"State lawmakers should prepare to cover a $2 billion gap in next year's budget, Florida's chief economist said Thursday, citing local and global factors."
Economist Amy Baker told the Senate Budget Committee that Florida's recovery is being slowed by the European debt crisis, the likelihood of default by Greece and a lack of consumer confidence in America. Closer to home, Baker said, Medicaid and court costs are rising, and a gross receipts tax that pays for school and university construction is generating less money than projected."Adding to the budget pressure is the Legislature's insistence on setting aside at least $1 billion in a reserve fund for emergencies."
A glimmer of hope in Baker's report is that economists forecast slow but steady improvement in state revenue growth in future years — 6 percent in 2013 and 2014 and 5 percent in 2015, based on the expectation that consumers who now live in Florida will start buying the cars, furniture and appliances that generate needed sales tax revenue."State economist: Lawmakers should be ready to whack $2 billion from budget". See also "With Florida Officials Facing $2 Billion Deficit, 'Everything Is on the Table'" and "Lawmakers get look at grim budget picture".
Little Marco not really "son of exiles" as he claims
"During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) frequently repeated a compelling version of his family's history -- that he was the "son of exiles," forced out of Cuba after Fidel Castro took power."
But a review by The Washington Post of documents -- including naturalization papers and other official records -- reveals that Rubio's dramatic account of his family saga embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio's parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than 2-1/2 years before Castro's forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year's Day 1959, according to the Post's story."Report: Marco Rubio's family story embellishes facts".
The falsehood was a key component of Rubio's political persona: "We’re not talking about obscure media outlets that picked up this narrative. ABC News profiled Rubio last spring and said he wasn’t 'your typical right winger. His parents fled Castro's Cuba, his dad going to work as a bartender in Vegas, wishing for his son that one day he'd have a job where he'd wear a suit to work.'" "Pushing back on the Rubio story".
Combo from hell
Matt Towery: "According to three Insider Advantage polls released this week, the combined support for Gingrich and Cain leaves all other Republican candidates in the dust." "Wanna Know a Secret? When 'Melrose Place' Meets Politics".
RPOFer "rekindles divisive debate over illegal immigration"
"A state senator's comments ignited a fierce rebuke from his colleagues Thursday when he said that voters should be screened for citizenship before legislators draw a congressional district to favor Hispanics."
Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, rekindled the divisive debate over illegal immigration when he told the Senate committee reviewing a series of congressional redistricting plans that "before we design a district anywhere in the state of Florida for Hispanic voters, we need to ascertain that they are citizens of the United States. ..."Several members of the Republican-dominated group met late Wednesday and considered drafting a letter of complaint, said the caucus chairman, Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami. Garcia said he asked Hays for an explanation and Cruz and Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami, demanded Hays apologize or resign." "Immigration debate rekindled". See also "AUDIO: State senator blasted for saying ‘many Hispanic-speaking’ Floridians ‘are not legal’".
Florida will receive two additional congressional seats because of its population growth in the last 10 years that, according to U.S. census data, was largely fueled by the surge in the state's Hispanic population. Hays made the comments in response to a proposal being considered by the Senate Reapportionment Committee that would create a Hispanic-majority district in Central Florida, where the Puerto Rican population has exploded.
The wingers think Hays is on to sumthin': "When state Sen. Alan Hays suggested that the creation of 'Hispanic districts' be predicated on legal citizenship, not illegal residency, everyone ran for cover." "Lawmaker Exposes Inconvenient Truths on Redistricting and Illegals".
Chamber pushes Charters
"The Florida Chamber of Commerce today released its 2012 legislative agenda, which includes support for education changes that strengthen charter schools, expand the use of public funds for virtual/private schools and broaden the use of technology in the classroom." "Florida Chamber of Commerce wants more public funds for private schools".
"Awake the State"
"Awake the State is organizing and mobilizing Floridians who are against Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-led state Legislature during a summit in Orlando this weekend. Organizers are describing the event as a 'gathering of both organizers and supporters collaborating to build a stronger movement.'" "Progressives gather this weekend at Awake the State Summit to plan for legislative session".
"DCCC chairman discusses Rivera, Buchanan, other targets".
While the rest of us were sleepin'
"Firefighters battle blaze".
Haridopolos' no-new-tax pledge trumps taxes on online sales
"Senate President Mike Haridopolos said Thursday that even though Florida is facing a potential $2 billion budget shortfall next year, the state won't attempt to plug the gap by imposing taxes on online sales. ... Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said collecting those taxes without 'off-setting' the revenue by cutting taxes elsewhere would violate the Republican-controlled Legislature's no-new-tax pledge. " "Senate president: No tax on Internet sales". See also "Chamber Backs Online Tax Collection, Education Reforms in 2012 Agenda".
Florida political pros don't see Cain going the distance
"Herman Cain is at the top of national and early state presidential primary polls, and yet it’s hard to find political professionals who see him going the distance."
Why? Look no further than Florida, where die-hard Cain fans can’t find campaign staffers to contact, where prominent Republicans can’t get calls to the campaign returned and where some people describe themselves as the campaign’s Florida leaders while others say the same people are well-meaning but overzealous volunteers."Herman Cain's campaign puzzles political establishment".
