Sunday, November 15, 2015

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

Making "Florida the king of corporate welfare"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott is campaigning to make Florida the king of corporate welfare. He toured the state last week to promote his $1 billion tax cut that would primarily benefit big business."

Now, the editors write, "the governor wants to set aside $250 million in corporate giveaways in case his out-of-state photo opportunities produce the jobs he brags about. This is trickle-down economics at its worst, and Florida cannot afford to keep giving away tax dollars when it desperately needs to invest in itself after years of neglect."

By all appearances, Florida is broken. It cannot afford to build new highway lanes unless it slaps tolls on them. It is looking to allow hunting in state parks, which have been told they have to pay for themselves. Public schools struggle to pay for basic maintenance, and the University of Florida president's highest hope is for a new boiler.

The Justice Department is investigating the dangerous state prison system, and it also should investigate the shameful abuse and neglect exposed by the Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in state mental hospitals.

The overburdened courts scrimp by on less than 1 percent of the state budget, and children continue to die from neglect and abuse even after they are on the state's radar. Look in any direction, and the state's basic infrastructure is crumbling as Scott travels in his private jet to Kentucky and New York to bribe companies with taxpayer handouts to bring jobs here.

"Need more evidence about the governor's misplaced priorities?"
Environmentalists are suing the state because it has failed to invest in preserving land as voters demanded by approving Amendment 1.

Forestry firefighters travel to western states to fight blazes because they cannot make ends meet on their state salaries. The state crime lab is backed up for weeks because it can't pay its analysts enough to keep them. Aging computers are issuing thousands of drivers licenses with the wrong addresses.

And Florida spent more than $400 million this year to help hospitals cover the cost of treating the uninsured because Scott and Republican lawmakers refused to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars that would have covered many of the same people. This failure to invest has real consequences for millions of Floridians, from public school students to crime victims to the uninsured.

Yet Scott pretends the state has so few needs and so much cash it should give money away. His $1 billion tax cut primarily would benefit corporations, with more than 75 percent of it tied to eliminating the corporate income tax. . . .

Florida cannot afford this corporate giveaway. Government on the cheap is one thing. Government that starves itself to the point of systemic dysfunction and criminal neglect is another.

"Florida cannot afford Scott's corporate welfare."


"Several Republican candidates for president today accused President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, of failing in the fight against Islamic State militants as the terrorist attacks in Paris became a focal point of the nomination race."

Carly Fiorina, the former tech CEO, criticized the Obama administration for the “murder, the mayhem, the danger, the tragedy that we see unfolding in Paris, in the Middle East, around the world and too often in our own homeland.”

“[Fiorina is] angry that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton declared victory in Iraq in 2011, abandoned all of our hard-won gains for political expediency and contrary to the advice of every general that spoke with them, thus leaving vast swaths of territory and too much weaponry to be gobbled up by ISIS,” Fiorina told those at the Sunshine Summit, a political gathering of Florida Republicans.

"GOP candidates use Paris attacks to take aim at Obama, Clinton at Florida GOP summit." See also "At Florida’s GOP Summit, 2nd-String Candidates Focus on Paris Attacks and Blame Obama."

Rubio the "Rehab Addict"

"U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio railed against taxes during his career in Florida politics, but his presidential campaign has been facing accusations that he has a long history of being a spendthrift with other people's money."

The Florida Democratic Party posted a message Nov. 5 on Facebook about Rubio's financial habits as incoming speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

"Remember that time Marco Rubio spent $400K of your tax dollars remodeling offices, and building a members-only lounge? We do," the post read. It included a link to a 2010 Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald story about Rubio's use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card.

It's common for incoming speakers to spruce up the chambers as they see fit, so we wondered if Rubio really spent $400,000 for renovations and a new lounge. . . .

We rate the statement True.

"PolitiFact Florida: Florida Democrats attack Marco Rubio over spending, get it right."

"Bondi made the right call"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Attorney General Pam Bondi made the right call by deciding not to fight a revised constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana."

The Florida Supreme Court is reviewing the new and improved wording of the amendment, and there is no reason the justices should prevent it from appearing on the 2016 ballot. Bondi, who has a bad habit of misusing the courts to score political points, set her personal opinion aside this time and took the more pragmatic approach.
"Bondi makes right call on marijuana amendment."