"Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Monday announced a group of ardently conservative and notably controversial economic thinkers who will advise him on his first budget proposal."
Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Monday announced a group of ardently conservative and notably controversial economic thinkers who will advise him on his first budget proposal."Scott names economic advisors".
Scott has set the bar high for the cast of six, which includes Donna Arduin and Arthur Laffer, whose "Laffer Curve" became the basis for using tax cuts as a way stimulating the economy and a pillar of Ronald Reagan's economic philosophy -- and is blamed for leading the country into the largest deficit in decades. ...
Heading the team will be Arduin, who as budget chief to former Gov. Jeb Bush and then to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earned a reputation as a proponent of deep cuts to social programs and privatizing government services. She has also worked for governors in Michigan and New York and is known to promote performance-based budgeting, forcing agencies to reach specific goals in order to receive funding.
Also among Scott's economic line-up is Tad DeHaven, of the Cato Institute, who has authored works condemning runaway federal spending.
The announcement brought sharp criticism from Bruce Nissen, director of research at the Center for Labor Research and Studies at Florida International University.
"[Laffer's] theory basically doesn't hold water and Donna Arduin is one of his disciples," Nissen said. "When you compliment that with extreme libertarian thinking of individuals from the Cato Institute and the rest, you get some extremely unorthodox and unusual economic policies."
The impact, Nissen said, will be felt by anyone who relies on social services and public education: "Anybody's who's on the lower 60 to 70 percent of the economic spectrum, they'll be the economic losers."
"Florida lawmakers are poised to do something they haven't done in 12 years and that they've accomplished only twice in the last 24 -- override a governor's veto."
The Republican-controlled Legislature's agenda for a planned one-day special session today includes override votes on up to seven bills and one budget item. All were vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Charlie Crist, who quit the GOP to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent."Today's special session challenges Gov. Crist's vetoes".
"As Florida legislators meet Tuesday in a one-day special session to restore into law a handful of bills vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist, they have agreed to remove two controversial items as a concession to both Gov.-elect Rick Scott and a bipartisan group of doctors and legislators."
Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, agreed Monday to drop their attempt to override Crist's veto of a bill that would allow doctors to repackage and distribute prescription drugs to workers' compensation patients because the controversial issue would be better left to next year's regular session."Florida lawmakers pare list of vetoes to override Tuesday". Related: "Mike Haridopolos, Dean Cannon Cut Two Bills from Special Session Agenda" and "Legislature will let two Crist vetoes stand to please Scott and doctors".
The new leaders also will not pursue a measure to remove the Department of Management Services from the governor's office and place it under the Florida Cabinet, whose members are independently elected, because Scott said he wants to reorganize the agency.
The Tampa Tribune editorial board writes that "legislators may consider an insidious scheme that would destroy the state's ability to safeguard the public's health and the environment. The governor was wise to veto House Bill 1565, which was designed to politicize the state's rule-making process and thus prevent agencies from adopting effective rules."
The current system does not allow state regulators to steamroll opponents. But this bill would enable regulated interests to trample public concerns."Attack on public safeguards".
This Legislature, rightly, wants to make it easier to do business in Florida. But the state is not going to revive its economy by squandering its natural resources and threatening the public's health.
See also "Florida lawmakers holding double sessions", "Special session to start today" and "Lawmakers drop session override effort on 2 bills".
Ricky's $2.5 billion shortfall
"Gov.-elect Rick Scott has an aggressive and pricey agenda for his first year in office that includes slashing corporate income taxes, school property levies and state development rules."
Florida's budget woes, political and institutional intransigence in Tallahassee, and Scott's own lack of experience could all work against expectations that his first year in office could mirror former Gov. Jeb Bush's, which produced $1 billion in tax cuts and set the table for years of privatization and socially conservative policy debates."Budget woes will impact Scott agenda".
But back then, Florida's growth-fueled economic engine was purring. Scott inherits an economy still hung over from a historic real-estate meltdown, and burgeoning demand for government services, from food stamps to classroom costs and health care for the sick and poor.
Increasing government costs and dwindling federal stimulus cash will leave Florida budget-writers facing a $2.5 billion shortfall. That's before the $700 million in corporate income tax cuts and $1.4 billion in school property tax cuts that Scott has pledged to push his first year.
"Don't hold your breath"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Over the past decade, Medicaid spending in Florida has roughly tripled to exceed $20 billion a year, more than a quarter of the state's budget. It is on track to top $25 billion and a third of the budget by 2014. While federal funds currently cover about two-thirds of Medicaid's cost in Florida, that share will drop next year unless Congress approves another round of aid to states. After the backlash against federal spending seen in this month's election results, don't hold your breath." "Florida legislators need to get control of runaway costs in Medicaid".