“I see absolutely nothing from them in Florida,” said Gainesville-based Republican consultant Alex Patton, recounting two prominent Republican activist friends who struggled to get campaign calls returned. “It’s very hard for me to get behind that guy because I don’t take him seriously. I don’t care what the polls show and what the focus groups show. It’s got to translate into fundraising, and it’s got to translate into structure, and I don’t see either.”
Cain allies say some top-tier political professionals are poised to join the skeletal Cain operation in Florida within days. By some accounts that can’t happen soon enough if the former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive is to capitalize on his momentum with only 10 weeks before absentee voting starts in Florida.
Sarasota County resists right wing pension attacks
"Sarasota's failed attempt to drastically pare pensions for police officers this week should serve as a warning to other cities looking to cut costs." "How police pensions defied the Sarasota ax".
Salaries of Florida professors $6,000 below national average
"The average salaries of full-time professors at public universities in Florida offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees fall about $6,000 below the national average, said John W. Curtis, director of research and public policy with the American Association of University Professors." "Florida professors earn below national average, data show".
"Possible because of investments Florida taxpayers"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The 280 high-paying jobs a New York biotech firm promised as it announced Thursday it is relocating to St. Petersburg is the exact kind of job growth Florida needs. But the full lesson of wooing IRX Therapeutics Inc. — which is developing a new drug for mouth and throat cancers — is that this success is possible because of investments Florida taxpayers have been making for decades in higher education. It is a reminder that our state's future is limited only by our ambition and willingness to financially commit to it." "Commit, invest, and jobs follow". See also "Biotech Firm IRX Returning to Tampa Bay Area With 280 Jobs Over Five Years".
Lawsuit over Florida tuition for children of undocumented immigrants
"Attorneys filed a federal suit arguing that scores of American students — who were born in the United States as children of undocumented immigrants — are being wrongly denied the right to pay in-state tuition at Florida’s colleges and universities." "U.S. citizens denied right to in-state tuition".
Have Floridians been duped by sky-high promises?
"Floridians have been duped by sky-high promises from the gambling industry in the past, says No Casinos. And that's why residents should be wary of any promises related to a new proposal for a massive casino in downtown Miami, suggests the group."
No Casinos claimed that slot proponents promised the voters $500 million per year for schools and have generated a "paltry 20 percent of that figure." ..."Anti-gambling group says South Florida slots didn't meet $500 million tax revenue promise".
In reality, the amount of projected revenue at the time was more complicated and depended upon how many facilities added slots and whether it was in one or two counties and the rules set by the Legislature -- and proponents certainly didn't make those caveats clear in the ads we viewed although they did couch it with "could." The amount of revenue generated is about 20 percent a year of the $500 million. We rate this claim Mostly True.
State's September unemployment numbers released today
"As Gov. Rick Scott jets into Brazil on a weeklong trade mission, Florida labor officials are preparing to release the state's unemployment numbers for September."
Florida's unemployment rate has stagnated at 10.7 percent for the past three months and remains well above the national average of 9.1 percent. Florida is one of nine states that reported double-digit unemployment in August."Florida labor officials to release September figures".
"Raising the ire of commercial real estate groups"
"A decision by the Florida Department of Revenue to study how taxes are paid on business leases has raised the ire of commercial real estate groups."
By even studying the issue, the groups fear a tax will be imposed on renovations done after business owners sign leases to rent commercial space. Real estate experts believe any new tax will stymie job growth in Florida."Business lease study raises worries about new tax".
Not so fast, said Marshall Stranburg, general counsel for the Florida Department of Revenue. The agency, he said, needs to make sure the proper taxes are paid as more complex leases are used. The study is not being done to simply raise revenue, he said.
Birther wingnuts go after Rubio, Baggers give him a pass
Birther wingnuts are now going after Little Marco - they
are not challenging whether Rubio was born in Miami. Rather, they say Rubio is ineligible under Article 2 of the Constitution which says “no person except a natural born citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President.”"Rubio, whose national ascent has been propelled by a tea party that demands absolute fealty to the Constitution, shrugged off the issue."
The rub is that “natural born citizen” was never defined.
The birthers rely on writings at the time of the formation of the republic and references in court cases since then to contend that “natural born” means a person born to U.S. citizens. Rubio was born in 1971 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, his office said, but his parents did not become citizens until 1975[*].
“Marco Rubio was born a Cuban citizen via his parents,” screams a headline on a blog by birther Charles Kerchner, who obtained copies of the naturalization petitions by Rubio’s parents in May, igniting talk that is spreading across the Web.
Kerchner said Rubio is no different from Obama, who even though he was born in Hawaii (which he doubts), was not born to two U.S. citizens. Obama’s father was a Kenyan national. The birthers say Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose parents are from India and were not citizens at the time of his birth, is also unqualified.
However, "What seems a fringe issue today could blow up, like it did for Obama." "Birthers ask: Is Marco Rubio eligible to be president?".
Daniel Ruth: "Birther madness borne in the U.S.A.".
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*According to the Washington Post, Rubio has for some reason been mendacious about when his parents came to the U.S. (he obviously likes to present himself as the child of political refugees), even misrepresenting it on his official U.S. Senate bio.
Rubio scuttled to defend himself on his home court: Rubio defended himself on Fox, essentially blaming his dissembling on his parents poor memories. See generally "Little Marco's Tall Tales".
Meanwhile, Little Marco's usual champion, The Miami Herald, rushed to his rescue.
A Hialeah thing
"Martinez emphasizes past success in latest run for Hialeah mayor".