"With state budget cuts and tighter unemployment benefits, Florida's latest legislative session put more of a strain on the middle class, according to a report by Demos and the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy."
The "Under Attack" report notes that in Florida, the top 5 percent of earners saw their income increase 54 percent since 1986, compared to a 17 percent gain for the middle 20 percent. It said only six states have a wider income gap than Florida does.The charming
The report also said Florida stands out for its lack of labor unions, with just under 6 percent of the state's workers organized compared to the national average of 12 percent. Emily Eisenhauer, of the Research Institute, cited anti-union bills pursued in Tallahassee as part of Florida's assault on the working people.
"The actions in the Legislature that have made it more difficult for unions are not helpful for the middle class," she said.
Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, majority leader for Republicans in the Florida House, dismissed the idea that more unions will help the recovery."Liberal groups say Gov. Scott is targeting middle class".
"I personally believe unions exist to perpetuate unions," he said. "A union will never be satisfied. They will always want more."
From the release about the report:
Florida's middle class is in jeopardy. Florida workers have fared worse than the nation as a whole in terms of wages, benefits and employment levels. There has been a decline in the number of employers who provide their workers with health insurance which means that family illness can too easily lead to substantial costs, medical debt, and bankruptcy. And as employers replace traditional pensions with 401(k)-type plans, middle-class workers can no longer count on a secure retirement. Manufacturing jobs, which tend to offer better pay and benefits, have declined as a proportion of Florida jobs since the 1980s. Job growth has predominated in the service sector, where pay is lower, and employers are less likely to offer health and retirement benefits. ...Download The Report (.pdf).
Florida's middle class is in even greater danger today as Governor Scott, who ran on a platform of creating 700,000 jobs, has signed a budget that will lead to job losses. Dubbed the "Pink Slip" budget by progressives, Scott has targeted healthcare and education. Most devastating, Florida has now cut its unemployment benefits, already meager at a $275 weekly maximum, the fourth lowest in the country, limiting them to 23 weeks while the unemployment rate, at a record high 11.5 percent in 2010, continues to be significantly higher than the national average. In June of 2011, Governor Scott signed a bill further limiting benefits, steadily reducing their maximum duration as unemployment falls below 10.5 percent, further squeezing unemployed workers in a state where one-third of those out of work have been jobless for over one year.
Scott's numbers even worse
"A poll released Wednesday by the usually right-leaning Sunshine State News shows Republican Gov. Rick Scott's approval rating at 27 percent among Floridians, with 58 percent disapproving of the job done by the first-year governor."
Sunshine's survey mirrors a Quinnipiac University poll in May that showed Scott's approval at 29 percent, suggesting the governor's attempt at overhauling his image with robo-calls and self-styled letters to newspaper editorial pages hasn't paid off.Perhaps Scott shouldn't have hired his daughter to rehabilitate his image:
The numbers also stand in contrast to what appeared as a brief surge of popularity for the governor in June. A survey released then by Viewpoint Florida gave Scott a 45 percent approval rating among Floridians.
Viewpoint Florida is run by Republican campaign operatives Randy Nielsen of West Palm Beach and Pat Bainter of Gainesville.
Nielsen's Public Concepts and Bainter's Data Targeting show up in the Florida Republican Party's latest finance reports, which also provide insight into the party's effort to enhance Scott's image.
Harris Media, a Austin, Texas-based public-relations firm which has opened a Tallahassee office and hired one of the governor's daughters, drew $23,927 for web ads and $11,638 for website work from the state party."Florida GOP effort to boost Scott's image not working according to Sunshine State poll".
Two State Board of Education vacancies for Scott to fill
"State Board of Education member Mark Kaplan has announced that he is resigning effective July 20, opening another opportunity for Gov. Rick Scott to make an appointment to the seven-member board. ... Besides Kaplan, there is another vacancy on the board still waiting to be filled by the resignation of Susan Story in November, the spokeswoman said." "Florida Board of Education member resigns to take job in Minnesota".
