Lloyd Dunkelberger: "The evolution of Rick Scott as Florida’s governor will continue in some interesting ways in the next few weeks. And it all has to do with the governor’s unique power to veto legislation or state spending. ... Here are some of the critical veto decisions he faces:"
— The $70 billion state budget was dropped on his desk on Friday. He has until April 21 to act on the annual spending plan, which takes effect July 1."Scott has balancing act with veto power".
Last year, Scott staged a campaign-styled rally in The Villages retirement community in Central Florida as he slashed $615 million in spending from the budget — a record amount.
Scott will aggressively use his line-item veto power this year. But he has already signaled that lawmakers may be able to make a case for keeping some of their hometown projects intact. As an example, on Friday in Sarasota Scott said he was open to the idea of using $5 million in state funds for an international rowing facility — a project he vetoed last year.
— Florida Polytechnic University. Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, pushed through the bill to create the state’s 12th university by converting the University of South Florida’s polytechnic facility in Lakeland into an independent university.
Alexander has personally lobbied the governor on the bill and Scott said he likes the idea of creating a school focused on degrees in technology, science, engineering and math fields — all of which Scott sees as linked to Florida’s economic future. But he also said he is concerned about creating a new school while the state still faces major fiscal challenges.
— Tuition. The presidents of the University of Florida and Florida State University are scheduled to meet with Scott this week to make their case for a bill that will give those schools the ability to charge “market rate” tuition. The added tuition would be used by the schools to boost their top-performing programs.
Again Scott likes the idea of bolstering higher education if it is linked to job creation. But he has repeatedly raised concerns about making tuition unaffordable for students and their families.
— Renewable energy. Tea party groups and other conservative organizations are calling on Scott to veto a bill that will provide tax credits for companies expanding renewable energy sources in the state. The Americans for Prosperity group said the bill picks “winners and losers in the marketplace” and could lead to “a Solyndra-type boondoggle in Florida.”
Yet, the bill is strongly backed by state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — a leading national conservative when he was in Congress.
Putnam has defended the bill by saying it doesn’t pick favorites since all types of energy projects would be eligible. He also said the companies would not receive the credits until they spent money, created jobs and produced energy.
Scott has not taken a position on the bill.
Grubbing for teabaggers
Has come it to this? "LeMieux tries to convince tea party he's no Crist".
"Not just anyone can run an election"
Randy Schultz: "In ancient times, before 2000, Florida elections supervisors had profiles lower than mob guys in witness protection. Then came the butterfly ballot and Bush vs. Gore and the realization that not just anyone can run an election - or at least run an election well."
Palm Beach County is on its third elections supervisor since then and next year may have a fourth. Meanwhile, the Legislature has made two major revisions in how the state conducts elections and another big change designed to make voter registration harder."Only spotlight for elections supervisors is harsh".
Point being, the workings of elections never have been under more scrutiny. Sadly, 12 years after the biggest election fiasco in U.S. history, Palm Beach County remains unable to produce a string of trouble-free elections, no matter who is in charge.
"Chamber Survey Finds Hiring Optimism in Florida Business".
"Florida gun law creates a 'national embarrassment' around RNC"
"NYT editorial: Florida gun law creates a 'national embarrassment' around RNC in Tampa".
"Congressman and Senate candidate Connie Mack launches a petition to get a controversial pipeline approved. Will voters believe that it will help lower gas prices?" "Connie Mack launches pipeline petition, bashes Bill Nelson over gas".
Scott vetoes market-based approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions
"Scott has signed a bill repealing a cap and trade law designed to control power plant emissions in Florida. ... It was intended as a market-based approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global warming. The concept, though, has fallen out of favor among Republicans who control the Florida Legislature." "Scott signs Florida cap and trade law repeal".
The best he can do?
"Gov. Scott brings Google, Intuit to Tampa to get business on the Web".
"A Republican congressional candidate in Southwest Florida is questioning what he calls an opponent's "creepy" purchase of personal Internet domain names." "CD 19 Candidate Questions 'Creepy' Purchase of His Domain Names".
Obama Florida bound
"Obama headed to FAU on Tuesday to tout recovery".
Another fine budget cut
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The Legislature's surprise decision to cut $31 million from the budgets of the state's circuit court clerks deserves the governor's veto." "Don't weaken arm of courts".
Florida's fealty to the NRA "started in 1987"
"Gun rights supporters and gun control activists alike see Florida as one of the nation’s gun-friendliest states."
Its reputation as the “Gunshine State” is rooted in politics, culture and the seemingly irresistible force of Marion Hammer, a soft-spoken grandmother who parlayed her gun rights advocacy in Florida into becoming the first female president of the National Rifle Association."How the NRA attained dominance in the 'Gunshine State'".
The Feb. 26 shooting death of unarmed Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford has cast a national spotlight on Florida’s first-in-the-nation “stand your ground” law, which allows individuals who feel threatened to use deadly force to defend themselves in any public place where they have a right to be.
But that law is just one of a slew of pro-gun laws that Florida has put on the books in the past 25 years.
It started in 1987 when Florida became the first state to create a “shall issue” concealed weapons license. ...
Villages packs them in
Republican mecca "The Villages and surrounding Sumter County experienced strong growth from 2010 to 2011, with a 4.6 percent population increase." "The Villages booms, drawing thousands of new residents".
And low wage service jobs to boot
Scott Maxwell: "So SeaWorld posted record earnings last year — yet didn't have to pay a dime in either federal income or state corporate taxes." "SeaWorld gets whale-sized tax breaks".
Week in Review
"The Week in Review for April 2 to April 6". See also "Weekly Roundup: Trayvon Martin; $70 Billion Budget".
Rubio's DREAM Games
"Prerna Lal of DREAM Activist writes Thursday: "
“I realize that the bill is a careful political calculation from the GOP to try to win back some Latino support,” and “I also understand that this entire charade ultimately has to do with the fact that the GOP does not want to grant citizenship to 12 million undocumented immigrants.”"DREAM Activists open to Rubio’s ‘conservative-Republican alternative’".
Lal adds: “The GOP is driven by its anti-immigrant and white supremacist fringe, the Democrats are yet to develop a moral compass on immigrant rights but take us for granted nonetheless, our advocates in the non-profit industrial complex keep earning a paycheck due to stalemate on the issue, and undocumented youth continue to serve as mere political football to be tossed from side to side.”
Meanwhile, "Illegal status foils law school graduates in Florida".
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial board: "The vast majority of Florida's multibillion-dollar settlement with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers comes with strings attached." "Help for troubled homeowners".
"Florida Fair Districts groups release own Senate map".
"Scott has vetoed a bill that would have let nonviolent felons get sentence reductions by completing rehabilitation programs. ... Scott says the prisoner rehabilitation bill would have been an injustice to victims." "Scott vetoes Fla. prisoner rehabilitation bill".
Injustice to victims? Funny that ... considering that Rick Scott headed up a company involved in defrauding $1.7 billion from federal Medicare and Medicaid programs: "In July 1997, FBI agents raided Columbia/HCA accounting offices in seven states, including Florida. Within days, Columbia’s board of directors ousted Scott, but gave him a nearly $10 million severance package, including stock shares worth $300 million and a $1 million a year consulting contract." More here. See also "Ex-Employee Details Fraud in Rick Scott's Health Care Firm".
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "With its finances in disarray and its students at a daily risk of falling behind, the ineptly administered and bankrupt Life Force Arts and Technology Academy charter school in Dunedin has become a community embarrassment that cannot be shut down soon enough. It should serve as a clarion call to Florida lawmakers to tighten up oversight of privately run schools that receive public money." "Bad charter can't close soon enough".