"He once backed high-speed rail in Florida, but Senate President Mike Haridopolos, with an eye on the U.S. Senate in 2012, is changing his political tune and now thinks it’s right to reject $2.4 billion in federal funding." "Haridopolos flip-flops, sides with Scott on rejecting rail dollars".
Florida winning race to the bottom
"Florida teachers are on their way to becoming among the worst-paid in the nation. For the 2009-10 school year, average teacher salaries in Florida fell to No. 37 among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and estimates for 2010-11 show them falling to No. 47, according to a national report released this week." "Florida Teacher Pay Heads to the Bottom".
End running Ricky
"U.S. Rep. John Mica revealed a plan late Friday that he said could save the high-speed train from Orlando to Tampa that Gov. Rick Scott wants scuttled." "Rep. Mica announces 'rescue plan' for high-speed rail". But see "Local efforts to circumvent Gov. Rick Scott's rejection of high-speed rail funds will likely lead to a dead end, but debate over the project is creating fissures in the state's Republican Party." "High-Speed Rail Dispute Chugs Toward Tallahassee".
See also "Feds set Feb. 25 deadline for fast-rail deal", "Plans floated to keep Florida's high-speed rail money" and "As Scott digs in, rail fund alternatives are proposed".
"Let lobbyists feed us again, says state Sen. Dennis Jones".
Rearranging deck chairs
Aaron Deslatte: "Scott's budget-balancing plan to re-direct $8.5 billion from 124 trust funds into the state's general revenue checkbook could hold broader long-term implications for the state's environment, workforce housing and scores of services ranging from restaurant inspection to professional licensing." "Scott would take 'trust' out of trust funds".
Where wingnuts go to dip their toes ...
"Ex-Sen. Rick Santorum tests presidential waters in Naples".
"Culture of corruption"
"In a scathing report released Friday night, the Florida Grand Jury blasted the Broward County School Board for a culture of corruption and reckless spending of taxpayer money." "State report blasts Broward School Board".
"Unions Aren’t to Blame"
"Florida Gov. Rick Scott also is calling for pension reform [sic] -- requiring a 5 percent employee contribution and introducing 401(k)-style plans for new workers."
Alarmed that such reforms are sprouting up across the country, public-employee unions and their Democratic allies are spoiling for a fight. The disruption in Wisconsin is part of a national strategy to halt unfavorable legislation -- apparently by any means necessary."Wisconsin Teacher Walkout Reverberates in Florida".
Though Florida is officially a "right-to-work" state, one union has demonstrated the ability to organize sizable protests by members.
Last year, the Florida Education Association mobilized teachers to pack legislative hearings and jam phone lines to protest Senate Bill 6, which would have abolished tenure in the K-12 system and tied pay to performance. Their efforts paid off when Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the measure.
Last week's walkout by Wisconsin teachers might re-stoke the FEA's fires as GOP lawmakers resurrect education reform legislation here. Gov. Scott's pension initiatives upped the ante by including tens of thousands of additional government workers.
Ezra Klein - "Let’s be clear:"
Whatever fiscal problems Wisconsin is — or is not — facing at the moment, they’re not caused by labor unions. That’s also true for New Jersey, for Ohio and for the other states. There was no sharp rise in collective bargaining in 2006 and 2007, no major reforms of the country’s labor laws, no dramatic change in how unions organize. And yet, state budgets collapsed. Revenues plummeted. Taxes had to go up, and spending had to go down, all across the country."Unions Aren’t to Blame for Wisconsin’s Budget Woes".
Blame the banks. Blame global capital flows. Blame lax regulation of Wall Street. Blame home buyers, or home sellers. But don’t blame the unions. Not for this recession.
"Florida has a homeboy in the Governor's Mansion"
Darryl E. Owens isn't "suggesting Scott is a racist. After all, some of his best friends, er, or least the lieutenant governor is, well, you know." "Scott's 'homeboy' stereotypes stun black lawmakers".
"This pesky little thing"
"Scott found out this week that there is this pesky little thing called the Florida Legislature as lawmakers pushed back on a couple of his decisions for the first time." "Weekly Roundup: Pesky Little Things".
And then there's that fraud thing ...
"Rick Scott: 'Everything I Have Ever Done in My Life Is Tied to Jobs'".
