In the News

Florida Democratic Party News Clips – April 30, 2013


Open Memo to Rick Scott: Veto Entire Education Budget [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] “Gov. Rick Scott declared victory Monday. But he didn’t win, and neither did Florida’s teachers. Senate and House leaders agreed over the weekend to spend $480 million to raise some of the nation’s lowest teacher salaries as Scott proposed. But the pay raise is tied to pay-for-performance plans not yet in effect in most school districts. That’s not the across-the-board increase Scott has sought for months. Teachers won’t see any more money in their paychecks until the end of the next school year in June 2014, making them the only group of public employees who are not guaranteed a pay increase in the new budget…What he should do is…veto the entire education budget and tell lawmakers that he’s dead serious about an across-the-board raise for teachers. But Scott has shown no sign of taking such decisive action. In fact, he released a statement Sunday night congratulating the Legislature for budgeting a teacher pay hike, and even added laudable rhetoric from Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, a teacher union. A few hours later, FEA put out a new statement emphasizing its ‘disappointment’ with the delayed implementation. ‘House and Senate leadership have thwarted those efforts by delaying any salary increases,’ the union said.”



Gov. Scott Jumps Gun on Manufacturing Tax Break ‘Deal’ [Tampa Bay Times] “Gov. Rick Scott said Monday he had reached a late-session deal with the Legislature to secure his priority of a sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment. But the House and Senate said no such agreement had yet been reached, putting Scott in the position of prematurely declaring victory and forcing lawmakers to set the record straight. ‘We came to an agreement with the House and Senate. They’re going to eliminate that tax for a three-year period,’ Scott said Monday afternoon at a bill-signing event. ‘It’s the right thing to do. We have a significant surplus this year.’ Less than two hours later, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, directly contradicted Scott and said no such agreement had yet been struck…If the session ends Friday without the tax break becoming law, it wil be a stinging defeat for Scott, who entered the 2013 session with only two specific goals: the tax break and a $2,500 across-the-board pay raise for Florida teachers.”

Gaetz Denies Tax Exemption Deal with Scott [Orlando Sentinel] “The war between the House, Senate and governor seemed to calm over the weekend with a deal finally made regarding teacher pay, but Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t have the deal he thinks he does when it comes to his second priority — tax exemptions on sales for manufacturing equipment. Early Monday, Scott told reporters, ‘We came to an agreement with the House and the Senate that the’yre going to eliminate that tax for a three-year period.’ However, Monday evening Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, told reporters Scott had spoken too soon.”



‘Grass Roots’ Support Hurts Credibility of Parent Trigger Backers [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] “Maybe they got greedy. Maybe they were too cocky. Maybe they just didn’t think anyone was paying attention. No matter the explanation, supporters of a parent trigger law went one step too far when they produced a petition riddled with inconsistencies and doubt. The petition was supposed to prove this pro-charter school legislation had grass roots support among parents, but instead it highlighted what critics have been saying all along: This law is about pushing Jeb Bush’s education agenda, and little else. The petition with 1,400 or so signatures appears to have duplicate names. And people from outside of Florida. And signatures from people who said they never signed it. It was like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz, except nobody in this tale has any interest in courage, brains or heart.”



Editorial: Assault on Environment Unabated [Tampa Bay Times] “Growth management has been gutted, and the water management districts have been neutered. Developers have free rein, and water quality rules have been weakened. The state spends a fraction of what it once did to preserve sensitive lands, and the Department of Environmental Protection makes up new rules when private interests can’t make enough money under existing rules. Yet the Florida Legislature still finds more ways to do more damage to the environment. A bill passed by the House and awaiting Senate action in the last week of the session would make it easier to pollute waterways, destroy flood protection areas, squander the drinking water supply and extend even more leverage to developers over when and where they build. It would hurt Florida’s economy as much as its natural resources, and if the Senate votes for this mess Gov. Rick Scott should veto it.”



