"Dirty work in the governor’s twitchy shadow"
A timeline of the Session fail: "Florida Legislature's meltdown: How it happened". Related: "How an easy wind-down to session spun out of control".
Carl Hiaasen: "Having a radical wingnut for governor has proven to be a blessing for other top Florida Republicans. No matter what kind of reckless mischief they devise, they still appear almost sane and levelheaded compared to Rick Scott."
The two Republicans benefiting most from the distraction of the governor’s glassy-eyed extremism are House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos. Both are ambitious and trying hard to look like grownups, though in fact they’re not all that different from Scott — just more polished."Legislature’s zaniness pales next to Scott...".
Haridopolos is gunning for the U.S. Senate seat held by Bill Nelson, so he’s been more careful than Cannon about letting his true colors show. It was Haridopolos who publicly balked at Scott’s screwball proposal to slash Florida’s corporate income taxes by $458 million, which would have shifted a devastating burden to the public sector. ...
Scott’s headline-grabbing antics have provided a measure of cover for lawmakers whose agenda is no less dangerous for the state’s future, and whose allegiance to wealthy special interests is no less devout. What happened in Tallahassee this spring virtually guarantees higher taxes and fewer services for ordinary Floridians. ...
While it was predictable that the Legislature of 2011 would be owned by the corporations and utilities that bankroll political campaigns, the degree of subservience was historic. ...
The governor’s an easy target, but what did we expect? He hasn’t lived here long enough to understand the place, and what he doesn’t know about it could fill Lake Okeechobee.
But it would be a huge mistake to believe that Scott is more of a threat than Cannon or Haridopolos, who do their dirty work in the governor’s twitchy shadow.
Michael Mayo writes that Bob "Graham, a Democrat who was Florida's 38th governor in 1979-1987 before serving three terms in the U.S. Senate, said he always considered 1929 the low point for Tallahassee politics."
That year, he explained, the [Florida] Legislature voted to censure President Herbert Hoover's wife for inviting the black wife of a black Chicago congressman to a White House luncheon."Legislature 2011 leaves mark, scars".
"This year might rival that," Graham said.
It's the 21st century, so the Legislature doesn't do righteous indignation over racial mixing anymore.
But when it comes to harmful impact on Floridians' everyday lives, the 2011 session might go down in the history books.
"Haridopolos a picture of dejection"
"The end of the lawmaking session should have been Senate President Mike Haridopolos' triumph but he was a picture of dejection, battered and disappointed by the gamesmanship, score-settling and GOP infighting." "Political games, settling scores". See also "Rancor, political games take toll on Mike Haridopolos in lawmaking session" and "Senate President Haridopolos faces harsh criticism by Republican rivals" (among them, leadership luminary "Adam Hasner scoffed at Haridopolos' leadership while campaigning in Jacksonville").
Teabagger got his
"There were some rookie mistakes, to be sure. But for Gov. Rick Scott, the millionaire health care executive who has never held office, his first legislative session was an astonishing victory." "Scott's agenda largely met as session ends". See also "Scott: Legislative session set state in the 'right direction'".
"Session of regression"
The Tampa Tribune editors: "A notably mean-spirited and shortsighted Florida Legislature was finishing the session late last night. Residents should be grateful it can do no more harm. Taxpayers ultimately will end up paying a heavy price for the session's pandering to special interests". "Session of regression".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "It's with a huge sense of relief that we note the end of the legislative session. And with an equally strong sense of foreboding note that the most extreme Legislature Florida has had in generations will tee it all up again next year. Ugh." "Legislators behaved like a wrecking crew during disastrous session".
Notwithstanding their criticisms, the worker-hating, Chamber hacks comprising both these editorial boards can't resist praising the RPOF's 3% pay cuts for state and local public employees who have the temerity to receive ... get this ... pensions! Because these editors employ workers without pensions - and, if anything, instead cheap 401(k) plans - the editors think it is just grand that the Governor is attacking defined benefit pension plans.
