Tim Nickens: "Barely a month has passed since Gov. Rick Scott took office, and it is clear he views his new job as Florida's chief executive no differently than his old job as chief executive assembling the nation's largest hospital chain."
During the campaign, he had a consistent response to questions about what he knew regarding Columbia/HCA's practices that led to a record $1.7 billion in fines for Medicare fraud. Scott repeatedly said he knew of no wrongdoing but accepted responsibility as the chief executive officer and should have hired more auditors. Translation: I hired good people, set goals and they violated the rules without my knowledge to achieve those goals."Scott still to learn state is not a business".
Yet Scott starts off as governor as a controlling micromanager with little patience for rules or understanding that the governor is not a dictator. He stood in front of his private plane and said Cabinet members, who by the way are also elected statewide, and other officials can drive or fly commercial after he sells the state planes. His review of expenditures of more than $1 million threatened road projects and other work that creates jobs, which he says is his top priority. His review of all pending regulations, even those that are routine and necessary, effectively throws sand into the wheels of state government. ...
The inclination is to give a new governor the benefit of the doubt and let him settle into office a bit. Scott squandered that with his arbitrary decisions and disregard for other institutions, including the Cabinet, Congress, the voters and the media. But he will learn that government is not a business. There are more checks and balances on the governor than the chief executive of a private hospital chain that flouted the law.
It will be interesting to watch whether that lesson is taught by the Legislature, the courts or the public.
Scott having a hard time getting to work
Scott is already making a mess of things.
Already "One month into his term, Gov. Rick Scott has yet to name 14 of 25 state agency secretaries, including the people who will run the Department of Transportation, Department of Health and the Agency for HealthCare Administration. It's getting 'big time late in the game' to make those appointments, said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, especially with Scott set to roll out his first budget on Monday and with budget hearings scheduled in the run-up to the March 8 legislative session." "Rick Scott's slow pace in appointing state secretaries troubles lawmakers".
"Facts are stupid things"*
"A freshman Florida lawmaker who wants to make it a felony for doctors to ask patients whether they own guns is trotting out the bogeyman of national politics to help make his case."
Brodeur says he's concerned about doctors asking patients about guns and allowing that information into the hands of the government or insurance companies. That could mean higher insurance rates or being flagged in a database of gun owners. ..."Lawmaker's gun claims are false".
It turns out that Brodeur's trying to right a "wrong" that isn't wrong. The health care law included specific protections for gun owners — so they wouldn't see insurance premium increases and their information wouldn't be included in a gun owner database or registry.
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"The Florida Commission on Ethics Friday dismissed a complaint that a professor-legislator abused his authority by using students as volunteers in his campaign."
Malabar businesswoman Nancy Borton, a restaurant owner and city councilwoman, filed a complaint that Tobia improperly used about 20 students of his Valencia Community College political science classes in his 2008 campaign. Students called voters for Tobia, who won a four-way GOP primary by 86 votes in House District 31."Complaint against Tobia dismissed".
The college warned him not to do it again last year, saying he overstepped ethical bounds by cancelling a final exam in 2008.
"The facts were presented and you could tell that the commission spent quite a bit of time going over that," said Tobia. "They came to the conclusion unanimously that there was no probable cause" that a violation occurred.
Borton said in her complaint that Tobia gained unfair advantage by using his position as a professor and that his actions may have tipped the close election to him. She could not be reached for comment Friday.
Ricky "moving to the right" of Jebbie
Kenric Ward: "Moving to the right of GOP icon Jeb Bush, Gov. Rick Scott is breaking new ground in his proposed state budget."
With a barebones spending plan to be unveiled Monday in the small Central Florida town of Eustis, Scott is "basically daring the Legislature to go counter to him," says Susan MacManus, a public administration and political science professor at the University of South Florida."Scott's Budget Shift Takes Historic Turn".
Not only is Scott taking the novel step of rolling out his budget away from Tallahassee, he is staking out a more fiscally conservative position than any of his recent predecessors. And that includes Bush. ...
