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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — February 25, 2013

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TOP OF THE AGENDA: REPUBLICANS FAILURE TO ACT ON SEQUESTER WILL HURT FLORIDA FAMILIES

How Would the Sequester Impact Florida? [Bay News 9] “The state stands to lose more than $54 million in funding for primary and secondary education and more than $30 million in funds to education for children with disabilities. Head Start and Early Start services would be eliminated for around 2,700 children…The reports stated around 31,000 Department of Defense employees in Florida would be furloughed, including some at Macdill Air Force base. Millions of funding cuts would hit Navy, Army and Air Force operations throughout the state.”

Republicans Losing Message War on Sequester [Political Wire] "The Republicans' message on the sequester couldn't be clearer: They don't have a unified one…There seem to be three distinct camps: Most congressional Republicans appear willing to let the sequester happen since they can't replace it in time. Others want the cuts to be even deeper. And still others wish that House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama would just get in the same room and negotiate a deal, even if it includes the tax hikes that most Republicans abhor."

The FL #s In the White House's State-by-state Sequester-cut Guide [Miami Herald] "The White House this evening started a well-planned offensive to let residents in every state know what the automatic budget cuts scheduled for March 1 could mean to them and their community. In Florida, 31,000 civilian contractors with the defense department face furloughs and reduced pay; 7,450 children could go without some vaccines; thousands will get smaller unemployment checks and schools could face a small reduction, according to the White House."

White House On 'sequester': Florida Loses At Least $276M In Year One [Orlando Sentinel] 

White House: Layoffs, Cutbacks Loom For Florida If Feds Can’t Make Budget Deal [Palm Beach Post] 

White House warns about budget cuts in Florida [Sun Sentinel] 

 

MEDICAID EXPANSION NOW ON GOP LEGISLATURE: WILL THEY DO THE RIGHT THING?

Will House Go Along on Medicaid? [WUSF] "Even before Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday afternoon that he favors accepting federal funds for the expansion for three years, House Speaker Will Weatherford issued a press release objecting to it…The loudest complainant was Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is often mentioned as a future Republican candidate for governor."

Florida's Legislature, Not Its Governor, Will Determine Medicaid Expansion's Fate [Forbes] "There’s been a lot of coverage of the recent spate of Republican governors who have endorsed Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid in their states. . .  And in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott (R.) made national news last week by reversing his opposition to the expansion, the Republican-controlled legislature remains very skeptical.” 

Will Rick Scott Have the Juice to Pass his Agenda Through GOP-led Legislature? [Florida Times Union] "With approval ratings in the mid-30s, Scott needs to shepherd the issues that will frame his re-election bid through the often reluctant Legislature…An inherent part of this year’s session will be how the GOP-dominated Legislature balances its priorities versus making sure a Republican governor gets enough legislative victories to build a strong campaign."

Why Tea Party Gov. Scott Flip-Flopped on Obamacare [Mother Jones] "Florida Gov. Rick Scott was elected in 2010 almost entirely thanks to his activism opposing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Scott spent $20 million of his own considerable fortune attacking the law, and the Republican backed the state's lawsuit challenging its constitutionality all the way to the Supreme Court. Scott had declared last summer that Florida would implement the law basically over his dead body, including the optional part that would provide federal funding to expand Medicaid to people making up to 138 percent of the poverty line."

Florida Governor's Embrace of Medicaid Money Undercuts GOP Attacks on 'Obamacare' [National Journal] "Bashing 'Obamacare' just isn’t what it used to be. Just over two years ago, the rallying cry against President Obama’s health care overhaul unified Republicans and hoisted the party to historic electoral gains in state capitals and in Washington. But in the latest sign the script has flipped, Florida Gov. Rick Scott — who rode that tea-party-fueled crusade to victory in 2010 — this week became the seventh Republican governor to agree to the new law’s Medicaid expansion."

