Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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

"Go get ’em, you crazy Martian goofball!"

Carl Hiaasen lampoons our Gub'ner's plea “to the people of New York, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and others: Move to Florida!”

What follows is a taste of Hiaasen's piece, but go read the entire thing, and subscribe to the Miami Herald (journalists and pundits may be self righteous jerks, but we need 'em).

Hiaasen begins with Scott telling Northerners to

Quit your jobs, pack up your families and get down here as fast as you can. Twenty million people aren’t enough — Florida needs more!
"So you go, Gov. Scott! Keep on spreading the word."
And don’t be spooked by the fact that we spend less per pupil on education than 47 other states, because we make up for it in so many other ways.

Low taxes, for example. The governor loves to brag about Florida’s low taxes.

You might think it’s a sore subject among Floridians, this being the time of year when many of us are staring at our property-tax bills and wondering why they keep going up, up, up.

It’s because irresponsibly jamming so many humans together requires somebody (and it’s never the developers!) to pay for the roads, bridges, sewers, fire stations, extra police officers and so on. That somebody who pays is us.

So what’s Gov. Scott really talking about when he says our state has low taxes?

"Get ready, future Floridans! Here’s the big celebrated tax break that the governor and the Legislature gave to all residents last year:
They cut the cost of our vehicle license tags by an average of $25. That’s not a typo, folks. Twenty-five whole buckeroos.

I still haven’t figured out what to do with all of it. Treasury bonds? High-cap stocks?

If a double-digit cut in auto-tag fees isn’t enough to bring caravans of U-Hauls streaming into the Sunshine State, then I don’t know what will.

"The other morning I was driving through the Everglades thinking: Isn’t this swamp water finally clean enough? Really, how much urban runoff could a few million more people possibly dump?"
We’ve probably got enough fish, wildlife and wading birds to last one more generation. What we really need are more subdivisions full of humans flushing toilets.
"Aside from water shortages, saltwater intrusion, sink holes, red tides and the ludicrous cost of windstorm insurance, one thing that might keep newcomers away is fear."
Please don’t judge by what you read in the papers or see on TV, or by the latest FBI stats, which show Florida has more violent crimes per capita than New York, Illinois, California or Pennsylvania — all the places Gov. Scott is urging people to flee.

True, all types of criminals love it down here because of the climate. But while our prisons have been wretchedly overcrowded, additional cell space has become available under Scott’s administration due to a surge of untimely (and unexplained) inmate deaths.

"So don’t be scared of Florida. Hurry on down before South Beach is underwater. We’re desperate for more people. We love sitting in traffic. We love standing in line."
Promised the governor: “Over the next four years, I will be traveling to your states personally, to recruit you here.”

Go get ’em, you crazy Martian goofball!

Hey, America — all of you c’mon down"

Hiaasen is not alone, Scott Maxwell points out that "Florida's entire economy is a Ponzi scheme."

Our main industry is growth. We need a constant influx of people to make it work. And since that's unsustainable, we lumber from boom to bust.

That leads to lots of foreclosures ... which leads to lots of cheap houses ... which (you guessed it) is yet another attraction for folks to move here.

New Yorkers get great deals on houses that former New Yorkers got evicted from.

Our low-level costs also attract some low-level thinkers. (Hence our nickname: Flori-duh.)

"Flori-duh? Sure. But people still flock here, for better or worse."

Scott "bashed Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, who won't be sworn in till Jan. 20, saying his 'proposed tax increases and mandates on businesses will no doubt be heavy blows to Pennsylvania families.' Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said Scott 'seems to have a very superficial understanding of what's going on in our state.'" "Gov. Scott won't find brotherly love in Philly jobs raid."

"Puppet-masters in the Chamber"

Scott Maxwell: "For more than a year, gobs of people have urged the Florida Legislature to accept expanded Medicaid money from the feds. . . . Legislators may finally do the right thing because their puppet-masters in the Florida Chamber of Commerce seem to be giving them new marching orders. " "Florida's Medicaid expansion may happen ... because chamber wants it."

Kottkamp lobbying

"Jeff Kottkamp, former Republican lieutenant governor of Florida, completed paperwork Monday to begin lobbying on behalf of a new John Morgan-backed medical marijuana bill. It is expected to be a legislative alternative to a 2016 ballot amendment." "Jeff Kottkamp, Former LG, Will Lobby for John Morgan's Medical Marijuana Legislation."

Background: "Florida may expand medical-marijuana law."

Pension haters of the state unite

The Tampa Trib editors join the TaxWatch pension haters in reminding "lawmakers that although nearly all private-sector companies offer only defined contribution plans to employees, the state offers most workers in the Florida Retirement System a defined benefit, which commits it to promised benefits, regardless of its finances. Enrolling new workers in a private sector-like plan would protect workers who have signed up for the defined benefit plan but over time free the state from a pension commitment that has strangled other governments." "Flush with cash, state should invest wisely."

"Atwater Makes Sense"

"Jeff Atwater passed on running for the U.S. Senate in 2012, but he could have opportunities down the road for a Senate bid of his own." "Jeff Atwater Makes Sense for Future GOP Senate Candidate."

Jeb! Live from Greenwich

Kevin Derby: "As he publicly contemplates entering the 2016 presidential race, former Gov. Jeb Bush is wrapping up his vision to renew the American dream and offer more Americans greater opportunity."

But the Democratic National Committee (DNC) came out swinging at Bush, looking to paint the son of one president and the brother of another as incapable of understanding the American dream. Pointing toward Bush’s appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News this week and a fundraiser in Greenwich, Conn., a posh suburb of New York City which was the home base of his grandfather U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush, R-Conn., back in the 1950s, Ian Sams, a spokesman for the DNC, fired away at the former Florida governor.

“Jeb Bush isn’t a different type of Republican,” Sams said on Wednesday. “We can see that in his actions. He’s opened his campaign by cozying up to the same special interest, corporate, Fox News donor set that today’s GOP fights tooth and nail to protect, at the expense of working Americans. We’ve seen this from a Bush presidency before, and the last time we did, it wrecked our economy. We’re just surprised the closest he’s come to talking with everyday voters thus far has been a Facebook post.”

"Jeb Bush Talks Up American Dream Even as DNC Paints Him as Defender of Special Interests."

"Among the worst in the country"

"Though jobs are growing in the one-time manufacturing center of Hialeah, the city still ranked among the worst in the country as a place to find work." "Hialeah one of toughest places in U.S. to find a job."

FlaBaggers on fire

"Florida congressmen who opposed keeping U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in power came out swinging against the speaker in recent days, showing the fight is far from over." "Florida Conservatives Not Backing Down Against John Boehner."

Surely its the Union's fault

"Lake County school officials on Monday defended their decision not to hire more teachers after some class sizes burst over the legal limit even though it could result in a $1.2 million fine." "Lake superintendent responds to class-size debacle, defends district."

Bilirakis' priorities

"Gus Bilirakis Wants to Close Tax Loophole for Illegal Immigrants."