"Winners and losers"
"Some bills that passed and failed in the 2011 session. All passed bills await Gov. Rick Scott's approval." "Florida Legislature's 2011 session winners and losers". Related: "That's a wrap: Key issues as they stand at the end of session ", "Clear winners and losers in Florida Legislative session", "Who won and who lost in Fla.'s 60-day 2011 legislative session? ", "GOP-led legislature passed wide range of bills this session" and "A summary of the session".
"Justice denied to Florida men after lawmakers quarrel". More: "Compensation bills for 2 men die amid power struggle in Legislature".
Stoopid in action
"A new statewide charter boarding school for troubled youth was quietly passed by Florida lawmakers amidst a crush of bills dealing with the budget in the final hours of the legislative session."
[A]n early staff analysis of the proposal said it could cost up to $10 million in state funds to operate. ..."Florida lawmakers quietly pass charter boarding school for troubled youth".
Meanwhile, some lawmakers are left wondering this weekend what else was in the dozens of complex bills they voted on during a marathon last day of session that lasted from 10 a.m. until well after midnight.
Perhaps Rick Scott will moderate?
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Unless you've been wasting away in Margaritaville for the past decade or so, you know that Florida long ago emerged as a national political epicenter. Not only are we a pivotal Electoral College state, our demographics and politics make the Sunshine State a bellwether for political trends, issues and personalities."
It's a natural place, or should be, for one of the 2012 presidential or vice presidential election debates. Right now, our state's hopes for one of those high-profile, momentous events hinges on a bid from Lynn University in Boca Raton. The private university is the only Florida site on the list of candidates under consideration by the Commission on Presidential Debates."Support Lynn's bid for presidential debates".
You know what? Lynn may not be a household name in the state, but it's hard to imagine a finer contender.
"As long as Festus and Jim-Bob on the local board go along"
After 30 years, Howard Troxler, is "reluctant to say that it was the Worst Session Ever. But, you know, this one is in the running. Let's go through a few issue areas:"
(1) The biggest theme of 2011 was the repeal of a lot of Florida's laws about growth and the environment, in the name of "creating jobs.""Oh, and repeat after me:"
We've been in a recession, and we haven't recovered yet. But when we do, these new laws are going to surprise, even stun, a lot of Floridians.
This Legislature threw out much of the Growth Management Act of 1985. It's back to the days in which anybody can build anything, as long as they get Festus and Jim-Bob on the local board to go along. ...
(2) The 2011 Florida Legislature also will be known for shutting down direct citizen political activity while cementing its own power.
That includes cutting back early voting, which has been increasingly popular.
That includes blocking many Floridians (those who have moved or changed their name) from casting a regular ballot on Election Day. ...
But for itself, the Legislature brought back a corrupt practice known as "leadership funds." It is legal again for the leaders of the Legislature itself to collect campaign money directly from those seeking favorable treatment.
(3) If it weren't for all the other bad ideas, the screaming headlines of 2011 would be about budget cuts as we have never seen. It will take months for the full, bitter effects to be felt around the state, from weaker enforcement of nursing home standards to less protection for nature to teacher layoffs.
(4) Floridians will find a slew of laws favorable to business and not so favorable to them. Homeowners insurance companies can raise rates more easily and don't have to pay the full value of a claim as fast. The last generation of Floridians who rely entirely on a wired telephone in their home will find that their phone company has been entirely deregulated and can do whatever it wants.
(5) For better or worse, the 2011 Legislature made large-scale changes more or less on the fly. It rewrote the rules for how teachers are hired and fired in Florida. In a stroke, it privatized Medicaid, turning over $20 billion-plus to private corporations to decide who gets what care, without even requiring them to spend X percent on patients!
It is Liberal Big Government for the feds to pass a health care law because that would Intrude on the Doctor-Patient Relationship. On the other hand, it's okay for the Legislature to stomp all over that relationship with new rules ordering every woman who wants an abortion to have an ultrasound first. ..."Worst of the 2011 Florida Legislature".
And on the bright side, they outlawed bestiality and droopy pants in public schools. Best of all, they adjourned.