 

FL GOP DOUBLE DOWN ON FAILED EDUCATION PLANS

'Enormous Investment': Board to Seek Additional Funds for Fla. Polytechnic Construction [Lakeland Ledger] "If you want to know exactly why Florida Polytechnic University leaders intend to ask for another $25 million to get the new school up and running, pull up a chair and get comfortable. Although interest is high in the financial aspects of the new university, there is no short answer. "

Florida Needs No Advice From Jeb Bush On Education Policy [Palm Beach Post Editorial] "Former Gov. Jeb Bush has an undeserved reputation as an education reformer. Florida’s recent education progress has come not from implementing Mr. Bush’s policies but from cleaning up after them. Mr. Bush has been visiting legislators in Tallahassee to talk about education policy. Get out the mops and buckets. Taxpayers also should reach for their wallets, since the former governor’s new big ideas involve transferring more public dollars to the for-profit companies behind him. . . . Now Mr. Bush heads several foundations pushing for a rapid expansion of charter schools and virtual schools. His Foundation for Excellence in Education accepts donations from private companies that would profit from lax new laws that Florida and other states are rushing to enact. The sort of careless 'reform' Jeb Bush advocates will end up with taxpayers fleeced and students and parents cheated. He has a reputation for reform. He has a record of making messes."

Rubio's Stale School Plan [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] "With his Cuban-American heritage and youthful visage Rubio was the natural choice to deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech. But his performance illustrates a point that Republicans don't seem to get: A new face doesn't improve bankrupt ideas. One of those ideas is the undermining of public schools. Under the guise of helping lower-income parents, Rubio is offering the Educational Opportunities Act to move students from public to private schools, most of which are church-affiliated, at taxpayer expense. To get around church-state separation problems his plan would give taxpayers dollar-for-dollar federal tax credits for 'donating' money to designated scholarship funds that would pay for private school education. Some would call that money laundering. This is a tea partier's dream come true. It starves the federal treasury of tax revenue, funnels children into religious indoctrination, erodes support for public schools by having parents abandon them and, perhaps sweetest of all, harms all those progressives who have chosen to be public school teachers as well as their unions."

 

…AND SCOTT’S STILL NOT THINKING ABOUT THE BOTTOM LINE FOR FLORIDIANS

When It Comes To Citizens, Rick Scott Is In A Political Pickle [Tampa Bay Times] "He says he is protective of Florida families, but Gov. Rick Scott can't get a grip on one of the big pocketbook issues for many of them: the rising cost of homeowners' insurance. Scott ordered internal investigations of spending practices at the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance, Florida's largest insurer, and when he was blindsided by big raises to top executives, he told them to return the money. But the price of insurance is a different story. When it comes to the cost of living, Scott talks about taxes and tuition, and insurance is rarely part of the conversation."

Agencies See Gov. Scott Falling Short On Transportation [Tampa Tribune] "Gov. Rick Scott's recommendation last week to raise state transportation funding by 11 percent raised some eyebrows, but perhaps a more notable figure is one that isn't found anywhere in his proposed budget. That number is $75 billion, the amount Florida falls short in fully funding its transportation needs, according to a recent report by the Florida Metropolitan Planning Organization Advisory Council. The amount dwarfs the $9.1 billion Scott is proposing to spend on transportation in the next fiscal year."

 

FOX IN THE HEN HOUSE? FL GOP UNSURE HOW TO FIX THE ELECTIONS MESS THEY MADE

MUST READ: How To Cure Florida’s Electoral Dysfunction [Miami Herald Op Ed by  DESILINE VICTOR AND GIHAN PERERA] "For hundreds of thousands of citizens throughout Florida, exercising their right to vote became an endurance test. At some polling places, people faced lines as long as eight hours. A recent study found that at least 200,000 Florida voters gave up in frustration over the long lines, and left without voting. This is a crime. The problems with Florida elections did not happen by accident. We both know Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature enacted new laws that made it harder to vote."

Fla. Lawmakers Seek Elections, Ethics Changes [AP] "President Barack Obama used a 102-year-old Florida woman who waited for hours to cast a ballot as an example of voting problems that need fixing, Jon Stewart used a profanity to describe Florida's elections process and Jay Leno suggested Floridians shouldn't even be allowed to vote on American Idol. Twelve years after Florida became the poster child for bad elections during the 2000 presidential recount, the state was once again held up as an example of how not to run an election. Now, lawmakers are once again trying to figure out how to eliminate long lines at polling places and count votes quickly and accurately."