RPOF "ghosts of scandals past"
"The Republican Party of Florida leadership arrived in Orlando full of excitement for its near sweep of November elections and its power to carry Gov.-elect Rick Scott's conservative agenda next year, yet still haunted by ghosts of its scandals past." "State's Republican leaders wrestle with fiscal controls".
Putnam, Bondi "standing stoically with polluters"
Carl Hiaasen writes that those who "use Florida waterways as a latrine got more good news last week from their stooges in Tallahassee. The latest battle to stop the enforcement of federal pollution laws will be paid for by state taxpayers."
Outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson — backed by Attorney General Bill McCollum — has sued to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing revised clean-water standards for Florida’s rivers, creeks and lakes."Florida fights for rights of polluters".
Standing stoically in support of the polluters, McCollum and Bronson say the new water rules are too costly, and based on flawed science (interestingly, data provided by the state itself). Endorsing that lame position are their successors, Attorney General-elect Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Adam Putnam.
To hear all this whining, you’d think the EPA had ambushed Florida businesses with the new water regulations. Not even close.
Jebbie's media friends get to it
"Jeb Bush for president in 2012?".
"Should the governor give back the money?"
Howard Troxler: "Early last year, the president of the United States came to Florida and gave us $1.25 billion for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando."
Then in October, the feds said to Florida, "Hey, are you guys still there?" and gave us another $800 million."So, should the new governor give back the money?"
Finally, just last week the feds said, "All right already, quit twisting our arms!" and gave our state yet another $324 million. So the train is now "paid for."
The real choice, of course, is between (1) blowing the money in Florida or (2) blowing it someplace else."A note of skepticism about high-speed rail".
Given that choice, I know what I'm supposed to say — the same thing as our U.S. senators, our members of Congress, our mayors, our civic and business leaders, our opinion-shapers.
I'm working up to it. Not quite there yet, though.
"Republicans wore red, white and blue wrist bands emblazoned "2012 starts today" at their first post-election state convention Saturday." Related: "Outsider comes inside: Scott makes debut at RPOF convention".
"Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein and four others vying to become head of the state party campaigned in Orlando this weekend with a mixture of chest-thumping over the Nov. 2 election results and reformist pledges for the future. Republicans swept five statewide elections last month, unseated four congressional Democrats and solidified the party's control of the state legislature." "Sid Dinerstein makes his pitch for state's GOP head, along with four others".
Never mind the Constitution
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "State must ease up on levying class size penalties".
Thomas Tryon: "Rick Scott's actions, following his inauguration as governor, will speak louder than the words he's using to guide transition teams. ... In too many ways and too many times, Scott relied on dogmatic but vague slogans during and after his campaign. His recent grandstanding about the cost of dessert served once a week in Florida's prisons did little to advance an intelligent review of the huge costs of the state's corrections system." "Will Scott keep good government promise?".
"Lawmakers in 2008 authorized using pension funds to spur high-tech industries" "Auditors: Too early to evaluate pension-backed fund that created 186 jobs with $73 million.".
Apparently this is not a joke
The latest from the man who pleads the fifth: "Will Scott privatize Florida hospitals?".
Runnin' gubment like a bidness
"One of the big questions surrounding Gov.-elect Rick Scott's plan to cut billions of dollars in taxes is this: Where would he make up the difference? Florida's nearly 700,000 public employees could be about to find out. Scott wants to cut $1.4 billion next year from taxpayer contributions to the public employee pension program, and many legislators have signaled their support for the notion." "Scott may shrink tax money for public employees' pensions".
Well ... we did elect Rick Scott
"We're a bunch of dimwits. That's the verdict from the latest survey of America's smartest communities by Portfolio.com."
Portfolio.com is a pretty respected resource in the business world. And their methodology looks solid. They relied on Census data, measuring the number of residents of each community that had bachelor's degrees, advanced degrees and so forth."Listen up, America: We're not stoopid!"
And education truly can make a difference — both in terms of what individuals make (by 100 percent, in some cases) and in terms of an entire community's economy.
Fortunately, Orlando is on the rise in those respects. We're diversifying our low-wage economy, improving our higher-ed offerings. We opened up a medical school. And we have far fewer school-bus crash derbies and gator-wrestling matches than we used to.
"Republican assault on Florida's public schools"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It is clearer than ever that Republicans intend to mount a frontal assault next year on Florida's public schools. "
Legislators show no interest in building consensus on efforts to abolish teacher tenure and create a merit pay system. Gov.-elect Rick Scott also pledges to slash school property taxes even as declining property values and tax revenues have forced deep spending cuts in education. But those misguided approaches are small potatoes compared with their pursuit of a radical plan to give all students tuition vouchers."Voucher plan would hurt schools".
