In a scene reminiscent of Jerzy Kosinski's novel, Being There, Ricky Scott is actually trying to take credit for the modest decrease in unemployment.
Scott himself cheered the news when he spoke to the media Friday in Tallahassee."Florida Headed Back to Work".
"We are clearly heading in the right direction, but we still have a way to go because we still have 1 million people out of work,” he said.
Scott added that embracing free-market solutions, including reducing regulations and cutting taxes on business, will help lower the unemployment rate even more.
RPOFer attack on Court moves in House
"After two hours of contentious debate, the Florida House voted on Friday to approve forwarding a proposed constitutional amendment to the voters. The proposal passed on a vote that mirrored party lines, with 79 Republicans backing the controversial measure and 38 Democrats voting against it."
If the Legislature passes the proposal, a constitutional amendment would make its way to the ballot in November 2012, when it would need 60 percent support to pass. Critics have maintained that Cannon was looking to get back at the state Supreme Court for shooting down a number of proposed amendments backed by the Republicans in 2010, including a redistricting measure against those backed by FairDistricts Florida and one allowing Floridians to opt out of the federal health-care law."Florida House Forwards Dramatic Supreme Court Reform". See also "Democrats call House overhaul of Florida Supreme Court 'ill-advised and arrogant'", "House GOP passes bill to dramatically alter Supreme Court that GOP says 'has failed us'" and "Senators: Union payroll deductions OK, but not for activism". Background: "House debate begins on courts overhaul plan".
Democrats started the debate by attacking the proposal, which had the support of Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, arguing that the Republicans were looking to pack the court. They invoked the same phrases that opponents labeled Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt to reform the Supreme Court of the United States after the 1936 presidential election.
“This is a very important bill,” said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, who attacked the proposal. “It is neither bold nor innovative nor well-conceived,” he added, referring to the measure as an attempt to “pack the court.”
“It is an assault on our Constitution,” insisted Waldman, who added that it was an overreach from Republicans looking to control all branches of government.
“We do not have the critical support of the institution we’re looking to make changes to,” argued Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.
While Waldman acted, as he has throughout the session, as the floor leader of the Democrats during the debate, Rep. Will Snyder of Stuart, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, led Republicans who argued that the measure would help add checks and balances and restore the balance of power. ...
“We need to create a stronger check for the judicial branch,” argued Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, who accused the state Supreme Court of overreaching its own power. “It is necessary for us to rein in the balance of power and the power of the court.”
Obama's mixed Florida polling numbers
"Barack Obama just endured a round of mixed polling in Florida, and one more poll indicates he could have a tough race there. While PPP showed him with mediocre approvals but a decent lead over non-Romney opponents, Mason-Dixon and Quinnipiac were substantially more pessimistic on his approvals. Now Suffolk University joins the fray." "FL-Pres, PA-Pres: middling numbers for Obama in two more states".
"Budget Impasse? Courting Change".
Uncertain fate for RPOF union-busting bill
"A bill ending automatic deductions from government worker paychecks for union political uses will get a vote before the full Senate after making it through its last committee stop Friday, but the final vote is anything but certain."
Senate Bill 830, sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, received narrow majorities in its first two committee stops. An amendment allowing public-sector unions to automatically deduct from member paychecks for nonpolitical purposes was tacked onto the bill during its final hearing Friday in the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Thrasher. The amendment garnered more support for the bill, but some senators are still skeptical."Union Dues Bill Tweaked, Heads to Florida Senate Floor". See also "Florida senator weakens antiunion bill amid broad opposition".
Republicans press voter suppression for 2012
"With Florida a crucial state in the 2012 presidential election, the state Legislature wants to overhaul election laws in ways critics say would help the Republican Party maintain its dominance."
The Senate is pushing a bill to cut early voting time by half, make it harder for grass roots groups to register voters and require people to vote provisionally if they moved since the last time they voted — a change elections supervisors say would affect college students the most. The bill, SB 2086, passed the Republican-controlled Rules Committee on Friday on a 10-2 vote."Florida Republicans push to cut early voting to single week".
Legislators say their goal is more convenient and less expensive voting machinery. But with President Barack Obama needing Florida's 29 electoral votes to win a second term, skeptics say the GOP-dominated Legislature is showing it has more than a passing interest in how the next election is run. All 160 legislative seats also will be up for grabs in 2012 because of reapportionment.
Gentlemen, start your bulldozers
"A sweeping rewrite of 26 years of growth management law received swift approval from the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee on Thursday, opening the way for the most substantial change in Florida development law in decades." "Senate moves to eliminate state growth laws".
Your tax dollars at work
"Fla. welfare drug testing may get state funding".
