Monday, March 11, 2013

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

"What’s a governor with sagging poll numbers to do?"

"Gov. Rick Scott is in a tight spot with teachers."

To score points with rank-and-file educators, Scott has made $2,500 pay raises for classroom teachers a top budget priority.

But to stay in their good graces — and possibly win their votes in 2014 — Scott will need to bat down a number of education proposals moving through the Florida Legislature, including the hot-button “parent trigger” bill and a pitch to increase facilities funding for charter schools.

There’s just one problem. Opposing those bills will land Scott in the doghouse with Republicans and put him at odds with former Gov. Jeb Bush, whose nonprofit foundation has driven Florida’s education agenda for more than a decade.

What’s a governor with sagging poll numbers to do?

"Education proposals have Gov. Rick Scott stuck between a rock and Republicans".

Bush has "difficulty communicating a clear position"

William March: "In interviews last week during a book tour widely viewed as a prelude to a 2016 presidential bid, Jeb Bush got tripped up by his own party's vacillation over immigration reform."

The incident showed once again the Republican Party's problems in connecting with America's fastest-growing minority.

Bush flipped, and then flopped back again, on whether to allow a path to citizenship or just legal residence for illegal immigrants.

The difference may seem minor, but experts say it carries deep emotional significance to Hispanics, both voters and immigrants, and involves a fundamental principle of American immigration law.

Bush denies he flipped, but regardless, his difficulty communicating a clear position illustrates the party's problems.

"Jeb Bush's hedging on immigration resonates". "Marc Caputo: Political reporters act like 'crack addicts,' Jeb Bush says".

"A classic Tallahassee ambush"

Randy Schultz: "Florida’s sugar growers say they really, really, really want to save what’s left of the Everglades. They mean it right up until the time comes to really, really, really save what’s left of the Everglades."

Last week, the sugar industry staged a classic Tallahassee ambush. This year, the Legislature must write a bill to implement the Everglades restoration deal Gov. Rick Scott made last April with the Obama administration. The Senate version is what environmental groups were expecting. It is five pages long. It adheres to the goal of cleaning farm runoff enough that it no longer harms the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County and Everglades National Park. It keeps financial pressure on sugar farmers, whose runoff fouled the “River of Grass” for decades until the Legislature passed the Everglades Forever Act in 1994.
"As the session opened Tuesday, however, word of the ambush began to get out. The sugar growers were working their own bill in the House. Their bill is 16 pages long. Their bill could free them from higher costs associated with the last, toughest phase of the cleanup. Their bill could allow the sugar industry to decide in 13 years that it has cleaned up the Everglades — even if the Everglades isn’t clean enough for healthy wildlife and plant life — and that if the public wants a cleaner Everglades, the public can pay for it."
Ten years ago, sugar growers got around the Everglades deadline. This year, they want to get around paying for it. Despite their claims to the contrary, they really, really, really don’t care about saving what’s left of the Everglades.
The detail here: "Big Sugar mounts new attack on the Everglades".

"Unbalanced bill"

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors: "Thousands of homes languishing in foreclosure are a real problem for Florida. But lawmakers aiming to clear the logjam should resist legislation that would speed up the legal process at the expense of consumers." "Unbalanced foreclosure bill".

Another unwarranted gift from taxpayers to corporations

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "On top of billions of dollars in tax incentives that state and local governments offer businesses to relocate or expand, there is another unwarranted gift from taxpayers that major corporations have been enjoying: tax-exempt bonds. State and local governments are increasingly issuing these bonds on behalf of private corporations. The money has financed major building projects for oil and gas companies, a golf resort and even the construction of banks." "Crack down on corporate welfare".

Five things to look for on Monday

"Five things to look for in Monday’s Legislative session".

West ponders run for president

"Former Republican Rep. Allen West has ruled out a 2014 rematch against Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter. But West hasn’t definitively doused speculation — fueled by his nationwide conservative fan base and fanned by his own recent observation that Abraham Lincoln was also one-term congressman — that he’ll run for president in 2016. West’s continued popularity on the right is evidenced by his speaking slot Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington." "Allen West to speak Thursday at prominent conservative conference".

"Democrats cherry pick Rick Scott's jobs record"

"PolitiFact: Democrats cherry pick Rick Scott's jobs record".

Raw sewage

The Miami Herald editorial board: "No more Band-Aids. Rebuild Miami-Dade’s water and sewer treatment system to meet the myriad challenges, including the encroaching sea, of the 21st Century." "Sewage solution requires public access".

From the "values" crowd

"Negron bill would speed up appeals process for death row inmates".