"Freshman U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who is facing a state criminal investigation of his finances, paid himself nearly $60,000 in unexplained campaign reimbursements over the eight years he served in the state legislature, an Associated Press examination of his records shows."
Serving as his own campaign treasurer, the Miami Republican didn't report any details for more than a third of the roughly $160,000 in expenses for which he reimbursed himself, other than simply calling them campaign expenses, according to the records."Fla. rep failed to explain thousands in expenses".
The AP review also shows his total reimbursements far exceeded those claimed by 12 other top Florida state legislators who served with him. Those lawmakers - both Democrats and Republicans - usually gave at least some explanation of how the money had been spent, as required by Florida law. Rivera denies wrongdoing.
The payments mark the latest questionable financial dealings by Rivera, whose personal and campaign finances are being investigated by state and local authorities.
Shortfall now $5 billion
"The magnitude of Florida's fiscal crisis became clearer Thursday as the Senate's top budget writer called for larger cash reserves to pacify Wall Street bond rating firms." "Budget gap could near $5 billion".
Florida’s tax system "fails"
The Chair of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, Dr. Nelson Easterling writes that "economists, public administration professionals, and governmental experts agree on several requirements for a sound tax system at any level of government."
These requirements include adequacy, fairness, efficiency, and simplicity. The National Conference on State Legislatures includes the last three of these in their publication entitled "Principles of a High-Quality State Revenue System." They did not include the issue of adequacy. That is a subjective determination and is best left to the political side of governance."Florida’s Tax Structure Fails Tests for Fairness, Efficiency and Simplicity" (.pdf).
The first three major requirements are more objective and can be analyzed from an apolitical standpoint. When such an analysis is conducted on Florida’s system, it fails in all three areas.
What's next? Restoring Florida's Labor Department?
"Saying the state must streamline or perish, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday told business leaders he wants to resurrect a Department of Commerce under his control that would coordinate economic development efforts from an office 'two doors down' from his own." "Scott proposes rebirth of commerce department". See also "Scott proposes restoring state's Commerce Department", "Gov. Rick Scott Brings Back Department of Commerce, Will Set It Up Next Door", "Governor proposes Dept. of Commerce" and "Gov. Rick Scott wants control of economic development efforts".
Department of Corrections' $2.4 billion budget
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Florida's Republican-led Legislature, desperate to find cost savings, is being told that diversion programs, drug treatment and flexible sentencing reforms are the best ways to pare back the Department of Corrections' $2.4 billion budget." "Rehabilitate our criminal justice policy".
Florida agencies present $287.8M in cuts
"Staffers for seven state agencies presented $287.8 million in budget cuts Thursday to the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations, but some legislators were concerned that the cuts were falling on services rather than administrative costs." "Agencies Offer Cuts, Some Senators Wary".
Corporate Tax to be eliminated
"One of the chief items on Gov. Rick Scott’s economic agenda is the elimination of the corporate income tax -- and it looks like he will be getting help from a key committee in the Florida House. " "House Committee Starts the Process of Scrapping Corporate Income Tax".
RPOFer files bill preempting anti-wage theft ordinances
"Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas, a strong supporter of the Miami-Dade county wage theft ordinance approved in February 2010, proclaimed Nov. 18 as a Day Against Wage Theft. This month, fellow Republican state Rep. Tom Goodson of Titusville filed a bill that would preempt any local wage theft ordinance. The bill says federal and state laws already protect workers and employers against wage theft." "Florida GOP officials differ on Miami-Dade wage theft ordinance".
Everywhere a bill
"The start of the 2011 session of the Florida Legislature is little more than a month away, and the bill hopper is filling up fast." "Among thousands of ideas before the Florida Legislature, here are three to watch".
"Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday fired the head of Enterprise Florida, the public-private outfit responsible for economic development efforts shortly after publicly announcing his plan to overhaul how the state attracts new businesses." "Scott fires Enterprise Florida chief ahead of proposed shakeup".
"A fertilizer company paid a record $10,000 for a cake at the Polk County Youth Fair Auction baked by the 9-year-old daughter of state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam." "Fertilizer co. pays $10K for ag chief's kid's cake".
"Slackers and malingerers"?
"There are few jobs, competition is fierce and, now, there is a rising sense that if you don't have job, you must be lazy, incompetent or both."
"I think quite a few are content to sit back and take a handout," said Tom Johnson, a plumbing-parts salesman from Orlando. "I'm sure they could find something if they wanted to.""Unemployed bristle at being labeled lazy, incompetent".
A similar sentiment is drifting through Congress and the Florida Legislature. Federal lawmakers are increasingly resistant to extending unemployment benefits, and Gov. Rick Scott's economic-transition team recently suggested the jobless aren't looking hard enough.
In a legislative-committee meeting this month, state Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, instructed state unemployment officials to more closely scrutinize those applying for benefits.
"We'd like your department," she said, "to, you know, get rid of slackers and malingerers."
The comments sting many unemployed Floridians, who resent the notion that they are sitting at home collecting checks and watching soap operas.
"[T]he audience was eerily silent after West presented slide after slide showing a coming fiscal apocalypse."
The crowd at the South Florida Bible College, which included Republican Party leaders, the head of the Christian Coalition in Broward, and a large contingent of tea party activists, was largely friendly."U.S. Rep. Allen West warns Social Security, Medicare in jeopardy".
They repeatedly showed their leanings, as when Republican Patrick Castronovo asked West how he felt when he learned the liberal MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann was out of a job. The audience cheered; West didn't answer.
Just don't call it a federal bailout
"Wednesday's declaration paves the way for farmers and ranchers affected by the extreme weather to apply for financial help through several federal programs." "Marion among counties named disaster areas because of cold".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Three accused of stealing diapers, trying to re-sell them".
Lobbyist heads up Rubio's staff
"Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Friday named a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and adviser to 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney as his chief of staff. Cesar Conda was involved in Rubio's campaign and headed his transition into the Senate."
Conda has worked as a lobbyist and analyst for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and founded the Washington office of Navigators, a lobbying/consulting firm where another top Rubio adviser, Todd Harris, also worked."Sen. Marco Rubio hires Cesar Conda to be chief of staff".
The firm's clients included GlaxoSmithKline, At&T, Visa and Citigroup, which got $45 billion under the bank bailout. Rubio on the campaign trail was highly critical of bailouts.
Teabaggers scooping up the tix
"Rubio to headline Pinellas GOP Lincoln Day dinner".
Senate Armed Services Committee
"Florida loses Senate Armed Services Committee seat".
Movin' on up
"The former chief of Florida's elections system is Gov. Bob McDonnell's pick to head Virginia's State Board of Elections. The Republican governor chose Donald Palmer to succeed Nancy Rodrigues as secretary of the board." "Va gov appoints ex-Fla elections chief to head SBE".