Haridopolos' and Cannon hand out the goodies
"With Republicans holding a 28-12 Senate majority, incoming President Mike Haridopolos rewarded allies and sought to maximize senators' experience. He also left no doubt about who's in his corner and who isn't." "Despite ethics complaints, Jim Norman snares chairmanship in state Senate". See also "Mike Haridopolos Names Senate Committee Chairs", "Cannon appoints 'Fair Districts' foe as chair of state House redistricting committee" and "Dean Cannon Names Committee Chairs to Lead House Till 2012".
Florida's "exaggerated, doomsday claims''
"For months, everyone from Florida's new Republican governor to its Democratic senator to its farmers, sewer plant operators and utilities has been trying to get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to back off new water pollution standards for Florida."
Cleaning up the waterways, they warned, would ruin the state's already shaky economy."State gets break on cleaning waterways". See also "Federal official defends water quality rules" and "New EPA Water Nutrient Requirements Draw Ire of Business, State Leaders" ("House and Senate leadership pledges to stop the federal government's 'overreach' ").
On Monday, EPA officials announced they were ready to unveil the new pollution limits for Florida's rivers, lakes and springs -- but with a catch.
The federal agency will not implement the 168 pages of new standards, which could cost residents an extra 11 to 20 cents a day per household, for another 15 months.
The delay is necessary to counteract all the "exaggerated, doomsday claims'' that opponents have been spreading, explained the EPA's Atlanta regional administrator, Gwen Keyes Fleming.
"Tons of buried oil and tar"
"BP cleanup contractors say they will step up efforts in coming weeks to collect tons of buried oil and tar beneath the surface of beaches and waterways in Escambia County." "BP to tackle tricky cleanup of submerged oil, tar".
New kids on the block
"Eleven new members take their seats and two former leaders return to the Legislature's upper house when the Senate meets Tuesday in special session." "Meet the Newest Members of the Florida Senate".
Very short timers
"The two most recently-named Public Service commissioners are yet to make a regulatory ruling, but with a new governor taking office in January, they could have short terms." "Fate of Crist's PSC Picks Rests With Scott".
"Incoming state House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, announced today the chairs of the Florida House’s key committees for the 2011 legislative session. State Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, will chair the Judiciary Committee, which considers civil and criminal law issues, public safety, and the administration of justice through the court system. In August, Snyder announced, along with Attorney General Bill McCollum, draft language of an immigration bill that mimics Arizona’s controversial S.B. 1070." "Proponent of Arizona-style immigration law to chair Judiciary Committee".
A wingnut's dream
"Gov.-elect Rick Scott will continue to push public funds to private schools through vouchers, charter schools and the Voluntary Pre-K Program. These Jeb Bush-era reforms coincided with laws to grade public schools and expand standardized tests such as the FCAT. The Foundation for Florida’s Future, chaired by Bush, parallels Scott’s education policies." "Scott plan calls for continued public spending on private education".
"Amid national excitement over his candidacy, incoming Sen. Marco Rubio kept a low profile as he met with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson." "Marco Rubio brings the buzz to D.C.". See also "Rubio goes for low-key introduction".
"Waste seeps into the aquifer and goes with the flow"
Mike Thomas: "There are certain things you do not do in a civilized society. One is digging a pit latrine in your yard."
But that's pretty much the situation we have in Florida with old, unmaintained septic tanks."Undoing new septic-tank law is stinky idea".
That they are hidden underground doesn't change the gross reality of what they are dumping into our water. The waste seeps into the shallow aquifer and goes with the flow, often to the nearest spring or lake.
This year the Legislature passed a bill requiring that the systems be inspected every five years. This caused a revolt among many septic-tank owners who denounced it as a costly, big-government intervention.
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Today in Tallahassee, the new Florida Legislature looks poised to ensure that future generations inherit a more polluted state. An innocuous sounding plan by Republican leaders to delay for six months the implementation of a state septic tank inspection program is just a prelude to repealing the program next spring. That may satisfy angry constituents in rural Florida, but it will further foul the water all Floridians depend on. It would be just one more example of how state government can't be trusted to comply with the nation's Clean Water Act — which will ultimately cost all taxpayers." "A vote for dirty water".
Hispanic vote flips
"Overlooked amid all the good news for the Republican Party on Nov. 2: After losing the Hispanic vote in 2008 and 2006 in Florida, the GOP got it back in 2010." "Hispanic community goes Republican in latest election".
"Wage theft is when workers are paid below the minimum wage, not paid for overtime, forced to work off the clock, have their time cards altered, are misclassified as independent contractors, or are simply not paid a wage for work performed. Certain types of workers are more vulnerable to wage theft violations, such as low-wage and immigrant workers who encompass a large scope of Florida’s workforce." "Wage Theft in Florida: A Real Problem with Real Solutions -Fact Sheet".