By pledging to make Florida the "most fiscally conservative state in the country," Scott will test the mettle of his fellow Republicans.
Never mind the constitution
"Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla Files Bill to Kill Class-Size Fines".
"The race to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012 is starting to heat up as a crowded field of Republicans continues to get ready to run -- and takes aim at Florida’s senior senator." "Republicans Looking to Hammer Bill Nelson on Health Care in 2012".
The Sunshine State News' "Recap and analysis of week in state government". "Weekly Roundup: Put That in Your Tea and Stuff It".
"Scott will propose a two-year budget"
"Scott will propose a two-year budget for Florida rather than just an annual one because he thinks it's more forward-looking, a spokesman said Friday."
The governor appeared before a group of South Florida business leaders Friday to seek their support for his spending plan, which he says will slash business and property taxes by more than $2 billion. The state faces a projected budget shortfall of $3.6 billion to $4.6 billion. ..."Gov. Scott to propose 2-year Florida budget".
Scott plans to release his first budget proposal Monday at a tea party rally in Eustis.
"Facing a state budget gap that could hit $4 billion or more, and promising $2 billion in tax cuts on top of that, Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he can close the gap by cutting out billions in government waste and inefficiency. Where's he going to find it?"
So far, Scott has pointed in only a few specific directions."Scott's budget will take a bite out of $26,000 alligator program".
He'll trim state pension costs by some $2.8 billion over two years. He'll combine the operations of some state agencies.
And he'll eliminate the state's alligator meat marketing program.
"Two political veterans offer useful insight for Gov. Rick Scott".
Scott to "tarnish Florida's tourism industry"?
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "For decades, Florida's natural beauty has attracted scores of visitors and residents, and a large part of that lure is the state's award-winning park system. Twice, Florida State Parks has been recognized as the nation's best by the National Recreation and Park Association."
It's both ironic and troubling that only a couple of months after Floridians finished a yearlong celebration in honor of the system's 75th anniversary, 53 state parks could be closed to help close the state's budget gap of at least $3.5 billion."Don't tarnish our state park jewel".
Doing so would harm the economy in rural areas, reduce state and local revenues and tarnish Florida's tourism industry as a whole. ... closing any state park would be a travesty.
Cannon says Scott "an intellectual guy"
"House Speaker Dean Cannon has high praise for Gov. Rick Scott's intellect and work ethic. But the ever-guarded lawmaker made clear Friday that the tax cuts and reforms that Scott is expected to recommend in his budget next week will face tough sledding in the Florida House."
"He's an intellectual guy, which bodes well," said Cannon, R-Winter Park, Friday in an hourlong interview with the Orlando Sentinel editorial board. However, the speaker, who campaigned against Scott in the Republican primary before endorsing him in the general election, said the House would take its time assessing Scott's priorities."House Speaker Dean Cannon: Tax cuts will be a 'tall order' this year".
Not a good start for an "intellectual"
Aaron Deslatte: "When Scott decided on Jan. 7 to withdraw a request for U.S. Justice Department approval of two redistricting amendments – approved by 63 percent of Florida voters – his office never bothered to announce it. Last week, advocates for the amendments, disturbed by the lack of information coming from Scott's office, decided to sue the governor rather than wait around for him to say if he intends to re-submit them for federal 'pre-clearance.'"
It will cost taxpayers money to defend the governor's position in court."The public gets records – but the press has to wait".
Scott's office has been painfully slow in releasing information like salaries for his agency and the counsel his advisors got from lobbyists and industry groups during his transition. Scott's office has put a gag order on the agency heads he's appointed, while the governor himself has repeatedly pledged to run an open, accountable administration.
"Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks about 'life's calling' during impromptu visit to Ave Maria University".
Never mind the details
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "To sell the public on its property-insurance reform package, which amounts to a great big gift to the companies that write your policies, legislators are — big surprise — telling homeowners how it's a present for them."
But hand the companies everything they want, which many in the Legislature appear eager to do, and it's Florida's homeowners who again will suffer."Property-insurance reform package could harm consumers".