"Lawmakers passed an election-year budget of $77.1 billion -- the largest state spending plan in history -- before closing out the 2014 legislative session and heading home to campaign." "Lawmakers Approve Budget and Adjourn Session". More: "Lawmakers approve record budget and adjourn" and "Lawmakers pass budget".
"The Florida Legislature closed its 2014 regular session Friday approving discounted tuition for undocumented immigrants, medical marijuana for epileptic children, tax subsidies for sports-stadium builders and an election-year package of tax cuts for Gov. Rick Scott."
But Democrats and a few Republican lawmakers said they had let down Floridians by not voting to expand Medicaid to more than 800,000 uninsured or devoting more of a $1.3 billion surplus on social services."Lawmakers wrap up 2014 session". See also "Stadium funding bill passes Legislature" and "Miami-Dade lawmakers bring home big dollars from Tallahassee", "Scott gets tax cut package on session's last day" and "Sales tax holidays, discounts cap Scott’s $500M tax cut plan".
The Tampa Trib editors: "No gambling expansion, but tax cuts and a shot at college for immigrants".
Challengers and cakewalks
Filing deadlines: "Castor, Bilirakis to face no opposition in re-election bids" and "Democrats in Congress all draw challengers".
Aaron Deslatte: "In Florida budget politics, it pays to be a night owl. Long after House and Senate budget negotiators had clinched deals on the biggest brick-and-mortar components of their $77.1 billion spending plan last week, they huddled again close to midnight to roll out $167.8 million in projects for lawmakers to take home. The vast majority of the 90 or so items would go to colleges and universities; water projects; and hospital and social-service organizations. And many are tied to the current or future leaders of the Legislature. Most had never appeared before throughout the 60-day session." "Late-night huddle generates passel of hometown projects".
FlaGOP urinates on springs bill
"It was always a long-shot. But House and Senate lawmakers trying to impose new cleanup rules for Florida's pollution-battered springs will be back at the drawing board next year." "No Duh Alert: Springs bill is dead". See also "Crisafulli says springs bill died because it wasn't the right approach".
Flabaggers in a dither over Scott flip flop
"In September 2011, Scott said in a TV interview that he 'completely' opposed in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. This week, he supported it." "Gov. Rick Scott opposed in-state tuition for DREAMers before he embraced it". See also "In-state tuition bill passed, headed to Gov. Scott's desk".
Week in Review
Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces". See also "Arrivals and Departures, May 2, 2014" and "Week in Review for May 2, 2014".
Rubio whines about the unfairness of the minimum wage
Marco "Rubio took to the national airwaves on Wednesday night to slam Obama’s handling of the economy, including his call to raise the minimum wage."
Appearing on Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox News, Rubio hit Obama for using the “same rhetoric of class warfare” which Obama and his allies “always rely on.”"Florida's Senators Divide as Obama Looks to Make Minimum-Wage Hike Campaign Issue".
“The problems is while his idea might poll well initially, it doesn’t actually help people trying to get ahead,” Rubio insisted. “If you own a business that can’t really raise prices and you have workers and now you have to pay them more, federally mandated, you’re going to have to find the money somehow.”
1 million Floridians sign up for Obamacare; FlaGOP calls for repeal
"Nearly 1 million Floridians sign up for health care plans".
Tally geniuses accuse MLB of human trafficking
"Major League Baseball, either knowingly or perhaps unknowingly, has been a part of what essentially has become a major human trafficking scheme," according to the FlaGOP. "Senate Adds Cuban Player Rules to Stadium Funding Plan". See generally "Florida lawmakers pave way for tax breaks for pro sports".
"The same lousy deal for women in the Florida House"
Nancy Smith: "It's the same lousy deal for a woman in the Florida House. "
Year after year the same. Doesn't matter their party, women representatives seated in the lower chamber invariably fight for a meaningful role, take abuse and ultimately get ignored."House Boys Club Can't Hide Katie Edwards' Light".
Jeb! throws his weight around
"Jeb Bush Endorses Thom Tillis to Take on Kay Hagan in NC Senate Contest".
No word on whether Ana Alliegro will run the campaign
"Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera says he will run for Congress — again". See also "David Rivera Seeks Political Comeback Against Joe Garcia".
Jany against Jolly
"After winning a close special election over Democrat former state CFO Alex Sink, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., won’t have a Democratic opponent in November. But Democrats at the national level are rallying behind a candidate running with no party affiliation. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced on Friday, the last day to qualify for a congressional race, that it is backing retired Army Col. Ed Jany against Jolly despite that he's running with no party affiliation." "Democrats Back Outside-the-Party Candidate to Challenge David Jolly".
Voucher games - "voucher expansion tacked on to unrelated bill"
"A surprise procedural maneuver Friday helped Florida lawmakers pass one of the most controversial bills of the session."
Both the House and Senate gave final approval to a bill that would expand the school voucher program and create new scholarships for special-needs children."The proposed policy sparked one of the most heated debates of the session."
The proposal will now head to Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to sign it.
School choice advocates celebrated bill’s passage — an unexpected end to a roller-coaster session.
“The House has made school choice a priority this year for Florida families,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who championed the bill. “With this bill, more kids will have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Joanne McCall, vice president of the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers’ union, said she was disappointed. “The members of FEA are chagrined by the continued march to expand voucher schools that are largely unregulated, don’t have to follow the state’s academic standards, don’t have to hire qualified teachers and don’t have to prove to the state that they are using public money wisely,” she said.
McCall said it was “especially galling that the voucher expansion was tacked on to an unrelated bill on the final day of the session.”
The state PTA, teachers union and school districts had come together to fight the bill, saying state dollars should stay with traditional public schools. . . . "Florida House, Senate approve school voucher program expansion". See also "School voucher bill passes", "After daylong standoff, Legislature sends Gov. Rick Scott a school-voucher expansion" and "Lawmakers OK 11th-hour expansion of school vouchers".
The policy almost didn’t make it through the process. But lawmakers were able to keep it in play through a series of procedural maneuvers.
Fabiola Santiago: "Criminal probe of DCF is in order after new revelations". Meanwhile, "Reform of Florida child-welfare system one of several bills sent to Scott on last day".