"A $400 million cut in university spending included in a $70.8 billion state budget proposal was approved Wednesday by the Senate budget panel, whose chief said schools can plug the gap with reserve funds he accused them of hoarding." "Senate budget would have FAU, other universities, dig into reserves". See also "Senate panel signs off on $70.8 billion budget".
Florida House: tax break for nonunion employers only
"The Florida House Wednesday passed a $121-million tax-cut package for businesses and manufacturers that backers say will be a special boost to small businesses, even as Democrats argued an anti-union provision in the bill makes it unconstitutional." Republicans had included an "amendment limiting the tax break to businesses that do not employ union workers." "Tax-cut package for business passes Florida House".
Meanwhile, "Rick Scott Declares 'Huge Victory' as House Passes Corporate Tax Exemption".
Unions sue to block privatizing prison health care
"Two labor unions have filed suit against the state Department of Corrections in an effort to prevent privatizing health care for all 100,000 inmates in the Florida prison system."
It's the latest controversy in the outsourcing of inmate health that began as a campaign pledge by Gov. Rick Scott. Protests by health vendors objecting to the original bid specifications have delayed the plan by months and contributed to ousting Scott's former prison chief."Unions sue over plan to privatize prison health care system".
The lawsuit was filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Federation of Physicians and Dentists/Alliance of Healthcare and Professional Employees.
Oil drilling in the Panhandle
"Fairways Exploration and Production LLC wants an agreement to explore and produce oil and gas at Blackwater River State Forest, where drilling is allowed in the state management plan. The bill was amended Wednesday by a House panel to address concerns among some senators that drilling could be encouraged in the Everglades, along beaches or in other natural areas." "Bill to encourage oil drilling on state lands amended to apply only to areas west of Tallahassee".
"Senate budget writers relented slightly Wednesday and unfroze $25 million of the University of South Florida's proposed budget for next year."
It's a step in the right direction, as one lawmaker put it, and USF officials expressed gratitude, but the school is still not satisfied. The money was not among the total budget cuts USF considered unfair. Rather, it was money the Senate wanted to sequester pending USF's cooperation in splitting off its Lakeland branch campus into the state's 12th university."Senators relent on $25M for USF". See also "PolitiFact Florida: Understanding the USF budget battle".
USF will still be expected to sever its ties with the campus, which would become Florida Polytechnic University under the Senate's budget plan. The only difference is, they won't have an extra financial hammer being held over their heads.
JD Alexander, the senate budget chairman pushing hardest to bring Florida Polytechnic to life, said he hopes USF can carry out that mission without that financial threat.
Right-wing groups want purge
"A right-wing group has announced it will 'pressure states and localities' through lawsuits, if necessary, 'to clean up voter registration rolls pursuant to Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).' The group claims that several states, including Florida, have voters on their registration rolls that are ineligible to vote." "Right-wing groups to ‘pressure states and localities’ to purge voter rolls".
Random drug testing state employees hits a snag
"The latest attempt to randomly drug test state employees in Florida hit a snag in a House appropriations committee today. The bill was voted down during the meeting, but was later reconsidered and then temporarily postponed — effectively squandering its chances of passing this session." "Latest attempt to drug test state employees stalled". See also "Lawmakers just say no to state worker drug tests".
Modernizing Florida's tax system
"Overcoming the obstacles to collecting unpaid sales tax on Internet purchases and raising additional revenue makes sense, particularly as part of a comprehensive plan to modernize the state's tax system to make it fairer to average Floridians and local small business owners." "Collecting Sales Tax on Internet Purchases Makes Sense As Part of Tax Modernization (.pdf)".
West lackey calls Republican Sheriff Bob Crowder "delusional"
"Just as Republican Sheriff Bob Crowder abandoned Rick Scott in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, GOP officials are distancing themselves from Crowder's primary run against U.S. Rep. Allen West."
"He's delusional," Martin County Executive Committee member Chuck Winn said of Crowder."GOP Weighs Primary Endorsement of Allen West against Martin County Sheriff".
Winn said he expects GOP organizations in the 18th Congressional District to endorse West in the primary -- if Crowder even gets that far.
"I'd be surprised if he manages to make it beyond the May filing deadline. I don't see where he gets his support," said Winn.
The two men have a history of political disagreements going back to at least 2006, when Crowder declined to support now-state Sen. Joe Negron's unsuccessful bid to replace former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley in the 16th Congressional District. In the 2008 sheriff's race, Winn filed to run against Crowder as an independent, mainly to ensure a closed primary and force Crowder to face two more conservative Republicans before only Republican voters in a largely conservative county.
Crowder, in an interview with Sunshine State News, played up his long roots in Martin and St. Lucie counties, which comprise the bulk of CD 18.
Florida’s Medicaid deforms violate federal law
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Two parts of Florida’s Medicaid reforms were jettisoned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because they would have violated federal law and been excessively burdensome." "Saving the Medicaid safety net".
"An abrupt about-face by the Florida Medical Association is helping to keep malpractice reform legislation alive, but at least one group of physicians is calling the move 'irresponsible.'" "FMA Deals In Optometrists to Keep Med-Mal Bill Alive, But at What Cost?".
"Giving to the system with one hand and taking with the other"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "If Gov. Scott and the Legislature truly want a top-ranked higher-education system that graduates students who can compete in the emerging knowledge economy, they will stop giving to the system with one hand and taking with the other. They also will stop treating the universities as fiefdoms." "Higher ed, lower politics: More time spent on personal agendas than on helping state".
"Help The Florida Independent by donating on Support Your Media Day".
Carpenters' political director rejects charges
"In a new interview with The Florida Independent, Miguel Fuentes, the political director of the Florida Carpenters Regional Council, rejects charges by opponents of a proposed South Florida immigration detention center that he is a 'lobbyist,' saying he supports the project because it will 'create jobs that are sorely needed.'" "Carpenters union denies charges by South Florida immigration detention center opponents".
"Tolls on freeways all over Florida"?
"A federal highway bill that likely would lead to tolls on Interstate 4 and freeways all over Florida is being denounced by environmentalists and mass-transit and bike enthusiasts. The prospect of tolls doesn't upset them, however. They contend the bill is an attempt to build nothing but car lanes across America — at the expense of bus and train riders, bicyclists and even pedestrians." "Groups line up against Mica's road-building plan".
Suggestions for Obama on Cuba
Andres Oppenheimer: "Obama should take the offensive on Cuba".
Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio spoke to his fellow Republican brethren at the Conservative Political Action Conference that "a U.S. Supreme Court justice [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] suggested that some U.S. cases will be decided based on South African law."
Mr. Rubio was dissembling: "
There is nothing in [Justice] Ginsburg’s interview in which she suggested that any legal matter in the U.S. should be decided based on anything from South African law. Ginsburg was giving advice to another country on how to draft a constitution, and she suggested examples written more recently than the U.S. Constitution. She didn’t dis the U.S. Constitution -- she explained that it was written at a time when slavery was legal and women didn’t have equal rights. In fact, Ginsburg also heaped lots of praise on the U.S. Constitution. We rate this claim False."Marco Rubio said a U.S. Supreme Court justice suggested that some U.S. cases will be decided based on South African law".