Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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.

Wingers want Scott primaried

The right wingers over at Sunshine State News see hope for their cause on Scott's, believe it or not, right flank: "Riding the tea party tide to the governor’s mansion in 2010, Rick Scott stressed private-sector job creation and getting the state government’s fiscal house in order. Now, poised to sign the largest budget in Florida’s history that provides across-the-board pay raises to teachers and state employees, Scott is leaving himself open to a primary challenge despite the unemployment rate dropping under his watch."

Even if 20 percent of Republicans abandon Scott in 2014, the governor’s re-election bid would be in serious jeopardy. Former Gov. Charlie Crist won several statewide general and primary elections as a Republican before abandoning the GOP in 2010 to run partyless for the U.S. Senate. Crist eventually joined the Democrats at the end of 2012 and is that party’s front-runner to challenge Scott in 2014. It’s certainly not inconceivable that Crist could win a quarter of the Republican vote against Scott.
"In short, Scott is vulnerable in a primary, though he would start out as the favorite, especially with a sizable war chest, his own personal fortune to tap into, and the party machinery behind him. The fact that Putnam, Bondi, Yoho, former U.S. Rep. Allen West and other Republicans have shown no interest in challenging Scott only reinforces his status as the favorite for renomination."
But Scott has left his right flank open in recent months. He is preparing to sign the largest budget in state history that gives across-the-board pay raises to public school teachers and state government workers. He released a joint statement with Florida Education Association President Andy Ford this past weekend praising the Legislature for agreeing to teacher pay raises. Conservatives might be pardoned if they raise their eyebrows over Scott teaming up with a union boss who has opposed almost every education reform ever proposed in Florida. Scott’s decision to accept federal dollars for the Medicaid expansion required by Barack Obama’s health care law also left conservatives up in arms, so much so that they started calling for Putnam, who criticized the decision, to challenge Scott.
"Rick Scott Needs to Be Wary of Republican Primary Challenge".

"Stop death penalty bill"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Stop death penalty bill, Gov. Scott". See also "Bill to speed up executions in Florida goes to governor’s desk".

"Scott: We have a deal on tax cut". See also "Future legislative fights: A tangle over taxes".

The end

We're closing in on the day when our genius political reporters proudly show us how tied in that are by breathlessly mumbling "sine die" "Tax cuts, stadium deals, insurance reform, expressway changes all come down to session's final week".

"For the sake of a million Floridians"

The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Some 3.8 million Floridians — about one in four state residents who don't qualify for Medicare — lack health insurance, the third worst rate among states."

Obamacare is still toxic among Tallahassee Republicans, and Senate GOP leaders didn't want to expand Medicaid, already a budget-buster in Florida. To their credit, they came up with a way to say yes that has gained support from senators in both parties, as well as Scott, top business groups, the health-care industry and patient advocates. . . .

But GOP leaders in the House simply said no. They crafted a weak alternative, and passed it on a largely party-line vote. It would use just state funds — some $2.3 billion over the next decade — to provide private coverage to only about 115,000 Floridians. . . .

For the sake of the million Floridians who would benefit, House leaders need to accept the Senate plan — if not by Friday, then in a special session called by Scott.

"One million reasons for lawmakers to expand care". However, "Negron: Expansion of health care assistance for poor ‘unlikely’".

Tuition increase

"Florida lawmakers agree to 3-percent tuition hike". More: "Florida's tuition increase: Will it happen?"

Never mind

"Florida's teachers are to get pay raises -- but the money won't be available until next year and the raises won't be the $2,500 across-the-board hikes Gov. Rick Scott wanted." "Florida's teachers to get pay raise - but not this year".

Budget blues

"State workers and tuition down, teachers and clerks to go in budget talks". See also "$74.5B state budget comes with something for everyone".

Calling for an education budget veto

"Florida budget has $480 million for teacher raises, but checks wouldn’t arrive until 2014".

"Open memo to Rick Scott: veto entire education budget". Meanwhile, the Tampa Trib editors think the budget is "The right equation for teachers".

"The Legislature still finds more ways to do more damage to the environment

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Growth management has been gutted, and the water management districts have been neutered. Developers have free rein, and water quality rules have been weakened. The state spends a fraction of what it once did to preserve sensitive lands, and the Department of Environmental Protection makes up new rules when private interests can't make enough money under existing rules. Yet the Florida Legislature still finds more ways to do more damage to the environment." "A bill passed by the House and awaiting Senate action in the last week of the session would make it easier to pollute waterways, destroy flood protection areas, squander the drinking water supply and extend even more leverage to developers over when and where they build.".

Citizens rates

"Florida House holds firm on not raising new Citizens insurance rates, split with Senate remains".

HD 63

"Republican Shawn Harrison Wants His Dist. 63 House Seat Back".

"Pushing Jeb Bush's agenda, and little else"

John Romano: "The petition was supposed to prove this pro-charter school legislation had grass roots support among parents, but instead it highlighted what critics have been saying all along: This law is about pushing Jeb Bush's education agenda, and little else."

The petition with 1,400 or so signatures appears to have duplicate names. And people from outside of Florida. And signatures from people who said they never signed it. It was like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz, except nobody in this tale has any interest in courage, brains or heart.
"This law is as fake as its petition".