Remember this the next time you read an editorial board parroting Chamber of Commerce propaganda about how it is unfair that Florida's public employees have "better" pension plans than do Florida's private sector employees.
"Florida is at the bottom when it comes to workers participating in a employment-based retirement plan — which may further strain social service programs in the years ahead."
Already, more impoverished Floridians 65 and over, are receiving food stamps and Medicaid than ever before, according to the state's December statistics."Florida has lowest rate of workers saving in a employer retirement plan".
That may worsen with Florida having the lowest rate in the nation of workers, from 21 to 64, qualifying for a pension or saving for retirement at their jobs, according to the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Just 43.7 percent of the Sunshine State's full-time, full-year workers participated in an employer-based retirement plan, the institute reported last month.
Most Floridians aren't in large corporate or government jobs that offer pensions, and many others can't afford to save from their low wages for their retirement, said Craig Copeland, author of "Retirement Plan Participation Lowest in the South, West." ...
In contrast, West Virginia has the nation's highest rate of workers being part of retirement plans — nearly two thirds — thanks to the state having a large number of middle-class federal employees and trade union workers, Copeland added.
This Legislature "could impress even skeptics"
Randy Schultz: "The 160 legislators who convene Tuesday in Tallahassee for the annual session campaigned on pledging to do the people's business. The skeptic would say that, once they get there, many worry more about doing the special interests' business. It's shocking, I know. Still, there is one issue on which, in an election year, they could impress even skeptics." "Can the Legislature dispense some common sense?".
2012 session issues
"While the budget, redistricting and gambling look certain to dominate the 2012 session, a few other issues will compete for lawmakers' attention. They include:"
- Citizens Property Insurance Corp.With respect to unemployment taxes, "Florida businesses are facing an $817 million increase in unemployment taxes this spring unless lawmakers act. The tax increase is needed to repay $2.4 billion the state borrowed from the federal government to cover benefits for jobless workers. Businesses are fighting the higher tax - up to $100 per employee - but Scott doesn't want to go deeper in debt to the feds." "Issues to watch in the 2012 Florida legislative session". See also "8 thorny issues lawmakers will be handling this session" and "Budget, district boundaries will be key issues as 2012 Florida legislative session begins".
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- Job Creation
- 'Caylee's Law'
- Unemployment Taxes
- Claims bills
- Online taxes
36 pennies more ... oh, the outrage!
One Tamela Perdue, the "general counsel" of Associated Industries of Florida, whines that
Florida businesses brace for yet another increase in labor costs, which further erodes their ability to maintain existing jobs and create new jobs for the nearly 1 million Floridians who are out of work. Thanks to a 2004 constitutional amendment, Florida's minimum hourly wage increases each Jan. 1 to an amount commensurate with cost- of-living increases as calculated by the Consumer Price Index."Mandating minimum wage hike".
This year, that increase translates to 36 cents an hour. While that might not seem like very much when viewed from an individual perspective, the aggregate cost to Florida employers adds up to tens of millions of additional dollars this year alone.
Imagine that, providing minimum wage employees an increase "commensurate with cost- of-living increases". That is to say, an increase just enough and not a penny more to keep minimum wage workers precisely where they were. And this is somehow stifling the "creativity" of the so-called "job creators" Ms. Perdue serves?
Romney may be well positioned to win Florida's 50 delegates
Adam C. Smith: "If Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman are still campaigning after South Carolina, Romney will be well positioned to win Florida's 50 delegates and probably will be unstoppable on his march to the nomination. It could be a whole new race, however, if the field thins and somebody can consolidate the anti-Romney vote." "Romney mobilizes to squash his rivals".
Another dead firefighter won't enjoy that "lavish" pension
"A veteran South Florida firefighter has died after falling nearly 100 feet from the top of a ladder truck during a training exercise." "Fla. firefighter falls from ladder, dies".
Gingrich dead enders
"Gingrich has added a couple of big GOP names to his Florida campaign: former Attorney General and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum and former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty are the new co-chairmen of the state effort." "GOP heft for Gingrich".
Measures passed by the Fla-GOP last year still in court
"Several high-profile measures passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year are still being challenged in the courts as lawmakers get set to begin their 2012 session Tuesday."
