Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


UPDATE: Every morning we review and individually digest Florida political news articles, editorials and punditry. Our sister site, FLA Politics was selected by Campaigns & Elections as one of only ten state blogs in the nation
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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-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, December 13, 2010

RPOFers backing themselves into Medicaid disaster

    "With Medicaid expected to cost more than $20 billion this fiscal year and contributing to a state budget shortfall of as much as $3.5 billion next year, House and Senate lawmakers are working on a plan to reduce costs by transforming most or all of Medicaid into a managed-care system."
    Heavily subsidized by the federal government, Medicaid is Florida's health-care safety net for about 3 million poor and disabled residents.

    By most accounts, the system is imperfect, with many doctors refusing to participate because of low reimbursement rates and administrative headaches.

    But the non-binding resolution passed by the Legislature last month to upend the program alarmed many Democrats and even a few Republicans who called it premature. ...

    The Senate voted last spring to expand the managed-care pilot to 19 additional counties, including Hillsborough, while the House proposed a more aggressive plan to transfer most of the state's Medicaid population into managed care.

    Both chambers are revising their plans for 2011.

    Whether and to what extent Florida can implement such aggressive reforms remains unclear, since federal regulators ... have refused so far even to grant Florida's request to continue the existing pilot project beyond next June.
    "Lawmakers may try moving Medicaid patients to managed care". See also "Medicaid Hemorrhage Challenges Lawmakers" ("One of the biggest loss leaders in Florida's deteriorating budget is Medicaid, but, as of now, lawmakers are reluctant to pursue reforms that could save the state billions of dollars.")

    For much more on this issue see the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy's "Medicaid Is an Inappropriate Scapegoat for Budget Woes".


    The Tampa Tribune editors point out that Rick "'I plead the fifth' 75 times" Scott frequently emphasizes the importance of cost-benefit plans in judging state programs. So he should be interested in a recent report that estimated restoring the Everglades would have a $4 return for every $1 spent. The study was conducted by Mather Economics of Atlanta for the Everglades Foundation." "The cost-benefit of restoring the unique 'River of Grass'".

    Bits and pieces

    Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces".

    Florida banks rake in tax breaks

    "Local governments across the state are losing revenue because banks are getting the homestead-exemption tax breaks intended for the homeowners whose properties the lenders have repossessed." "Cities, counties lose big bucks as banks get tax breaks on repossessed homes".

    Ricky ain't cheap

    "Donations top $1 million for Jan. 4 inauguration of Gov. Rick Scott".

    "Drilling and tourism don't mix"

    The Miami Herald editorial board write that "oil drilling and tourism, Florida's No. 1 industry, don't mix."

    So the Interior Department's announcement of a seven-year moratorium on drilling in federal waters off Florida's Atlantic coast and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is welcome news. Just weeks before the BP spill, President Obama proposed a plan to allow drilling 125 miles off Florida's Gulf coast and on the Atlantic's Outer Continental Shelf from Delaware to Central Florida.

    Mr. Obama's drilling plan was intended to appeal to Republicans to support climate-change legislation, but it angered many Floridians opposed to drilling, including tourism officials. Now, the climate bill's passage looks undoable with the GOP's increased numbers in the House and Senate. That reality, plus fallout from the largest oil spill in U.S. history, apparently convinced the Obama administration to retreat from its pro-drilling stance -- good.

    The oil and gas industry decried the new ban, saying it will mean fewer jobs and more dependence on foreign oil. What Big Oil didn't mention is that 43 million acres in the central and western Gulf are still very much open to drilling.

    Gov.-elect Rick Scott and other Florida Republicans also criticized the ban, saying it will cost the state jobs. State Senate President Mike Haridopolos says drilling in Florida waters should be considered when it's "safe.''

    But drilling off Florida's coast would add maybe 5 percent to U.S. oil production -- not really a solution to reducing our foreign-oil dependency. And it certainly doesn't address the 800-pound gorilla in the room -- climate change as the Earth's atmosphere heats up from greenhouse gas emissions. We need new solutions to these problems beyond just more drilling.
    "Tourists and oil drills don't mix".

