Thursday, December 13, 2012

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider becoming a site fan on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Indiana Reject selected as Florida's new education commissioner

The Tampa Bay Times editors correctly call the selection as Florida's new education commissioner a man who just last month was run out of his job running Indiana schools "a predictable choice that values conservative ideology over proven performance". "Education chief must listen, learn".

The "divisive" Bennett, "a champion of the testing mania, unchecked expansion of charter schools and voucher programs" is not without his supporters on the fringe. Bennett was actually awarded

the "America's Education Reform Idol" award for his state in 2011.
"Bennett selected as Florida education commissioner". See also "Florida lands a 'rock star'" ("an ally of former Gov. Jeb Bush") and "Board names Indiana official new education commissioner for Florida; parents, teachers groups blast pick".

Yee Haw!

"Concealed weapon permits to hit 1 million next week in Florida".

"Scott hangs onto notion that he has cards to play"

"With just days before he must declare whether Florida will open its own insurance marketplace or leave it to the federal government, Gov. Rick Scott is asking to meet with President Barack Obama on health care."

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to governors this week, urging states to embrace a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. Sebelius refused the governors’ request to further extend the deadline for states to commit to opening an online shop where small businesses and individuals can buy insurance.

There’s virtually no chance Florida could meet Friday’s deadline, which was pushed back from November. States must declare not only an intention to open an insurance exchange, but submit a blueprint for doing so. Yet Scott is still not saying explicitly that Florida will opt out. Instead, Scott seems to be hanging onto the notion that he has some cards to play.

"Scott wants to meet with Obama over health care law".

Leading nation in foreclosures

"Brevard leads nation in foreclosures". See also "Florida Realtors discuss 2013 housing market with national economists".

"Talk is cheap"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Florida's two new legislative leaders apparently weren't worried about optics when they handed out hefty raises, and now 62 legislative staffers earn $100,000 or more. Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford talk a lot about being fiscally conservative Republicans, and they have been part of the legislative leadership that has frozen salaries and cut jobs for rank-and-file state workers for five years. But when it comes to rewarding those who work closest to them, their actions look far different."

As the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reported Wednesday, Gaetz and Weatherford, combined, have decided to dole out raises to 17 staffers that totaled more than $250,000. . . .

Gaetz and Weatherford defended their decisions as necessary to keep top talent on board. And some of the highest-paid employees are dedicated and talented individuals who earn their pay. But the irony is that top staffers used to leave state government to cash in; now even those early in their careers have learned if they stick around and play their cards right, they can earn a handsome sum. That's a far cry from just a decade ago when the communications director for then-Senate President Jim King, also a Republican, started at a mere $45,000.

Republican leaders have talked a lot in recent years about the state tightening its belt. That should apply to everyone. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder.

"Big raises flow to a favored few".

Except for the "forever" part

"At Florida Forever's peak, $300 million a year in state funding gushed into the program. But lawmakers turned off the tap a couple of years ago after doc-stamp tax revenues tanked along with the real-estate market. Earlier this year, lawmakers turned the tap back on a trickle." "What we think: Revive land buying for environment, economy".

"Election chiefs confer on solving problems that dog Florida"

"State and Palm Beach County election chiefs confer on solving problems that dog Florida". See also "Broward County election officials want flexibility on early voting".

Crist milks it

"Crist will make party change official today".