Frankel keeping pace
"Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel said Wednesday that she collected $440,000 for her congressional campaign during the past three months, keeping pace with Democratic rival Patrick Murphy, who earlier reported pulling in $450,000." "Frankel keeps fund-raising pace with Democratic rival".
And so it begins
"Political divides were on display Wednesday as Florida House and Senate committee members visited Santa Fe College for one of 26 meetings scheduled to gather public input on the redrawing of the state’s legislative and congressional districts following the 2010 Census." "Politics reigns as sides meet to discuss redistricting". See also "Redistricting road show: The Villages hears about redistricting plans".
Scott applies his wisdom to Homeland security issues
"Gov. Rick Scott conducted a four-hour meeting Wednesday with federal, state and local emergency management and public safety officials, detailing the state’s response to possible terrorist attacks and natural disasters." "Gov. Rick Scott Hosts Homeland Security Threat Assessment".
Mica leads charge to gut EPA
"Pointing to a long-running fight in Florida, the U.S. House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to require tougher water-quality standards."
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Florida, was a key sponsor of the measure, which passed 239-184. Mica and other supporters said the EPA has overstepped its authority in Clean Water Act disputes with states."Florida Fight With EPA Backdrop to Congressional Debate". See also "U.S. House passes Mica-sponsored water bill".
Can the rest of the Teabaggers be far behind?
"While Mike Haridopolos can run off a litany of elected officials who have endorsed his campaign — state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, House Speaker Dean Cannon, state Senator and former acting Republican Party chair John Thrasher, Congressman Connie Mack — Adam Hasner has been racking up statements of support from prominent talk radio hosts. Alongside Mark Levin and Hugh Hewitt, he can now add Joyce Kaufman, the South Florida talker who helped promote the campaign of now-Rep. Allen West and (almost) went to work for him in Washington." "Joyce Kaufman endorses Hasner".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Members of the Orlando police SWAT team raided a time-share and credit-assistance telemarketing business Wednesday, holding employees at gunpoint and confiscating computers and other equipment. Officers said H.E.S. Systems, 4401 E. Colonial Drive, was ripping off people by falsely claiming it could lower credit-card interest and also was running a time-share scam. The raid was part of a continuing investigation into businesses that, according to investigators, have scammed thousands of people worldwide out of at least $8.5 million." "Orlando police raid telemarketing firm". More entrepreneurs in action: "Pawn shop wants burglary victim to pay $1,150 for her jewelry".
Good news, bad news
"First, the good news: Florida foreclosures are down 60 percent for the first half of 2011, compared to the same period last year. Next, the bad: The decline in foreclosures does not reflect a rebound in the housing market, but, as expected, a delay in the foreclosure process". "Foreclosures Down in Florida, but Court Funding Threatened". Related: "Foreclosure filings on the rise again in Southwest Florida", "Foreclosures drop in Florida but it could be just a temporary dip" and "Orlando loses its foreclosure infamy for now, report shows".
RPOFer's scam allegedly cost taxpayers $1.4 billion
"Sargeant, a top GOP fundraiser, is a past finance chair of the Florida Republican Party".
U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman in 2008 said Sargeant's Boca Raton-based company earned $210 million on the contracts that had then cost taxpayers $1.4 billion. He asked then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to investigate. The investigation is ongoing."Sargeant business partner testifies he was cut out of deal".
On the backs of the workers
"Miami-Dade mayor: Rein in spending, cut taxes and 1,300 jobs".
Where are tyhe Hispanic Democratic candidates?
The Sun Sentinel editors wonder "why has the state not seen a growing number of Hispanic Democratic candidates?" "Democrats need to have more Hispanic candidates".
Rubio whines "it will be Obama’s fault"
"Republicans from across Florida took aim at President Barack Obama this week for bringing up the possibility of freezing Social Security, Medicaid, military pay and veterans’ benefits if a federal government shutdown occurs."