What's wrong with Hillsborough?
"Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a pariah to the Republican Party just a year ago, showed Saturday night how that has changed, appearing as the headliner and biggest celebrity at a massive Hillsborough County GOP fundraising dinner. Fresh from his inaugural legislative session as governor, Scott was heartily applauded and praised at a gathering that included top party figures from all over the state." "Hillsborough GOP gives Scott warm reception".
Choking on his ascot
Poor Kingsley Guy is choking on his ascot about a rather mundane piece of NLRB litigation.
Kingsley writes about how "Rick Scott says he wants to bring jobs to Florida, which is a worthy and politically popular goal. Among the things he can do in support of this cause is offer Florida's moral and, if necessary, legal support to a nearby state that's involved in an imbroglio with the federal government over its own effort to attract jobs."
As has become painfully obvious in recent years, the Democratic Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of unionized labor, and the unions are calling in a chit. The payback is coming from the Democrat-controlled National Labor Relations Board, which is going to court in an outrageous attempt to block the start-up of Boeing's South Carolina Dreamliner operation, into which Boeing already has sunk billions of dollars. The NLRB's un-elected bureaucrats claim the establishment of the plant constitutes illegal retaliation against unions for strikes against Boeing in Seattle, which is not in a right-to-work state."Squeeze play: Union should back off Boeing in S.C. ".
Most people would view Boeing's action not as "retaliation," but as a logical and justifiable business decision. The strikes in Seattle cost Boeing and its stockholders hundreds of millions of dollars, and it makes perfect sense for Boeing to geographically diversify its manufacturing base so as not to be held hostage by the unions.
NLRB members may claim to be acting in the defense of workers, but what about working men and women in the Palmetto State? Does the NLRB and the current administration care about them?
The low country of South Carolina is one of the most economically depressed areas in the country, and a Boeing operation there would result in 12,000 new jobs that would have a ripple effect in support of other businesses. The South Carolina jobs, however, would not produce union dues that could then be recycled into campaign contributions, primarily to Democrats and the Democratic Party.
The NLRB complaint amounts to a dangerous assault on business and non-union workers. But it also is an assault on states' rights, with a federal agency siding with interests in one state against another.
We urge poor Kingsley to actually read the federal complaint with the specific allegations before he whines about how unfair it is (warning: big words, which are particularly hard on one's noggin the day after the Derby and all those mint juleps).
Of course, if Kingsley and his ilk think it is fine for an employer to punish employees for engaging in legally protected activity (e.g., religion, union activity, free speech, voting, and so on), then there really is no talking to him about discrimination by the Boeing Company, now is there.
Of course, that really is the issue with the spats and ascot crowd: they really do want employers to have the right to do whatever they want with the help: like this, and more generally, like it was back in the good ole days.
And, by the way, where was Kingsley and his outrage when this was going on just up the road?
"Fewer than 2 percent, actually"
Scott Maxwell: "GOP politicians would have you believe that the poor, poor businesses are overtaxed."
But would you like to guess what percentage of Florida businesses pay any income taxes at all?"Still, Gov. Rick Scott and his peers in the Legislature want to make that lower — even as they take money from veterans and public schools."
Around 75 percent? Maybe 50?
Fewer than 2 percent, actually.
Out of 1.3 million for-profit corporations and companies in the state, only 24,112 paid any corporate income taxes at all last year, according to the state Department of Revenue.
More than 98 percent paid none at all.
Florida Republicans zealously pursue corporate-tax cuts, espousing a theory of trickle-down economics — trying to convince you that more money for corporations leads to more money for individuals."Guess how few Florida businesses pay corporate taxes?"
Unfortunately, what has failed to trickle down to them is reality.
At 5.5 percent, Florida has had one of the lowest corporate-tax rates in America for years.
Yet we also have some of the highest unemployment rates and foreclosure rates.
We have lower-than-average salaries and fewer Fortune 500 companies than other states our size.
Quite simply, there is proof that low corporate taxes do not necessarily lead to an economic utopia.