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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - March 21, 2013

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RICK SCOTT'S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA  'IN SERIOUS TROUBLE'

Bucking Gov. Rick Scott's Plan, Senate Proposes Merit-Based Raises for Teachers [Tampa Bay Times] "Less than three weeks into the legislative session, Gov. Rick Scott's signature proposal to give across-the-board pay raises to teachers appears to be in serious trouble. On Wednesday, the Senate unveiled a proposed education budget that includes salary increases. But it rebuffed Scott's pitch to award $2,500 to each school teacher in Florida. Instead, Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, proffered his own plan to distribute the dollars based on performance...House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has also indicated that he won't support Scott's call for across-the-board pay raises...Scott blasted Weatherford for taking an 'inconsistent' position on the issue."

Senate Shorts Rick Scott’s $278 Million Ask for Economic Incentives [Orlando Sentinel] "Gov. Rick Scott’s sell-job on the economy is 'it’s working.' But apparently, Florida’s decline to 7.8 percent unemployment isn’t enough to convince lawmakers to go along with his request for more corporate tax breaks. The first salvo of economic-development appropriation figures to come out of the Senate short-changes the governor’s request — by a lot...Additionally, the Senate doesn’t give the governor any of the $173 million he’d requested to have in another fund to award to a big corporate project, if he could land one."

Senate Panel Votes for More Controls, Less Money for Gov. Scott's Business Incentives [The Florida Current] "Gov. Rick Scott would get a fraction of the money he wants to use to lure business to relocate or expand in Florida if the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development's budget recommendations prevail in overall budget talks. Initial budget numbers from the Senate show their proposal funds economic incentives at $16.2 million. Scott is asking for $278 million. The Senate also leaves other Scott priorities unfunded or funded at significantly decreased levels."

 

TAMPA BAY TIMES TO GOP LEGISLATURE: PUT FLORIDIANS BEFORE IDEOLOGY ON MEDICAID EXPANSION 

Editorial: Put Health Above Politics [Tampa Bay Times] "Three years after the Affordable Care Act became law, the nation's greatest expansion of the medical safety net since Medicare is improving private health insurance coverage and making it more accessible, strengthening Medicare and slowing the rising medical costs. Gov. Rick Scott, a fierce opponent, has finally come to terms with the law and endorsed the expansion of Medicaid to 1 million uninsured Floridians. Yet House Speaker Will Weatherford and other Republican lawmakers are resisting and letting ideology trump the best interests of the state. They pledge to come up with their own plan, but time is running short and billions of dollars are at stake...If lawmakers are serious about creating an alternative to Medicaid expansion, they should aim to cover at least as many uninsured Floridians as the Medicaid expansion in a subsidized system that would be as easy and as accessible as Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act always can be improved, but it already is producing benefits by improving coverage and reducing cost. Absent a sudden brainstorm, the Legislature should get out of the way, follow the conservative governor's lead and embrace Medicaid expansion." 

 

SENATE REPUBLICANS ACKNOWLEDGE FOLLY OF JD UNIVERSITY


JD Alexander's Florida Polytechnic No Sure Bet with Galvano [Tampa Bay Times] "A major turkey in this year’s $70 billion budget was the creation of Florida’s 12th university, with the Senate’s powerful budget chairman, JD Alexander pushing for it for reasons only he can explain. But with Alexander no longer in the Legislature, is support for Florida Polytechnic University waning? Perhaps, if you go by the $14.2 billion education budget for next year that was released Wednesday by Alexander’s old chamber, the Senate. The $22.4 million that lawmakers had set aside for the university wasn’t included in the Senate budget...The chairman of the Senate’s education committee said the reason for the omission is simple: when he asked the university how they were to spend the money, he never heard back."

 

FMR REPUBLICAN STATE SEN. DOCKERY: SAY NO TO PARENT TRIGGER

Paula Dockery: Empower Parents; Don't Manipulate Them on Schools [Florida Voices Op-Ed] "First it was called the parent trigger bill but when that became a negative connotation, it was rebranded the 'parent empowerment act.' Whew, that’s much better. Unfortunately,  it’s a misnomer: This bill does not empower parents; it empowers out-of-state corporate interests and their lobbyists to siphon Florida tax dollars away from our already underfunded public school system...Legislators should drop the whole complex, disruptive, divisive idea...If you really want to empower parents, start listening to them."

 

NEW POLL SHOWS WIDESPREAD SUPPORT UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

PPP Poll: Floridians Support Citizenship, Gay Civil Unions, Tighter Gun Control [Orlando Sentinel] "More details from the PPP Florida poll conducted last week find majorities of Floridians support tighter gun control, pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and a super majority supporting at least civil unions for gay couples."

 

GOP SEQUESTRATION STRETCHING NATIONAL GUARD THIN IN FLORIDA

Officials: State Will be Protected, Despite Potential of Nearly 1,000 Florida National Guard Furloughs [Palm Beach Post] "The Florida National Guard is assuring state residents that even if it is forced to furlough workers, as a result of the mandatory federal cutbacks known as the sequester, its members will still be on the spot to help victims of wildfires, hurricanes, or other disasters...The sequester, which mandates $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts, is a penalty Congress imposed on itself in 2011 when Democrats and Republicans could not reach a budget compromise. General Frank Grass, the top National Guard official nationwide, told Congress in February that the Guard’s ability to respond to disasters nationwide would be severely impacted by the sequestration."

  

RICK KRISEMAN GARNERS BIPARTISAN ENDORSEMENT IN MAYORS RACE

St. Petersburg Mayor's Race Draws More Endorsements [Tampa Bay Times] "St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman is collecting endorsements. The former council member and state legislator announced that a bipartisan group of politicians have lined up behind him. Democrats include former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Largo Mayor Pat Gerard. Republicans include former state Sen. Paula Dockery and Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala. 'Rick Kriseman is a leader who will ensure that all voices of St. Petersburg are heard as important decisions are made about the future growth of this special and unique Florida city,' Sink said in press release."