Already the subject of talk about a possible future presidential campaign -- and a leading possibility for the vice presidential spot on the 2012 Republican tickert -- the new U.S. senator from Florida fired away at Obama."Florida Republicans Bash Obama for Threats Over Debt Limit". Related: "Debt-ceiling debate goes nuclear with accusations over Social Security" and "Bill Nelson: Exempt Social Security from debt ceiling".
Appearing on the Hugh Hewitt radio show Tuesday, Rubio took off the gloves and ripped into Obama over federal budget negotiations.
Asked by Hewitt if seniors in Florida would be impacted by not getting Social Security checks, Rubio insisted, if that happens, it will be Obama’s fault.
Will the Crist rise again?
"Of three of the biggest political names in Florida, only one -- former Gov. Charlie Crist -- has a favorable rating topping 40 percent, according to a new Sunshine State News poll."
The former governor, who bolted the Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate as an independent in 2010, enjoys a 42 percent favorable rating -- besting both U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson."Poll Points to Second Coming of Charlie Crist".
Just eight months after losing to Rubio, Crist now holds a 42-33 favorable/unfavorable rating compared with Rubio's tighter 38-34 ranking.
Nelson, who is up for re-election in 2012, has a 32-27 favorable/unfavorable score. Surprisingly, 41 percent of respondents expressed no opinion or were "not aware" of him, an astonishingly high figure for a two-term senator and former congressman who has held elective office for four decades.
"No fairness in allowing BP to rush for the exit"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Barely a year has passed since BP established a claims fund to compensate victims along the Gulf of Mexico for the worst oil spill in American history. Yet the oil giant is ready to wrap things up and declare the disaster over. In a letter this month to the third-party claims administrator, BP says the gulf's 'recovery had occurred by the end of 2010' and suggests it's time to close the checkbook."
To their credit, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are on the same page in dismissing the letter and in demanding that BP honor its obligations. "They are trying to disengage," Rubio said. Adam Putnam, the state's agriculture commissioner, said flatly: "They still have a lot of claims in line before they start closing the purse." The federal government needs to continue with its environmental impact study, and Florida officials should demand from BP full payment for losses. Many victims and communities will need years to recover, and there is no fairness in allowing BP to rush for the exit."Don't let BP off hook early for oil spill".
'Ya got a problem wit dat?
"Nutrient runoff and algal blooms hurt the bottom line along the Caloosahatchee".
Florida news tidbits
"Will Florida’s “Health Care Freedom Amendment” help you escape “ObamaCare”? Probably not. Plus: five more bite-sized bits of Florida news!" "Six in the morning: A six-pack of Florida news tidbits".
We can't have that, now can we
Phoney Politifact can't bring itself to acknowledge that this assertion - "PolitiFact: Gov. Rick Scott says public pensions would have required taxes to climb" - is entirely untrue. To do so would bring itself into conflict with the defined benefit pension plan hating editorial boards, and we can't have that, now can we.
Governor's office has no response
"A 2006 study for the Farmworker Association of Florida found that 79 percent of Lake Apopka farmworkers felt their exposure to pesticides had affected their health. In May, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $500,000 in the state budget requested by Sen. Gary Siplin to treat ailing farmworkers. ... There was no response to a request for comment on Wednesday from the governor's press office." "Senate Agriculture Committee to study plight of Lake Apopka farmworkers".
Private citizens on the horizon?
"Frustrated by the inability to win changes from state lawmakers, the chairman of the state-created Citizens Property Insurance Corp. said on Wednesday that legislators should privatize part of the company." "State-backed Citizens could be privatized". See also "Malone discusses privatizing state-backed Citizens".
"Doctors say they've been gagged by new state law"
"Thousands of doctors who say they've been gagged by a new state law banning their discussion of gun ownership with patients urged a federal judge Wednesday to stop enforcement of the statute — legislation pushed by firearm advocates and signed into law last month by Gov. Rick Scott." "Doctors ask court to lift restrictions on gun questions in examine room". See also "Doctors ask federal judge to block new gun law" and "Fla. docs ask judge to block gag law on guns".