"Unusual and unpredictable 60-day session"
"The Florida Legislature convenes Tuesday for an unusual and unpredictable 60-day session that will be dominated by two highly partisan subjects: the redrawing of political districts and yet another round of budget-cutting." "Maps, money dominate".
"$2 billion projected budget shortfall"
"When the Florida Legislature convenes for its annual 60-day session on Tuesday, a $2 billion projected budget shortfall and the redrawing of political districts will dominate." "State lawmakers open session facing $2 billion budget shortfall".
"Scott once again making travel plans"
"Scott is once again making travel plans. This time the destination is Spain, Florida’s 34th largest trading partner. The excursion would mix business development with possible tourist development tied to the pending quincentennial of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon y Figueroa’s first expedition to Florida. A spokeswoman for the governor’s office called the plans preliminary and deferred comment to Enterprise Florida." "Scott Sets Sights on Travel to Spain as Florida Approaches its Quincentennial".
Perhaps we'll see another embarrassment like this from our latest anti-intellectual Republican Governor:
The U.S. president's brother Jeb Bush has sparked criticism after mistakenly referring to Spain as a republic in a speech to Spanish business leaders during a trip to Madrid to discuss business opportunities."Speaking in Spanish, Bush said: 'I want to thank the president of the Republic of Spain for his friendship with the United States.'"
Florida Governor Jeb Bush's blunder was reminiscent of President George W. Bush's past slip-ups which have included pronouncing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's name incorrectly.
Spanish historian Juan Pablo Fusi said the error by Bush was "foolish and grotesque."
"It's an offence to Spain and its democratic monarchy," Fusi told Reuters. "It further ridicules the Bushes in general."
Spain has not been a republic since the late 1930s, when General Francisco Franco crushed Republican troops in the Civil War."Jeb Bush slips on Spanish history".
Franco's nationalist dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975, when Spain became a constitutional monarchy. King Juan Carlos I is now the head of state.
His older brother President Bush once referred to Aznar as "Anzar" ahead of his first visit to Spain as U.S. president in 2001.
President Bush, accused by opponents of having a shaky grasp on geography, has also famously referred to Greeks as Grecians.
Thank you, Mr. Obama ... but will Fla-Baggers "derail it with shortsighted gimmicks"?
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "There are encouraging signs, however small, that Florida is on the rebound from the Great Recession. Statistics trickling in last week from 2011 find bankruptcy filings down and fewer state banks failing. For the first time in six years, more moving vans headed into Florida than out."
This news comes after several months of slowly descending unemployment rates that still remain at 10 percent. Now the challenge for Florida leaders is to build on that momentum, not derail it with poor policy decisions or shortsighted gimmicks."Sustain Florida's rebound".
Florida, of course, isn't alone in this recovery. Bankruptcy filings are down across the country, for example, and the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in December, the lowest in nearly three years. Florida, a state so dependent on development and growth, will take longer to pull out of this crisis than most.
"Florida's Top 10 fact-checks of 2011"
"PolitiFact Florida's Top 10 fact-checks of 2011".
"FlaDems see hope in 201"
Jeremy Wallace: "The more the economy shows signs of recovery the more Rod Smith’s optimism for 2012 grows."
If so, Smith said not only will Florida be a win for Obama in 2012, but Democrats will pick up seats in Congress from Florida."Democrats see hope in 2012".
Smith said one of the keys for Democrats will be to compare the direction of the economy now, with where it was heading when Obama took office. He said if Democrats can communicate that, 2012 will be a good for the party.
"Romney wins here in a cakewalk if ..."
Carl Hiaasen: "Florida is being overrun by pundits and pollsters in advance of the upcoming Republican presidential primary."
That’s because (a) everyone is sick of Des Moines and Manchester in the winter, and (b) the Florida primary is actually important, unlike the Iowa caucuses or the balloting in puny New Hampshire, which barely has half the population of Miami-Dade County."Mitt wins … unless he blows it".
The national media’s mission in the weeks ahead is to inject the Florida primary contest with high drama and suspense. In reality, the race is easy to call.
Mitt Romney wins here in a cakewalk if ...
"Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is making tentative plans to be in Sarasota County on Jan. 24 — one week before Florida’s presidential primary. Sarasota Republican Party chairman Joe Gruters said he expects as many as five of the remaining contenders to make it to Sarasota during the week before Florida votes in its pivotal primary." "Gingrich in Sarasota".
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy: "Access to Care Plummeted In Medicaid Reform Experiment".
Romney has double-digit lead over Gingrich in Florida
"Mitt Romney has opened up a double-digit lead over Newt Gingrich in Florida’s GOP presidential race with Iowa phenom Rick Santorum rising from obscurity to third place, a new Quinnipiac University poll says." "Romney holds 36-24 lead over Gingrich in new Florida poll; Santorum surges to 16 %".
