"A Walker loss could bolster Scott's critics"
Lloyd Dunkelberger: "If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survives a recall election Tuesday, it could give his Florida counterpart more breathing room to pursue a similar agenda here before facing re-election in 2014."
Like Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Walker has pushed to cut government spending, curb union power and create jobs, taking on teachers, firefighters and state workers in the process."To some extent, the political fates of Scott, Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — Republican governors who are the political personification of the wave of anti-government sentiment in the 2010 elections — may be intertwined."
The political blowback sparked a recall movement for Walker. Though the recall option isn't available to Florida voters, Scott has suffered from low public approval ratings during his first year and a half in office.
His Republican colleagues in the Legislature have tempered some of his more ambitious policies, including deeper spending and tax cuts and higher payments from public workers for their pensions.
Last November, Kasich was rebuked when Ohio voters rejected a new state law that sought to curb the power of public unions."Wisconsin recall election may offer insight on Florida Gov. Scott’s fate".
Now Walker, who drew thousands of protesters to his state capital by joining with a Republican Legislature to all but end collective bargaining for public workers, must win a recall vote to stay in office. Independent polling shows Walker with a lead over his Democratic challenger.
A Walker loss — coupled with Kasich's setback last year — could bolster Scott's critics, who contend the second-year governor, like his Midwestern political allies, is trying to turn Florida too far to the ideological right.
But if Walker wins, it could boost Scott's argument that his policies aimed at limiting government and the power of public workers are key to an economic turnaround as he seeks re-election in 2014.
"Overreaching elections law"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "All Floridians, especially Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers, should consider the sensible findings of U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who last week threw out part of an overreaching elections law. The law's intent, to prevent voter fraud, was worthy. But it was so broad and clumsily written that it appeared to be aimed more at discouraging voters than safeguarding the process. ... Scott's and the Legislature's haphazard efforts went beyond sensible safeguards and needlessly jeopardized Americans' right to vote." "Judge stops assault on democracy".
Less than half of voter registration groups have registered a single voter
"In a recent opinion piece published in the Orlando Sentinel, Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry added his voice to those championing Florida's elections reform."
Lenny Curry argued that more than 250 groups are actively registering voters from across the political spectrum, and "are registering voters right now.""PolitiFact Florida: Top Florida Republican overstates number of active voter registration groups".
Curry is basically correct about the number of groups that signed up with the state to register voters and continue to file monthly paperwork to stay active.
But he's wrong to say they're actively registering voters.
Less than half of those groups have registered a single voter since the law took effect, and six groups have registered nearly 90 percent of all voters so far.
Furthermore, the statement's intent was to illustrate the ease of complying with the law, a measure that won't be clear until election season is in full swing.
On balance, we rate this claim Half True.
Driving the false equivalence bus over the cliff
In his effort to create a hot story, Marc Caputo drives the false equivalence bus over the cliff:
Gov. Rick Scott’s administration created a mess by trying to get rid of noncitizen voters.Having sated Scott and the teabaggers with that, Caputo buries the following at the end of the story:
And President Barack Obama’s administration helped him do it.
First, Obama’s Department of Homeland Security stonewalled the state’s noncitizen voter hunt for almost nine months by refusing Florida access to an immigration database. Then, on Thursday, Obama’s Justice Department ordered the purge to halt, in part because time had run out.
None of this is to say the feds have reason to trust Florida or Scott or give them the benefit of the doubt, however."How Obama aided and abetted Scott’s voter purge mess".
Scott and his fellow Republicans tried to change elections rules with a new law, passed last year, that cracked down too hard on voter-registration rules and that removed Sunday-before-Election Day early voting when African Americans have flocked to the polls. A federal judge Thursday struck down major “onerous” parts of the law, which DOJ is fighting as well.
Also, Scott campaigned in 2010 for an Arizona-style immigration law that could require local police to start hunting illegal immigrants. Obama is challenging the law in court, and the Homeland Security Department probably isn’t too keen on giving Scott’s administration access to its immigrant database.