    You can break it to my daughter

    "A push for struggling schools to lengthen the school day may become a part of a larger education reform debate that lawmakers have hinted will be a major part of the spring 2011 legislative agenda." "Longer School Day Enters Reform Talk".

    About Mica

    "The same day an area congressman and Amtrak critic was picked to head the U.S. House Transportation Committee, Amtrak dropped its opposition to the state buying a track for a Central Florida commuter rail system. U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, who takes over the committee in January, doesn't think that was a coincidence. " "Mica's influence already showing".

    Heroes and Zeroes

    Nancy Smith: "High-Speed Rail Little Engine That Could Chug Florida Straight Over the Cliff".

    How're them 401(k) plans workin' for 'ya?

    "Despite Central Florida's reputation as a haven for retirees, the Orlando area lags nearly all of the country's other large metropolitan areas when it comes to how well-prepared its older residents are for their 'golden years,' a new study concludes."

    The combined Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne metro areas ranked 28th among the 30 U.S. metro areas included in the first Retirement Readiness Index, which surveyed more than 10,000 people ages 40 to 75 nationwide.
    "Few in Central Florida are prepared for retirement, study finds".

    "A new day may be dawning"

    Aaron Sharockman writes that "now that the winners have won, and the losers have lost — a new day may be dawning for Florida's political leaders."

    "All of this truth made us start to question what was happening. But then Scott claimed that as head of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, the company drove down national health care inflation from 18 percent to 8 percent in seven years. It was a preposterous claim that relied on a misinterpreted study and oversold one company's ability to change national inflation numbers." "PolitiFact Florida: Truth making a comeback since elections".

    What will the Teabaggers say?

    Incoming Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West has selected "Washington insider" Jonathan Blyth as his Chief of Staff: Blyth "has spent two decades working on Capitol Hill and as a George W. Bush presidential appointee to the State Department and Office of Personnel Management." "Rep. Allen West's new top aide opposite of radio talker Joyce Kaufman".

    State papers over fiscal incompetence with stim dollars

    "The federal stimulus money was touted as a historic opportunity to improve higher education, create jobs and stop the bleeding from of state cuts. But possibly its it's greatest impact at many Florida colleges and universities was helping to maintain the status quo for two years." "Federal stimulus money did little to help Florida colleges and universities".

    Union haters: bypass the union and deal directly with teachers

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board this morning: "There's a reason why the state Legislature's teacher merit-pay bill wasn't on the now veto-proof Legislature's to-do list when it was busily overriding Gov. Charlie Crist right and left a few weeks ago. Senate Bill 6 had become poison, a result of miscalculations by the Legislature and the measure's champion, state Sen. John Thrasher."

    If teachers felt snubbed then, they might want to avert their gaze from the list of Rick Scott's appointees to his education transition team. The governor-elect has made no secret that he wants to retool the public school system, though, as with many of his other priorities, he's been stingy with details.
    All that is well and good, but the editors continue, it is "understandable why Mr. Scott wouldn't want to include representatives of Florida's teachers unions" (You know, the teachers elected by their fellow teachers to represent them); the union-hating editors slam the democratically elected union as those "whose interest in reform is grudging even on a good day."

    However, the union-haters do think it would be swell if the Governor bypassed teachers' duly elected union representatives (with their democratically elected teacher officers), and simply "invite the state's 165,000 public school teachers to the table." The editors, who obviously didn't get much beyond grammar classes in college, think it would be neat if the Governor simply found "a sharp, reform-minded public school teacher out there who would fit into Mr. Scott's team". "Avoid merit-pay rerun".

    The Orlando Sentinel's doppelganger, Sun Sentinel editors print essentially the same editorial, down to this identical sentence "It's also understandable Scott wouldn't want to include representatives of Florida's teachers unions, whose interest in reform is grudging even on a good day", in its editorial this morning: "Rick Scott would be smart to include teachers in education reform discussions".

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