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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — March 12

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KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM GOP'S BUDGET: THE MUST READ ARTICLES

New state budget may come with a future cost [Herald Tribune]

"The cumulative impact of the cuts is best illustrated in one of Scott’s top accomplishment for the session, securing an additional $1 billion for public schools. The final education formula for the K-12 system provides an additional $844 million in state funding, representing a $150 per-student boost. But viewed against the $542 per student cut that Scott and lawmakers approved last year, it only partially mitigates the $1.35 billion cut in K-12 spending in the 2011-12 budget. The per-student funding remains more than $750 below the peak reached in 2007-08…'This Legislature can find the will to dip into university reserves to fund and plug gaps, but it isn’t willing to take money from the federal government or close loopholes where people are not paying their fair share,' Rich said."

Legislators hit hardest the pocketbooks of state workers, college students [Miami Herald]

"The legislative session was “a far cry from the promises heard earlier this session about how the Legislature would focus on job creation,’’ said Rep. Charles Chestnut, D-Gainesville, the ranking Democrat on the House budget committee. His biggest complaint was the impact the budget will have on families with school-age children. The cost of attending college in Florida will rise in many ways. Community college students will see tuition increase 5 percent, while university students could see increases of up to 15 percent. Those attending the University of Florida or Florida State University could see even higher tuition if the governor supports a plan to allow those schools to boost tuition to “market” rates. Student financial aid will drop by 4.4 percent, or $487 million. Bright Futures scholarships, which pay for high-performing high school students to attend state universities and colleges, will be cut by 5 percent this year and students will have two years, instead of three years, to collect on the initial scholarship after leaving high school. Universities were also allowed to charge students up to $2 per credit hour more to pay for capital improvement projects."

Lawmakers find money for pet projects despite tight budget [Sarasota Herald Tribune]

"Florida legislators have been crying poverty over the state budget, insisting they have to cut funding for social service programs, hospitals and universities.Yet, when lawmakers vote on the budget on Friday it will include millions of dollars in traditional earmarks tied to districts where the most powerful legislators reside."

More money for schools won't make up for past cuts [Orlando Sentinel] "Bottom line: Local school boards likely will need to make cuts for the coming school year."

GOP SENATE SLAMMED FOR FAILED LEADERSHIP, FAILED MAPS

Loser of the week: Don Gaetz [Tampa Bay Times] "It has been years since the Florida Senate has looked so weak and dysfunctional. Gaetz, the incoming president, deserves much of the blame for sowing mistrust and negativity by clumsily inserting himself into the failed coup against Andy Gardiner as the next senate president. Gaetz's redistricting plan failed to pass the state Supreme Court,  showing how a man who thinks he's the smartest in the room also can look like the most inept."

A session of petty power games [Tampa Tribune Editorial] "The Senate under President Mike Haridopolos was a blundering mess."

Messy Florida Senate is a case study in intrigue, chaos [Miami Herald Column] "On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court said the GOP-controlled Senate — unlike the larger, more-partisan House — failed to comply adequately with the state’s new voter-approved constitutional amendments designed to block gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts…'There is at least the appearance that the Senate thumbed its nose at the will of the people,' Justice James E.C. Perry wrote"

Back to drawing board [News-Herald editorial] "The Florida Supreme Court on Friday delivered a stinging rebuke of Sen. Don Gaetz without even mentioning the Niceville Republican by name…The court’s decision sends the Senate back to the drawing board in a special legislative session. 'The state Supreme Court on Friday rejected the Florida Senate's redistricting plan, meaning lawmakers will be returning to Tallahassee later this month to redraw some of the lines."

Florida Supreme Court rejects Senate redistricting plan [The Current] The justices…voted 5-2 to reject the Senate plan, which the majority opinion by Justice Barbara Pariente wrote was too favorable to incumbents and "rife with objective indicators of improper intent."

Leader Nan Rich on Republican's War on Women [Sun Sentinel] "'Women are becoming more and more engaged because of the attacks on women's health care and women's rights. It's like waking a sleeping giant,' said state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, the minority party leader in the Florida Senate."


RETURN OF THE MACK: Mack's past altercations again a campaign issue [AP] "A younger Connie Mack IV explained two road rage incidents, an arrest at a Jacksonville bar and a bar fight with a Major League Baseball star the same way: He was minding his own business, sober and trouble found him."

CONGRESSIONAL CORRUPTION

DCCC launches "House of Corruption Website" -- topping the list is none other than Florida's own Vern Buchanan.

And in print this Sunday: Rep. Cliff Stearns accused of trying to bribe rival [Tampa Bay Times] "It looks like Florida now has three members of Congress under investigation by federal authorities. The latest strange and unseemly tale involves U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, accused of trying to bribe a political rival to keep him from running against him in a newly drawn North Florida district."


OFA OPENS OFFICE IN DAYTONA BEACH: Obama campaign office opens in Daytona [Daytona Beach Journal] "Supporters of President Barack Obama know Florida will be hotly contested in this year's presidential election.  So they've gotten a head start.  'We're fired up and ready to go,' said Emma Brinkley, vice-chair of the Volusia County Democratic Party."

TEA PARTIER RUBIO VOTES AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF FLORIDIANS Rubio stands alone on Restore Act [Tampa Bay Times] "Rubio's characterization that it's no longer a restoration bill stands in contrast with the billions that will flow for that purpose. Without the legislation, the estimated $20 billion from BP would go to the U.S. Treasury with no direction to spend a dime of it on restoring the gulf coast."

Marco Rubio’s Puff the Magic DREAM Act [Politic365] "This week the junior senator from Florida dug his heels in again stating his opposition to the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people who complete college or military service. This comes after Marco Rubio personally met with Daniela Pelaez, a high school valedictorian from his home state who was being subjected to deportation."