And overall, this former Confederate state has had a shameful history when it comes to race and voting. There’s a reason five Florida counties — Monroe, Hillsborough, Hardee, Hendry and Collier — are specifically targeted by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities.
Broward heats up
"Election season starts to heat up in Broward".
Jebbie's failed education policy never goes away
"Former Gov. Jeb Bush is six years out of office, but his influence over the state's education policies may be greater than ever."
The Foundation for Florida's Future — a million-dollar educational incubator Bush founded in 1994 that's led by his former deputy chief of staff — is widely considered the single most influential voice over the state's educational policy, far surpassing either teachers or parents.Consider just a few examples of what the Foundation has accomplished:
And the issues that it focuses on — creating more charter and virtual schools; ending tenure and instituting merit pay for schoolteachers; strengthening the state's FCAT and other standardized "accountability" tests — have surged to the top of the agenda espoused by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. Opposition from teachers' unions and some parents has been drowned out or ignored.
•One year after then-Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the bill, merit pay for teachers — including elimination of tenure for all newly hired instructors — easily passed the Legislature with the backing of Scott. It topped the Foundation's bill list."Out of office, Jeb Bush retains major influence on education policy".
•An internal copy of Scott's legislative agenda for the 2012 session said the foundation would "take the lead" on a controversial school-voucher initiative. The so-called "Education Savings Account" would have seen the state pay part of its per-pupil expenditure direct to parents to spend on anything from private-school tuition to textbooks or curriculum for a home-schooling program. Ultimately, it went nowhere.
When only 27 percent of the state's fourth-graders earned an acceptable score on FCAT writing last month, Levesque's staff helped lead strategy sessions with the Department of Education on how to respond. They even offered the department the help of a public-relations company that she worked with through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
•While public-school funding has been cut — it peaked at $7,126 per student in 2007-08 and will be at $6,375 for the next year — programs such as the corporate-income-tax scholarship program have expanded. Lawmakers this year raised the cap on the program — established while Bush was governor — from $140 million to $229 million, with the option for further expansion.
Finally, though this year's budget had no construction money for public schools, it included $55 million in construction dollars for charter schools. Bush has been a strong proponent of school choice, including charter schools.
From the guy who can't pay his mortgage "quickly and decisively"
Here's a surprise - Marc Caputo is impressed with Rubio:
Rubio, though, still adheres to the party line."Sen. Marco Rubio earning respect in Senate for foreign-policy work".
His praise of President Obama is sparse — even amid seeming foreign-policy triumphs like the overthrow and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in October. At the time, Rubio and other Republicans gave Obama relatively little credit.
“Let’s give credit where credit is due: it’s the French and the British that led on this fight,” Rubio, echoing the Republican Party line, said at the time in a video clip mocked by The Daily Show’s John Stewart, who essentially accused Rubio and others of being neither gracious nor statesman like.
Asked Stewart: “What the f--- is wrong with you people? Are you that small?”
When asked about the lampooning on the popular liberal comedy show, Rubio said he stood by his criticisms, which were aimed more at Obama for not acting more quickly and decisively.
This from the guy who can't pay his mortgage "quickly and decisively".
"After Mike Haridopolos, Adam Hasner and Jeff Atwater successively bowed out of the GOP race for U.S. Senate, ex-U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon says he is taking his turn as the 'authentic conservative.'" "Dave Weldon: I'm the 'Authentic Conservative' in U.S. Senate Race".
"Election cycle formally kicks into gear next week"
"Despite voter-approved changes to the way Florida’s legislative and congressional districts were redrawn, the makeup isn’t showing much of a shake-up as the election cycle formally kicks into gear next week." "Legislative, Congressional Qualifying Begins Monday". Related: "State's political season moves at a brisk clip".
Nancy Smith: "It's true, we're in the fourth straight year of budget shortfalls, we need money for education, for roads, for social services. But to hear some in the media and in government talk, the only way Florida is going to survive this sour economy is with a massive overhaul of its tax structure. This is broken-record talk. It's the same fiscally reckless refrain I've heard since the day I arrived in Florida 35 years ago." "Word of Appreciation for Florida's Tax System".