The targets include 2011 legislation on elections, public employee pensions, prison privatization, welfare drug testing, guns and teacher pay and tenure — about a dozen bills in all."Lawsuits over 2011 Fla. legislation unresolved".
Most are far from being resolved and some likely will end up in the Florida Supreme Court. ...
The measure drawing the most legal attention with five cases is the new election law.
Four of its provisions are being reviewed by a three-judge U.S. District Court panel in Washington, D.C.
Those sections cut the number of early voting days, put new restrictions on organizations that conduct voter registration drives, require voters who change out-of-county addresses at the polls on Election Day to cast provisional ballots and reduce the shelf life of citizen initiative petition signatures from four to two years.
Opponents, including the ACLU, League of Women Voters and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, argue the law is designed to suppress voting by minorities, the elderly and young people who tend to vote Democratic.
Republicans who backed the law say it will prevent election fraud that the critics say has been virtually nonexistent.
The court will determine whether those provisions comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. The Justice Department has cleared the rest of the law, but Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning chose to have the court, instead, rule on the most controversial provisions. Browning, a Scott appointee, said he wanted the decision to be free of "outside influence."
The court, though, is getting plenty of outside help. More than two dozen individuals and groups have intervened against the provisions. A ruling is not expected until April at the earliest.
The League of Women Voters, with an assist from the ACLU, has filed a separate federal lawsuit in Tallahassee against the voter registration provision. It says filing requirements, fines and a two-day deadline for turning in registration applications are so onerous it has suspended registration efforts in Florida. The case is set for hearing Jan. 26.
A federal judge in Miami dismissed another challenge by the ACLU but left the door open for filing it again later. ...
The outcome of the pension plan lawsuit could blow a hole in the current state budget and widen a $2 billion gap lawmakers are anticipating in spending plan for the next budget year that begins July 1.
The new law requires state and county employees, including public school teachers as well as some city workers, to contribute 3 percent of their pay to the Florida Retirement System. ...
Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford has not yet ruled, but her decision is expected to be appealed regardless.
This is apparently what passes for a "Distinguished Speaker" in Naples these days
"Although some may know him best for his dire political predictions, conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck told a Naples audience Saturday night that the time is ripe for citizens to reclaim a sense of empowerment."
The initial speaker in this season's Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speaker Series, Beck addressed a crowd of approximately 1,100 under a massive tent on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort at Tiburon in North Naples."Glenn Beck provokes, inspires in Town Hall talk in Naples".
Rothstein's buddies brace themselves
"A lot of people who benefitted from their association with Scott Rothstein could soon face criminal charges." "Rothstein’s ex-buddies brace for criminal charges". See also "How Scott Rothstein became the toast of Fort Lauderdale".
The best the Rickster can do?
"Gov. Scott solicits business suggestions via Facebook".
"Citizens, not carpetbaggers"
The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Out-of-state businesses have benefitted for years by Florida's unfair tax policy. It's time for legislators to stand up for Florida's businesses and its citizens, not carpetbaggers." "Stand up for tax fairness".
"Not your father's (or mother's) manufacturing jobs"
"From producing diabetic testing supplies to making robotic surgical systems, South Florida manufacturers are generating jobs. But they're not your father's (or mother's) manufacturing jobs: many require highly technical training." "Skilled manufacturing jobs emerge in South Florida".
Worshiping wealthy guys
"Florida was shaped by one man’s passion for tourism".
"Miami, Hialeah listed in dubious rankings of worst-run cities".
Bogdanoff "ready to open the floodgates with her bill"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "A bad plan for casinos in Florida is getting worse. Now Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff wants to ensure every dog and horse track or jai alai fronton in the state has the ability to add slot machines, even after voters expressly chose in 2004 to limit slots to Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, will have to shed any pretense she's trying to contain gambling in Florida. She's ready to open the floodgates with her bill, and the Senate Regulated Industries Committee should just say no when it hears her revised plan Monday." "Bad casinos plan only getting worse".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "New casino bill worse deal".
"Miami-Dade lawmakers will be at the center of much of the action in this year’s legislative session, particularly when it comes to gambling." "Miami-Dade lawmakers eye gambling, state funds in session". Related: "Broward lawmakers to tackle redistricting, gambling".