageously stood up to members of his own political party Thursday by vetoing Senate Bill 6. The bill embraced reasonable concepts but was fatally flawed in the way it implemented them. The next time Republican legislators tackle these issues, they should invite educators to help work out the details." "A stand for real reform". Related: "Crist Veto As It Happened".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Don't be fooled. The two joint resolutions before the Legislature are another attempt to allow the state government to fund religious schools, potentially even when those schools or programs exclude people based on, say, a different religion, their race or sexual orientation. Florida's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission entertained opening the state's door to state-funded religious activity in 2008 but didn't succeed." "Stealth school vouchers".
"A state House committee spent the morning on a trio of measures that would tell the federal government what to do about terrorists, taxes and health care." "State House panel passes bill telling feds what to do about terrorists, taxes, health care".
"South Florida Tea Party activists dodged rain showers Thursday to mark a second year of boisterous Tax Day protests, eager to build on momentum they've demonstrated in races including Florida's heated U.S. Senate contest."
As Tea Partiers across the country held similar rallies, more than 1,000 gathered outside the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, a jazz band lending a festive air as they railed against government spending, the new healthcare law, Congress and the president."For the Tea Party, a time to take stand". See also "600 rally at Capitol as GOP leaders call for more freedom from federal fiscal policies" and "Tea party activists rally on Tax Day". Related: "Local tax day protests march to national beat" and "Notes From a Tea Party".
"Change the regime. We don't like socialism,'' said tuba player Frank Hubbell, 78, of Miramar, attending his fourth Tea Party protest. ...
Though the loosely organized coalition of Tea Partiers have been difficult to define, new surveys offer a look at their demographics. According to polls, including one by the New York Times/CBS News, supporters tend to be white, well-educated, Republican, married and older than 45
Matt Towery thinks the "Establishment Terrified by Tea Party Movement".
"GOP seeks amendment to FairDistricts ballot proposals". See also "House Panel Takes Up Redistricting".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Give the Florida Legislature credit. Lawmakers pushed their way into the delicate negotiations between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe over a new gambling compact. It also took a lawsuit to get state lawmakers in the mix, and this month, the Legislature actually ended up crafting a much better deal that provides something for most of the stakeholders." "New gambling deal as a good a bet as Florida will see". See also "Senate OKs Seminole Compact".
Daniel Ruth: "Even wackos should stand and be counted".
"Obama told anxious space workers that, despite the pending end to the space shuttle and the shelving of the spacecraft that would replace it, 'what we're looking for is not just continuing.'" "Obama at Kennedy Space Center: 'I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA'". See also "Obama Paints Vision for Florida and Space".
Joel Engelhardt: "Is U.S. Sugar citrus land worthless?".
They said it
If you're going to call this "reform" (as if it is a good thing), we won't let you get away with this slip of the keyboard:
The bill would have positioned Florida as a leader in education reform statewideAccording to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, "reform" means "to put or change into an improved form or condition". Who made the editorial decision to accept that what the Jebbites were pushing in Tally "improved" the current system?
"Worker-bashing is all the rage"
Scott Maxwell: "Worker-bashing is all the rage in Tallahassee."
Lawmakers, you see, are desperate to balance the budget — and yet unwilling to close tax loopholes for their special-interest buddies."Democratic omens, worker-bashing and much more".
So they have set up the boogeyman of the allegedly high-paid government worker — emergency workers, teachers and parks employees who supposedly live taxpayer-financed lives of luxury.
Never mind that the average state worker makes about $35,000 a year. ...
But politicians in this state would much rather tick off working-class employees than their upper-income campaign donors. So they have decided to portray state workers as overpaid, over-benefitted leeches.
Only they're not. So says the Legislature itself.
The state's very own Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability recently released a report that said Florida trails the nation when it comes to worker compensation and that most workers make less, including benefits, than those with comparable jobs in the private sector.
So, while it may be easy to beat on the working-class Joes who serve and protect, it doesn't seem terribly accurate.
"The House advanced its Medicaid overhaul Thursday, approving the plan that would steer 2.7 million low-income Floridians into HMOs and provider-service networks by 2015." "Florida House passes Medicaid overhaul measure". See also "House Sets Stage for Medicaid Vote".
"Appliance rebate program starts today in Florida".
"The game is on"
The Miami Herald editors: "When it comes to the laws and enforcement of growth management, the Florida Legislature excels at playing games. Last year, in the name of fostering jobs, lawmakers adopted a bill allowing builders of large developments to evade paying for the road improvements these projects inevitably require. Now, local taxpayers must foot the bill."
This piece of irresponsible sophistry did not improve Florida's economy. The construction industry is still in the doldrums."Florida's Department of Community Affairs in peril".
This year, the Department of Community Affairs, final enforcer of growth-management laws, is up for the sunset review process that state agencies undergo every 10 years. The Senate is set to reenact the DCA, meaning its budget and programs will be reinstated without change. That's the right course for the agency that stands between more sprawl and sustainable growth.
Over in the House, though, the game is on.