Florida Power & Light in shock
"Legislation that would have given Florida Power & Light and other investor-owned utilities authority to boost customer rates $377 million over the next five years looks troubled in the state Senate." "Benacquisto asked to rework bill that would let FPL raise rates without regulators' OK".
"U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, will host a public meeting on Thursday evening at Don Estridge Middle School in Boca Raton to give local parents the chance to sound off on a controversial federal education law, and will give some key federal education officials a chance to listen to them in person." "Meeting on 'No Child Left Behind' in Boca".
"Squishy accountability and underwhelming performance"
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Soon after the Legislature swiftly drove teacher merit-pay reforms over the finish line, Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers raced back onto the education-reform autobahn for their next goal: expanding charter schools."
Scott — enamored of free market innovation — wants to fast-track growing the nation's third-largest roster of charter schools. Yet, while the speedy push for merit pay — a long-debated and necessary reform — was warranted, lawmakers would be wise to at least tap the brakes on the feverish drive for more charter schools. The schools are rife with concerns over squishy accountability and underwhelming performance."Slow down on charter schools".
"They hate taxes and President Obama"
"Brewing under the sizzling late-afternoon sunshine, 1,500 Tea Party activists made it clear in downtown Orlando on Friday they love America, Joe the Plumber and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. They also hate taxes and President Barack Obama and have no intention of going away." "Tea Party rallies at Lake Eola". See also "Tea partiers cheer Fla. Gov. Scott, Sen. Rubio" and "Tea partiers cheer Fla. Gov. Scott, Sen. Rubio". Related: "Tea party gatherings a must-attend for GOP politicians".
Let them wear capes
"Can't find a job? Workforce Central Florida spends $14,000 for capes".
"Laying groundwork for campaigns in Sunshine State"
"Mitt Romney came yesterday to this fertile land of money and swing votes, making clear in his first public appearance since announcing his presidential exploratory committee that he plans to spend ample time in a state that could prove pivotal in early primary voting."
Romney and his opponents are laying the groundwork for major campaigns in the Sunshine State, which is hosting the Republican National Convention and is vying to secure an early spot in next year’s primary season."Romney builds foundation for campaign in Florida". Related: "Potential presidential contender, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in West Palm".
Just give 'em vouchers?
The Saint Pete Times editors: "As Florida students sat hunched over their desks this week to fill in the bubbles on standardized tests, here's an FCAT question for Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen and the School Board: Why do test scores for African-American students in Pinellas — at every grade level — lag behind their peers in other big districts in Florida on reading and math FCATs?" "Excuses don't change facts".
The free market at work
"Study: Half of supermarket meat may have staph bug".
Hank Aaron steps up to the plate
"With former Gov. Charlie Crist and baseball legend Hank Aaron among those writing checks, the race for Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West's Palm Beach-Broward congressional seat is already a $1 million affair. Crist, the former Republican who lost an independent bid for Senate last year, gave $1,000 to Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy, who raised $321,087 in March for his District 22 campaign, according to a Federal Election Commission report filed Friday." "Ex-Gov. Crist, Hank Aaron contribute to Dems running against U.S. Rep. West".
"Five years after a $5 million pledge from north Palm Beach County business leaders helped steer The Scripps Research Institute to Jupiter instead of Boca Raton, most of that money intended for minority businesses and students remains past due." "Business leaders fail to deliver $5 million minority business fund used to lure Scripps Florida".
Raw political courage
"Rubio supports bill to bar protesters from military funerals".
"Selling Florida as the cheapest state"
"Bob Graham was feeling depressed Friday. "
During the '80s when he was governor, Florida added about 190,000 jobs a year. During the '90s when he was in the U.S. Senate, the figure was about 150,000 a year. During the first decade of this century, though, it had dropped to an average of about 70,000 a year, not even enough to stay ahead of the growing workforce."Graham: Tax-cut strategy hasn't worked".
Even worse, Graham added, was the nature of those jobs. Nearly 25 years ago, Florida's per capita income relative to the rest of the country was at 101.5 percent. Last year it was just over 96 percent.
"So we've had a dramatic decline not only in job creation but in the quality of the jobs," Graham concluded. "My lesson from that is maybe this ideology ain't working . . . Maybe we ought to look for some different ways to accomplish the objective of providing Floridians with more opportunities."
Graham tried to imagine what Florida might be like today if, instead of cutting $4 billion in taxes that primarily benefited, he said, Florida's wealthiest citizens, the state had invested that money in education and improving residents' quality of life.
He didn't have to imagine, though, because he'd seen it happen in Silicon Valley, North Carolina's Research Triangle and other places that "built their prosperity on principles of quality of life and good education."
Graham doesn't see much future in selling Florida as the cheapest state in which to do business.