Scott budget includes $370 million in "failed stimulus"
This ought to have the Teabaggers donning their tricorns: "Scott campaigned against President Obama's "failed stimulus" program — yet the freshman politician kept nearly $370 million of the federal cash in his budget." "Stimulus cash in Scott's budget".
RPOF budget undermines consumer confidence
"While a national confidence index showed Americans worried about gas prices, the job market and the ongoing housing slump, University of Florida researchers say Floridians have a different concern: the state budget."
Nationally, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell in May to 61, the lowest reading since November and down 30 points since late 2007."Gov. Rick Scott, in proposing a $66 billion "jobs" budget, said lower state spending, accompanied by $2 billion in corporate- and property-tax cuts, would boost economic activity in Florida."
Floridians' outlook has been shaken, too. In a report also announced Tuesday, UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research's consumer confidence rating dipped to 68, the worst since September 2010. Perceptions on personal finances compared to a year ago dropped 4 points to an anemic 52.
Last week, the governor signed a $69 billion budget that scaled back the tax cuts while expanding his initial spending proposal by more than $3 billion."State Budget Sinks Florida Consumer Confidence, UF Says".
But media reports focused on $615 million in line-item vetoes by Scott, and those were seized on by liberal groups that decried any reductions, while generally assailing the Republican-controlled Legislature.
“Rick Scott ran on creating jobs, but instead he is running Florida’s economy into the ditch,” said Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida.
“Since this governor has been in office, we have seen him break his promise not to cut education funding, turn down job-creating projects such as high-speed rail, and today he signs a budget that eliminates thousands of jobs," Ferrulo said shortly before the budget-signing ceremony Thursday.
Florida Watch Action, another liberal advocacy group, has launched a website, www.PinkSlipRick.com, that purports to track job losses since Scott took office.
Though the claims of eliminating "thousands of jobs" have been denied by the Scott administration and could not be confirmed by any independent analysis, the downbeat mantra has resonated in the media echo chamber and stuck in the public's mind.
One man's voter suppression ...
"Democrats and Republicans see CS/CS/HB 1355, differently, beyond reducing early voting days from 14 to 8, requiring voters who have moved into the county without renewing their registration to cast a provisional ballot, and more strictly regulating third-party voter registration drives."
The new law will hurt voters who try to make changes at the polls, such as students, those at the poverty level, military people and minorities who tend to move more, said Manatee County Democratic Party Chairman Richard O’Brien.The Republican response to "Scott and the Legislature's attempt to suppress voting by racial and ethnic minority voters" has been less than impressive:
The local Democratic Party has already redoubled its voter registration efforts, due to the new election law, O’Brien said Tuesday.
The law is politically motivated and designed to curtail voting by Democrats, O’Brien said. ...
O’Brien contended it eliminates the biggest voting days for African-Americans in Manatee County -- the days just before the general election, set for Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.
"There’s been this busing to the polls program after church, the churches take groups of people from church -- this is especially designed to curtail that," said O’Brien."Local Republicans, Democrats squabble over new Florida election law".
Told about O’Brien’s claim that African-American voters who tend to vote just before the election would be adversely affected, Trigueiro questioned whether churches busing people to the polls could legally retain their nonprofit status.
"It’s my understanding that for a church to have nonprofit status, they are not allowed to have political campaigns," he said. ...
"It didn’t say black voters could no longer vote. Didn’t say if you’re Hispanic, you have to show your birth certificate in order to vote," he said. ...
The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said the only thing "prejudicial and discriminatory" about the issue was the description of minority voters as being different from Caucasians and Anglos.
Buchanan's former company violated campaign finance law
"The Federal Election Commission is asking a federal court to impose a $67,900 fine on a company formerly co-owned by Rep. Vern Buchanan that it says engaged in an "extensive and ongoing scheme" to reimburse employees who made contributions to the Sarasota Republican's congressional campaign."
Buchanan is not named as a defendant in the suit. The owner of the company said Tuesday he's acknowledged the company reimbursed employees, but said it was a "directive" issued by Buchanan."Rep. Vern Buchanan's former company violated law, Federal Election Commission says". See also "FEC recommends fine for Fla. auto dealership".
"I've done nothing wrong," said Sam Kazran, who said he told the FEC he was unfamiliar with campaign finance law. "I am not a politician, just a regular Joe. I had no idea."
He said Buchanan told a group he needed to raise $1 million "to look good.
"It was 'This is what I need to do and this is what you need to do to take care of it,' " Kazran said.
A Buchanan campaign spokesman called Kazran's allegation "absolutely false."
Scott makes appointments
"Gov. appoints 2 to hospital board".