One Million Reasons for Lawmakers to Expand Care [Orlando Sentinel] “[…] the 2013 session could be defined by their inaction on an issue that makes the others seem almost trivial: a federal offer to provide health-care coverage to a million working poor Floridians…For Florida, Washington would put up $51 billion to the state’s $3.5 billion over the next decade. Even Gov. Rick Scott, no fan of Obamacare, decided the offer was too good to turn down…But GOP leaders in the House simply said no. They crafted a weak alternative, and passed it on a largely party-line vote. It would use just state funds — some $2.3 billion over the next decade — to provide private coverage to only about 115,000 Floridians…A University of Florida study predicted the Senate plan would create 121,000 jobs and generate $5.4 billion in state and local taxes — more than enough to offset the state’s cost. And why would Florida turn down the federal funds for health care, yet continue to accept billions of dollars from Washington for transportation, education and so many other purposes? For the sake of the million Floridians who would benefit, House leaders need to accept the Senate plan — if not by Friday, then in a special session called by Scott.”



Democrats Meet with Governor, Tell Him They’re Prepared to Protest Health Care [Miami Herald] “At an early morning meeting at the governor’s mansion, the top Democratic leaders of the Florida House urged the governor to consider vetoing the entire budget as a statement of his opposition to the legislature’s expected failure to pass plan to expand health insurance for the poor. They also urged him to call a special session to enact the law.  Reps. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale, and Mia Jones of Jacksonville told the governor at their 6:30 a.m. meeting that with four days left in the session, they are prepared to used procedural moves to demonstrate their protest as well, said Mark Hollis, the Democrat’s spokesman. ‘They feel an absence of an adequate plan to expand health care coverage is unacceptable,” he said.  The House is awaiting action by the Senate today as it takes up its plan to accept federal funds under the so-called Negron plan. ‘We want passage of the Senate bill,’ Hollis said.”



Senate Sticks with ‘NegronCare’ Medicaid Expansion Alternative, Rejects House Plan [Tampa Bay Times] “The Senate is ready to approve its alternative to Medicaid expansion, a program that qualifies for $51 billion in federal funding to insure 1 million people. Members will do so without considering a rival plan from House Republicans. The Senate’s decision to stick with its plan and not consider the House’s makes it even less likely the two sides will reach a compromise by Friday, the final day of session. The House sent its plan, HB 7169, to the Senate after approving it last week after roughly seven hours of debate over two days. Today, there was no discussion and no objections as the Senate agreed to remove the language in the House bill and replace it with the Senate’s proposal.”

Negron Says Health Care Deal ‘Unlikely’ [Orlando Sentinel] “The Florida Senate tomorrow will vote on a plan to expand health care to 1 million low income Floridians with $51 billion of federal money, but that seems to be as far as the plan will go. Senate Budget Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he will continue pushing his plan until “they turn the lights out in the Senate chamber,” but it appears that the House and Senate will be unable to resolve major differences in what type of coverage low Floridians should receive and how the state should pay for it.”



Castro to Speak in Fla [Tampa Bay Times] “Calm down. It’s not that Castro. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, is set to keynote the Florida Democratic party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner June 15 in Hollywood. He will join U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and DNC National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz and hundreds of other Democrats at the annual fundraising dinner. The son of community activists and graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law, Castro in 2001 became the youngest city councilman in San Antonio history and in 2009 was elected mayor.”

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to keynote Florida Dems’ Fundraiser [Palm Beach Post] “San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who delivered the keynote speech at last year’s Democratic National Convention, will be the keynoter for the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner on June 15 in Broward County. It’s the second year in a row the party has tapped an up-and-coming Latino mayor for the headliner role. Last year, Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa keynoted an event that drew about 1,000 people and raised an estimated $750,000. Sen. Bill Nelson and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will also be featured at this year’s $180-a-plate J-J dinner at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood.”

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