Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Scott pay raise scheme pits one public employee group against others

"Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday proposed $2,500 across-the-board pay raises for all full-time public school teachers, a bold move that would help the pocketbooks of 168,000 educators but also shrink a small projected budget surplus and potentially pit one public employee group against others."

Scott trumpeted the pay raise plan in a visit to a middle school near Orlando, where he emphasized that the $480 million in raises is in addition to an as-yet unspecified boost in public school funding next year.

Teachers were quick to note that it was Scott who championed a 3 percent cut in teacher pay last year in the form of a pension contribution.

"Scott wants $2,500 raises for teachers".

"Scott has clashed frequently with the Florida Education Association but faces re-election next year. He’s been looking to mend fences, especially with the prospect of facing former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat and a union favorite."

Florida teachers average $46,000 in salary – about $10,000 below the national average. Scott’s plan would provide $2,500 pay raises – about 5 percent for those earning the state average.
"Scott to push for teacher raises, but after layoffs Palm Beach County educators wary". See also "No Easy 'A' for Rick Scott's Teacher Pay Hike", "Scott calls for $2,500 pay raises for teachers", "Scott to seek across-the-board teacher pay raises" and "Scott wants to give teachers $2,500 pay raise".

Meanwhile, salary increases for state workers are unlikely

"On the same day Gov. Rick Scott proposed an across-the-board $2,500 pay raise for the state’s public school classroom teachers, the outlook for a salary increase for state workers seemed dim. State Senate Appropriations Chair Joe Negron said his focus will be more narrow, aimed at inequities among particular state agencies and departments. State employees have gone six years without a general pay raise." "State worker raises plan still in limbo".

"Scott's PR fiasco"

Bill Cotterell: "Scott's PR fiasco has big bark".

"Criticism of energy conservation law"

"Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2012 called on the Legislature to review the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, which was adopted by the Legislature in 1980. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in 2012 challenged utility conservation plans approved by the Public Service Commission under the law." "House hears criticism of energy conservation law, but chairman isn't sure about legislation".

Florida has three of the 20 worst run cities in the Nation

"Don’t look in the list of top 20 cities best run -- topped by Plano, Texas, and Madison, Wis. -- for an entry from Florida. Fiscal management, including strong general obligation debt ratings from Moody’s, were key for those getting high marks from the Delaware-based fiscal news website. However, the Sunshine State does have the honor of three cities gracing the 20 worst run: Orlando, 10; Hialeah, 5; and Miami, 2." "Florida Lands Three Cities Among America's Worst Run".

Failure to develop recovery plan for Florida corals

"The National Marine Fisheries Service has failed to develop a recovery plan for two Florida corals it listed as threatened six years ago, an environmental group alleged in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday." "Environmentalists sue to prod national fisheries service to protect corals".

"Scandal upon embarrassing scandal"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Florida’s legislative leaders are signaling a surprising readiness to start cleaning up state government, a desperately needed action that follows scandal upon embarrassing scandal in state government and the stubborn refusal of elected officials to heed warnings by ethics watchdogs pointing the finger of shame at Tallahassee." "Cleaning up state government".

"Lawmakers scrutinize economic incentive programs"

"Enterprise Florida CEO Gray Swoope defended the state's economic incentive programs before skeptical panels in the House and Senate on Wednesday, and Senate President Don Gaetz hinted Gov. Rick Scott may have to give up some priorities to achieve a plan to raise teacher salaries." "Lawmakers scrutinize economic incentive programs as budget battles brew".

"No-bid Glades deal"

"The governor, as well as Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater ignored concerns of environmental groups that the conditions of the leases to A. Duda & Sons and Florida Crystals were overly generous and would limit the state's options for cleaning up the Everglades in the future." "Gov. Rick Scott, Cabinet approve no-bid Glades deal". See also "Cabinet OKs no-bid leases for Duda, Florida Crystals despite enviros’ delay request".

Clinton tries not to laff

"In what was hyped as a face-off of potential 2016 presidential rivals, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio quizzed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday on what steps she took to protect American diplomats before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others."

The five-minute exchange with Rubio was fairly low-key compared to the harsh criticism of Clinton that came from other Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Clinton quizzed by Rubio, praised by Deutch in congressional hearings".

Murphy speaks

"Freshman U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, used his first House floor speech Wednesday to decry 'short-term gimmicks' and 'playing games with the debt ceiling' before joining the majority in voting to extend the federal government’s borrowing authority for four months." "Congressman Murphy takes stage for first time but no luck on amendment".

"Earning giggles from the national punditocracy"

Billy Manes: "Last week, numbers released from Public Policy Polling showed Florida Gov. Rick Scott staring down a 57 percent disapproval rating (only 33 percent of Floridians say they like him); those numbers not coincidentally mirror surprise Democrat Charlie Crist's projected lead in a 2014 challenge (53 percent to Scott's 39 percent)."

Scott's lack of popularity shouldn't be surprising, what with his forever war on the needs of his constituents and even their right to vote in an orderly fashion, but now the certainty of where Scott stands on voting rights is earning giggles from the national punditocracy. On Jan. 17, Scott made an odd about-face on the much-maligned voter-unfriendly House Bill 1355, which he signed into law in 2011. To wit: "It was not my bill. We've got to make changes, I agree. … The legislature passed it. I didn't have anything to do with passing it," Scott said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Cue the outrage!
"Gov. Scott's about face on voting fiasco".