Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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

Scott vetos wage increases for state wildfire firefighters who qualify for Medicaid

"The governor signed the budget in secrecy, surrounded only by staff members." "Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoes $461.4 million in state budget."

"Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $461.4 million in spending Tuesday from the $78.7 billion state budget approved by the Legislature last week, erasing dozens of hometown programs and projects sought by top lawmakers."

The volume of cuts was the largest for Scott since he erased $615.3 million in spending his first year as governor.
"Scott cuts millions for local projects from budget." See also "Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoes $461.4 million in state budget."

Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, fired away at Scott, accusing him of putting his “political agenda” over the need of Floridians. "Scott and Gardiner stood on opposing sides in the debate over Medicaid expansion which undermined the budgetary process during the regular session and prompted the special legislative session that ended last week. The House stood with Scott in opposing Medicaid expansion."

“While Gov. Scott will undoubtedly spend the next several weeks traveling the state touting his record number of vetoes as a win for Florida’s families, there are many families across Florida who have seen their dreams shattered by his decisions today,” Gardiner said on Tuesday. “Families who had hoped their children born with unique abilities would have the opportunity to attend a post-secondary program, receive specialized job training and take part in the college experience, will see that dream postponed another year.

“The governor refused to support the Senate’s efforts to help the working poor in our state purchase private health insurance, yet vetoed nearly $10 million in funding for free and charitable clinics, again depriving these families of the chance for proactive primary care and pushing more and more Floridians without health insurance towards hospital emergency rooms when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable,” Gardiner added. “He also vetoed funding for primary-care residency programs and faculty to train physicians who work in rural and underserved areas.

“Nurses, pediatric physicians, and those serving the developmentally disabled in intermediate care facilities will not see the modest rate increase authorized by the Legislature,” Gardiner continued.

And this is a particularly offensive kick in the teeth:
"Members of the Florida State Fire Service, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our forests, will not see a $2,000 pay increase. With one line of the governor’s veto pen, these dedicated public servants, many of whom would qualify for Medicaid, will continue to earn approximately $24,000 per year.
Meanwhile, the
Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) Florida chapter cheered Scott . . . .
"Senate and House Leadership Split on Rick Scott's Vetoing of $461 Million in the Budget." See also "Rick Scott signs state budget, vetoes nearly $500 million."

Jeb removed Confederate flag 14 years ago

"Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush faced a similar decision as South Carolina officials — whether to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds — more than a decade ago." "14 years ago, Jeb Bush removed Confederate flag in Florida."

Castor calls for removal of Confederate statue

"In the wake of last week’s massacre at a South Carolina black church, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is calling for a statue of a Florida Confederate general to be removed from the U.S. Capitol." "Fla. Confederate general statue should be removed from U.S. Capitol, Castor says."

Another dead worker

"Worker killed while unloading vehicle from car hauler."

Former Tampa councilwoman Mulhern to challenge Jolly

"One day after a St. Petersburg councilwoman [Darden Rice] announced she might run for Congress, former Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern has announced she definitely is running for the same seat." "Former Tampa councilwoman Mulhern to run for Jolly’s Congressional seat."

Florida's giant Confederate battle flag

The Tampa Tribune editorial board argues, as it did in 2008 when it was first unfurled,

the giant Confederate battle flag flying at the junction of Interstate 4 and Interstate 75 is an affront to our sensibilities as a community. The Sons of Confederate Veterans can talk all they want about what the flag represents to them — and we don’t question their sincerity — but to most people it’s a symbol of intolerance and hate. For fresh proof, look to the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, and the killer’s embrace of the Confederate flag.
"Tribune editorial: Local Confederate flag needs to come down."

Florida to scale back panther recovery plan

"The proposal to scale back a recovery plan for the endangered iconic predator drew objections from environmental groups." "Florida wildlife managers agree to rework panther policy."

"The More Things Change"

Lloyd Brown: "Another session of the Florida Legislature is history. After decades of watching them roll by, you begin to wonder if anything ever changes." "The Florida Legislature: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same."