"Florida blithely sticks its head in the sand"
The Saint Petersburg Times editors point out that "when it comes to addressing the threat of global warming, Chicago is a second city to no other. Meanwhile, Florida continues to deal with real-world global warming concerns by blithely sticking its head in the sand — while the beaches still exist." "Chicago could teach Florida about global warming".
"FPL offers solar rebates - How to get yours before the cash runs out".
Scott's flip flopping baffles Teabaggers
SunState News' Kenric Ward writes that "Gov. Rick Scott will never win any popularity contests with the liberals at Florida's teacher union. Now, his curious call to shift budget savings back to education threatens to undermine his conservative base, as well."
Scott won in 2010 as the consummate outsider who promised tough spending cuts and no-nonsense reform. But his budget-signing muddle looked more like an insider's game of smoke and mirrors.Ward continues: "it's a monumental head-scratcher that Scott would want more money funneled back to a bureaucratic, top-heavy educational system that he previously characterized as badly in need of reform and competition."
In total spending, the budget Scott signed was closer to Charlie Crist's than his own. The governor's $615 million in line-item vetoes, while a record, represented less than a 1 percent cut and failed to bring the bottom line below $69 billion. (Scott's original plan was $66 billion, but, hey, what's a few billion among friends?)
The meager trims were disappointing enough to fiscal conservatives. Then Scott compounded his problem by urging lawmakers to funnel the paltry nixed expenditures back into K-12 education. In other words: no budget savings at all.
Moving public money around for no net reduction isn't the hallmark of a fiscal hawk, and Scott's shell game on schools wasn't even clever. If it was an attempt to deflect political heat onto Republican legislators, it failed dismally as House Speaker Dean Cannon riposted that only $100 million could be shifted because the remainder of the vetoed outlays came from dedicated sources.
Even in his veto message, the governor warned that "throwing more taxpayer dollars at an outdated system is not the answer." And yet there he was, telling Floridians that more money "oughta be put back into education." "Rick Scott Bends on School Spending; is SunRail Next?".
Was this bout of mush-minded munificence an isolated "off moment" for Scott, or a sign of things to come? Which direction he takes on the SunRail commuter-train boondoggle will go a long way toward settling that question.
"What baffles me is why we still have SunRail dollars in the budget," [Henry Kelley, head of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party] said.
Meantime, the axiom stands: The more an elected official is perceived as unprincipled, pandering or just plain feckless, the less credible that politician becomes. Just ask Crist.
Lou Reed cringes
"Major reforms aside, saggy pants, bestiality, barking tree frog all had their day". "Florida Legislature Paused for a Walk on the Wild Side".
Obama HCR will lower premiums by up to 40% in Florida
"After only a smattering of people enrolled in the pre-existing condition insurance plan created by the Obama administration's health overhaul last year, the federal government said Tuesday it will lower premiums by up to 40 percent in states like Florida and make it easier to apply." "Premiums cut on pre-existing condition health care coverage".
Scott attends $500-a-head fundraiser
"Invited by the France family, Gov. Rick Scott toured the pediatric unit at Halifax Health Medical Center on Tuesday -- meeting the staff and cheering up one of its small patients. The Republican governor was in Daytona Beach to attend a $500-a-head fundraiser Tuesday night at the home of International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy." "Governor tours Halifax pediatric unit".
Employers no doubt outraged at 6 penny increase
"Florida's new minimum wage takes effect June 1". See also "Florida minimum wage rising six cents this week".
Teabagger teacher evaluation formula
"Class attendance will count. A student’s socioeconomic status won’t. Students with disabilities and gifted students will be a factor. But race and gender will not."
That’s a glimpse of the new test-based teacher evaluation formula the state is set to approve on Wednesday. As part of the requirements of the new teacher merit pay law and the mandates of the $700 million Race to the Top federal grant, the state and school districts are preparing for a major overhaul of how teachers are rated and paid."State Poised to Approve New Teacher Evaluations".
Under the merit pay law, 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student learning gains on test scores, with the other half based on in-person evaluations by a principal, administrator or fellow teacher.
By 2014, a teacher’s salary will be tied to how well the teacher performs under this new formula.
Florida real estate crash continues
"South Florida home prices in March hit their lowest level since the real estate crash, a crushing drop that reflected the nationwide trend and one that had economists declaring recent market gains artificial." "South Florida home prices worst since crash". See also "Tampa home prices remain at housing-bust lows" and "Orange County property values continue to slide".
Mendelsohn looking at time
"Federal prosecutors are seeking prison time for a Florida eye doctor convicted of fraud in a high-profile political corruption case." "US wants prison for Fla. doc in corruption case".