Cannon laff riot
"Speaking with LaHood after a meeting at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, [House Speaker Dean] Cannon, a Republican, told the transportation secretary he agreed with Scott’s decision to reject the rail money, said spokeswoman Katie Betta. But Cannon told LaHood he hoped the state would be looked favorably upon for other federal projects. " "Florida speaker mends fed fences".
Toe sucker to speak to RPOFers
"Fox News' Dick Morris to speak at Bradenton Republican dinner" ("'I think Rick Scott is a criminal who belongs in jail not in the governor's office,' Morris said in an October event near Orlando.")
"Charged with finding a way to trim millions from its $81 million budget, the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing taking nearly 1,000 jobs off the state rolls and creating a public corporation to run the state's six veterans nursing homes." "Veterans nursing homes could go corporate".
"Perhaps the most impassioned testimony came from Anita White, a Broward County prosecutor. She drove eight hours, she said, not just for herself, but for the many underpaid paralegals and secretaries whom she relies on to do her job. 'In one year, I have already received three pay cuts. Three!' she said, listing the state's broken promises to fully pay for her Bar dues, health and life insurance. 'And you're asking me to take another. …It is wrong, and the way you frame things, the words you use are important. People call it 'fairness,' and they call it a 'contribution.' I call it what it is. It is a tax.'"
Steve Clelland, president of the Orlando Professional Fire Fighters union, said excluding new employees from the defined-benefit pension plan would create a divide in the firehouse."Dozens meet to protest pension idea".
"You're going to create a separate class of the fire department," he said. "It will create some resentment."
Second amendment stoopidity
"Ocala man dares girlfriend to fire; he's dead".
"Scott's jobs-killing, astoundingly reckless agenda"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Winter Park's Dean Cannon ironically finds himself the last, best hope Florida has to thwart Rick Scott's jobs-killing, pain-inflicting, astoundingly reckless agenda." "Dean Cannon's critical role".
What's wrong with Hillsborough?
"Equality Florida, a gay rights group, is objecting to the appointment of Terry Kemple, a religious conservative political activist who opposes gay rights, to the county's Human Rights Board. Nadine Smith, executive director of the organization, said in a news release that Kemple 'stands in direct opposition to everything this board is supposed to represent,' and 'has consistently opposed equal protection under the law for gay people and has advocated against the freedoms of those who don't share his particular religious views.'"
Smith cited:"Equality Florida objects to Kemple appointment".
• Kemple's attempts to prevent formation of gay-straight student organizations in local schools. She said the groups are to prevent bullying and harassment of gay students, but he said they're intended to "intimidate Christians or students who don't share their beliefs."
• His leadership of a boycott of Pepsico, which she said was because the company offered equal benefits for gay employees, but he said was because the company had donated money to organizations "promoting gay marriage."
• A check box on his campaign fundraising forms she said asked donors to declare "they do not support equal rights for gay people." He said it asked them to declare that they were U.S. citizens, that the contribution did not come from the proceeds of alcohol or tobacco sales or from any organization that "works to promote the normalization of homosexual activity."
"Maverick" ... oh pleeeze
"Connie Mack IV is blessed with a golden political name that would make him an instant Republican front-runner against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012."
But even as early polls show the congressman from Fort Myers as the strongest challenge to the Democratic incumbent, in many respects he's the most unpredictable candidate eyeing the race: a fiscal conservative with a maverick streak that includes supporting stem cell research, defending WikiLeaks and denouncing Arizona's tough immigration law as Gestapo-like."Maverick Connie Mack keeps GOP Senate field waiting on 2012 run".
Those views could be radioactive with the tea party base, or serve as the straight-shooting authenticity many voters crave.
Scott cancels Medicaid contract
"With state lawmakers debating putting Medicaid patients into managed care programs, Gov. Rick Scott canceled this week an $18 million Medicaid contract between MedSolutions and the Agency for Health Care Administration for outpatient imaging services." "Gov. Rick Scott denies first contract".
Passing the buck
"The Florida Lottery's contributions to the state's education system have reached $22 billion. Lottery officials Friday reported the 23-year total including $1.25 billion in the 2009-10 budget year." "Fla. Lottery's education funding hits $22 billion".