Monday, June 30, 2014

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

Crist "committing too many unforced errors"

Tom Nickens: "Rick Scott has done more damage to this state than any modern governor."

The Republican has starved public schools and higher education, disregarded voting rights and privacy rights, and dismantled environmental protections. He has little feel for Florida and sides with electric utilities, property insurers, developers and the National Rifle Association over the concerns of families struggling to pay bills, afford health insurance, find quality public schools for their kids and keep their neighborhoods safe.

Yet Scott could win re-election in November.

As we head into July, the race appears essentially tied and Charlie Crist is not maximizing his greatest assets as the likeable guy who understands Floridians and their priorities. Instead, the Republican-turned-Democrat is uncharacteristically committing too many unforced errors.

"Nickens: Charlie Crist is off his game".

Cashing in on medical marijuana

"If Amendment 2 passes in November, expect medical marijuana to dominate the business of the Florida Legislature in 2015, and probably long after that, say lawyers, lobbyists and a growing number of marijuana information consultants."

Already there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of entrepreneurial ideas afloat to cash in on medical marijuana as an industry in Florida.
"Medical Marijuana: Get Ready for the Rulemaking."

"Things haven’t exactly gone Rivera’s way"

"David Rivera hasn’t impressed in his political comeback so far but he is now playing a political card that could get him back in the game by opposing Common Core."

Rivera shocked the political world at the start of May when he filed to run against Joe Garcia despite facing an ongoing FBI corruption probe. The Republican establishment, hoping to knock off Garcia who has faced scandals of his own, quickly rallied behind Carlos Curbelo as South Florida congresspersons who served with Rivera -- like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart -- fell in line against their former colleague.

Things haven’t exactly gone Rivera’s way. He has next to nothing for an online campaign presence. There were even rumors that Rivera would drop out of the congressional race and look to get back to Tallahassee by running for the Florida House. Despite the buzz, Rivera stayed in against Garcia.

But Rivera has found a campaign issue as he tries to catch up with Curbelo. Polls show Republicans overwhelmingly oppose Common Core. Rivera is starting to play up his opposition to Common Core while Curbelo backs it.

"David Rivera Could Be Saved by Opposing Common Core."

Strange Bedfellows

"Strange Bedfellows: Marco Rubio For Obama on Middle East, Alan Grayson Against"

Wingers whinge

The wingers whinge that "Obamacare health plans obtained through Florida’s federal exchange are eminently affordable -- when applying generous government subsidies." "Taxpayers Float 91 Percent of Florida Obamacare Enrollees."

Mostly True

"Mostly True." "PolitiFact Florida: Gov. Scott and cutting the cost of prepaid tuition".

First general pay raises for state employees since Crist

Bill Cotterell: "The state of Florida is handing out a little over $23 million in performance rewards for top performers in state agencies."

Although the Department of Management Services calls them "bonuses," as do most employees, that's not technically what the maximum $600 payments are. Everybody used to get bonuses, in lieu of pay raises, in some lean budget years. The current round of payments is based on productivity, the highly subjective difference between being "outstanding" or merely "commendable" day after day.

The budget Gov. Rick Scott recommended for the fiscal year concluding on Monday included the first general pay raises since Charlie Crist was well-liked by the Florida Republican Party. Last year's legislative session produced $1,400 raises for employees making less than $40,000 and $1,000 pay hikes for those making more than that.

"Merit pay for state workers maxes out at most agencies".

"A low-water mark for Scott"

"Gov. Scott signed the last bill left over from the spring legislative session on Wednesday, leaving unscathed an almost historically high amount of the legislation approved this year."

In addition to the line-item vetoes he issued to strike items from the nearly $77 billion budget, Scott vetoed precisely one bill of the 255 approved by the Legislature, or 0.4 percent of the measures that passed. That is the lowest since at least 1986, according to state records.

It's also a low-water mark for Scott, who nixed 10-12 bills in each of his first three years.

"Gov. Rick Scott vetoed few bills this year".