In Scott's fuzzy vision, every parent would be given public education money to spend on "whatever education system they believe in, whether it's this public school or that public school or this private school or that private school. ...
Now some Republicans are referring to universal vouchers as education savings accounts. Regardless of the packaging, this approach remains fatally flawed in at least three areas: The Florida Constitution ... Tax policy ... Education policy ...
"With a results-oriented new governor and a Republican Legislature that dislikes teacher unions, the political climate is ripe for sweeping education reform in Florida." "Time ripe for education reform".
"Floridians should start setting the example"
Stephen Goldstein: "America needs to become a nation of caregivers, not just gift-givers. We need a sea-change in the way we show we care about others. We need to balance the overwhelming materialism in our culture with a humanitarianism centered in each and every home. And Floridians should start setting the example. " "Crisis of care: Floridians should set a good example".
"Cash-starved county blew $800,000 on severance for fired officials"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "If Congress approves the tax deal struck by President Obama and Republican leaders, some 2 million Americans, including more than 100,000 Floridians, will get an extension on their jobless benefits. In Florida, those checks max out at $300 a week. But for top employees in some governments, taxpayer-supported groups and nonprofits in Central Florida, unemployment can be far more lucrative." "Outrage in Osceola".
Heroes of 2000?
Randy Schultz: "Heroes of the 2000 recount: The Florida Supreme Court".
Blame defined benefit plans
The Miami Herald editorial board joins their big business brethren in pushing to "shift the public-employee pension system to a defined contribution plan or else require employees to contribute to their current defined benefit plans."
The editors whine that "The private sector, federal government and other states have realigned their pension and benefit plans this way to deal with today’s economic reality." "Blueprint for a balanced budget".
And we should do this why? Because the vaunted "private sector" is moving away from defined benefit plans? The Herald editors of course have nothing to say about Florida government employees are already some of the hardest working, lowest paid in the nation: "Last year, on average, state governments had 216 workers for every 10,000 people. Florida had 117 workers. And the national payroll cost of $72-a-year per-resident was nearly double the $38 per-resident Florida paid." See "Aaron Deslatte: State workforce is lean - but who cares".
If the editors were forthcoming, they would be pointing out that Florida's state and local government needs to repair the damage done during the "Jeb!" years, and restore things like the intangibles tax, and otherwise have an honest discussion about public finance*.
Instead, Florida's media companies have for the most part shown themselves incapable of such discourse: as the Chamber of Commerce/TaxWatch lapdogs they - like most if not all of Florida's editorial boards - are, the editors toe the big business line that otherwise under-compensated public employees should not be setting retirement standards that make it difficult for Florida's private sector employers (like media companies) to exploit their employees and keep them in the dark about benefits like defined benefit plans.
National media outlets, like the Washington Post are kind enough to remind Floridians that it was one Jebbie, enabled by his worshipers in the Legislature, who
reduced taxes by $12.2 billion over his eight years, with more than half of that going to the wealthiest 4.5 percent of the population. That saved the average risk taker [sic] more than $1,500 a year by the time Jeb left office. ... Jeb Bush says that his tax cuts created jobs in Florida and gave us the best economy in the country. (In reality, Jeb had the lowest job-creation rate of any Florida governor dating to 1971.)"What Would Jeb Do?" More about the intangibles tax here: "The intangible tax, which was repealed by the Legislature in 2006, was a state tax paid on the value of investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds and unsecured notes. Savings accounts, pension funds, certificates of deposit and 401(k)s are not subject to the tax."
"Jeb Bush and his amen chorus of goose-stepping legislators" exacerbated Florida's budget crisis, yet the only solutions we hear from the chatters are things like cutting pensions, and the failed Laffer curve. For more on the latter laughter, see "A Real Laffer: Rick Scott's Economic Guru Is 'Trickle Down' Man".
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* Although unanimously complicit in bashing public employee pensions, Florida's editorial boards have on occasion pointed out that "Florida lawmakers aren't facing up the state's budget crisis" ("Refusing to acknowledge the obvious need for more revenue and a fairer state tax system, the Republican-led Florida Legislature is once again cobbling together a roughly $68 billion state budget with duct tape, bailing wire — and considerable help from the feds") and "Cutting Florida's corporate tax ignores reality, and the consequences" ("this idea we've been hearing from an increasing number of candidates running for Florida's House and Senate: Get rid of the state's corporate income tax, they say, and make Florida a better place to do business. What a great sound bite, especially in this economy. But you don't need a backhoe to dig up the flaws.")