Florida panther deaths
"3 Florida panther deaths recorded so far in 2012".
Scott "works daily with the dealmakers he once condemned"
"Scott is no longer the anti-establishment Republican; instead, he embodies the Florida GOP establishment. He has shifted his top staff from outsiders to insiders, and works daily with the dealmakers he once condemned."
He has come to alignment with the party on most issues — he moderated some of his most drastic stances, and the tea party-influenced GOP has grown more conservative."Scott harmonizes, gains inside track in state politics".
As spokesman for the state party, Scott gets warm receptions at high-profile GOP events — the national party quarterly conference in Tampa in August, and the Presidency 5 state convention in September. ...
"When you become governor of Florida … you have to be part of the establishment. You're the definition of an insider," said Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee insider who was a key Scott opponent during the campaign but is now a political ally and adviser.
One of the state's most prominent lobbyists, Ballard raises money for Scott's Let's Get to Work political action committee. ...
Scott reshuffled his top staff, replacing chief of staff Mike Prendergast of Tampa, a retired Army officer with little political or government experience, with Tallahassee insider Stephen MacNamara, the kind of person Scott had campaigned against.
MacNamara is a former high-profile legislative staff member, secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and veteran GOP political operative.
Also gone was GOP political operative Mary Ann Campbell, who had helped run Scott's personally funded advertising campaign against President Barack Obama's health care reform proposal before Scott ran for governor.
"Huge temptation for state lawmakers everywhere"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Gambling opponents in Florida were already facing a tough fight this legislative session against the well-financed push for casino resorts in South Florida. Then, from an unexpected direction, things got worse. In a quiet ruling released the Friday before the Christmas weekend, the U.S. Justice Department cracked open the door for Internet gambling, and a small crack may be all the powerful industry needs to muscle its way into homes far and wide."
Written long before the Internet, the 1961 law failed to anticipate today's wired and wireless world. It made it a crime to use wire communication to assist betting on "any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wages.""Gambling interests hold strong hand".
Until Dec. 23, that was interpreted to cover all interstate betting on the Internet. Now the federal interpretation is that a state may put lottery operations online within that state, because the old law was just about sporting events.
Gambling interests are celebrating because they correctly anticipate that states will be happy to exploit the Internet. Next would come networks of states, then the whole country.
Florida leaders have been talking about trying to squeeze more money out of the lottery for education. If they make the mistake of taking the lottery onto the Internet, stopping other games from following will be hard, if not impossible.
The tax revenue involved, with no need for a visible tax increase, will be a huge temptation for state lawmakers everywhere.
Political courtship for the votes of Florida's senior citizens
"A political courtship is about to unfold for the hearts, minds and votes of Florida's senior citizens. Democrats as well as Republicans are targeting older voters in Florida and other key states this year, knowing they turn out in big numbers and could sway the presidential election as well as majority control of Congress." "Florida's seniors could sway results of 2012 elections".
Expect "cuts in health and human services programs"
"By now, it's a familiar scene: As Florida lawmakers deal with a budget shortfall, hospitals, nursing homes and other health providers scramble to fend off -- or brace for -- funding cuts."
Already, Gov. Rick Scott has proposed deep cuts in Medicaid payments to hospitals, as he tries to free up money to boost spending on public schools. And while it's too early to know whether lawmakers will go along with Scott's proposal, they are almost certain to make cuts in health and human services programs."Health Care Under the Knife as Session Gets Under Way".
Hospitals, nursing homes and numerous other programs say they have been hammered by cuts during the past few years. The debate during the session, which starts Tuesday, will focus on where further cuts will be made -- and by how much.
Scott has "moved the goalpost by 1 million jobs"
"A year in, Scott has kept a third of the campaign promises we track on the Scott-O-Meter. He sold the state planes. He hasn't taken the $130,000 governor's salary. He eliminated what critics call "tenure" for new K-12 teachers."
He also reached a compromise with the Republican Legislature on a plan to cut the state workforce by 5 percent (it shrunk about 3.5 percent last year) and a promise to reform Citizens Property Insurance and allow the state-run insurer to charge market-based premiums (the Legislature wasn't ready to go that far)."Rating Rick Scott's campaign promises at the 1-year mark".
Of 57 promises, he's kept 19. Just a third of his promises are now rated Broken or Stalled.
But all of that is just context for the promise Scott called his "whole campaign" — his vow to create 700,000 jobs over seven years. ...
But instead of more than 20,000 new jobs each month, he's now promising just over 8,300.
He's moved the goalpost by 1 million jobs.