Rick Scott Archives - Page 6 of 172 - SaintPetersBlog

Florida Democrats accuses Rick Scott of ‘backroom politics at its worst’ over special session

Florida Democrats are hitting Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leadership over a budget deal announced Friday.

In a statement, Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said the budget deal fails the state’s working families, while funneling money to Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

“Not only does this budget deal funnel millions to private for-profit charter schools, remove oversight from local school boards, and short-change Florida’s children–it was negotiated in secret, and the end result will bring millions to Scott and Corcoran’s corporate benefactors,” she said in a statement. “Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran represent dirty, backroom politics at its worst, and this secret budget fails Florida’s working families.”

Scott, Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron announced Friday morning lawmakers will convene in a special session from June 7 to June 9 to tackle several issues relating to the budget.

The announcement coincided with news that Scott signed the budget 2017-18 budget, vetoing $410 million in legislative projects. The Naples Republican also vetoed the Florida Educational Finance Program, which funds K-12 public education, and a bill that, among other things, slashed funding for Visit Florida Funding by 60 percent. A full list of vetoes is expected to be released later today, according to the Governor’s Office.

The governor is calling on the Legislature to provide an additional $215 million to K-12 public education, which would increase per student funding by $100; establish the Florida Job Growth Fund to promote public infrastructure and individual job training and fund it at $85 million, the same amount he requested for incentive programs for Enterprise Florida; and pass legislation that sets aside $76 million for Visit Florida and includes comprehensive transparency and accountability measures for the organization.

In return for reaching a compromise on his top priorities, the governor is expected to sign a wide-sweeping education bill (HB 7069), a top priority for Corcoran, and a higher education bill (SB 374), a top priority for Negron.

In a separate statement, House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa called the Special Session “a farce being inflicted upon the people of Florida.”

“To pretend this newest backroom deal will help public education in our state is laughable,” she said. “That politicians in positions of leadership are willing to sell out our public schools by approving the creation of a $140 million slush fund for private charter school operators in exchange for an $85 million slush fund for corporate welfare is the epitome of everything that people despise about politics.

“Welcome to the swamp.”

Special session called to tackle economic programs, public education funding

Florida lawmakers will head back to Tallahassee for a special session next week to address economic programs and public education funding.

Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Senate President Joe Negron announced Friday morning lawmakers will convene in a special session from June 7 to June 9 to tackle several issues relating to the budget.

The announcement coincided with news that Scott signed the budget 2017-18 budget, vetoing $410 million in legislative projects. The Naples Republican also vetoed the Florida Educational Finance Program, which funds K-12 public education, and a bill (HB 5501) that, among other things, slashed funding for Visit Florida Funding by 60 percent. A full list of vetoes is expected to be released later today, according to the Governor’s Office.

The governor is calling on the Legislature to provide an additional $215 million to K-12 public education, which would increase per student funding by $100; establish the Florida Job Growth Fund to promote public infrastructure and individual job training and fund it at $85 million, the same amount he requested for incentive programs for Enterprise Florida; and pass legislation that sets aside $76 million for Visit Florida and includes comprehensive transparency and accountability measures for the organization.

In a memo to House members Friday, Corcoran said the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund would be housed within the Department of Economic Opportunity and would provide “$85 million in new resources to be used for public infrastructure and workforce training.”

The House railed against incentive programs this year, even voting overwhelming to abolish Enterprise Florida, the state’s private-public economic development program. However, Corcoran told members the new program would not be used for the exclusive benefit of one company, and could become “a model for the nation.”

“The bill will be a flexible fund that the Governor can use to help create the infrastructure and job skills necessary to support economic diversification for targeted industries or for specific regions of the state,” he wrote. “The bill will require that funds be used for broad public value and not for the exclusive benefit for any one company. We believe that this new tool can become a model for the nation.”

In his memo to members, Corcoran said legislation filed during the special session, which will be carried by Rep. Paul Renner, will including $76 million in funding, but maintain the “kind of strong accountability and transparency language passed” during the 2017 regular Session.

The Senate did not support the House position on cuts to Enterprise Florida or Visit Florida, and Negron said Friday he was pleased the House was moving to the Senate position on those issues. The Senate also wanted a higher per-pupil funding model.

“As we prepare to return to Tallahassee, it appears that our colleagues in the House have expressed a willingness to move toward the Senate position in several key areas, including a significant increase in per student funding for our K-12 public schools, as well as elevating the state investment in tourism marketing and economic development efforts,” said Negron in a memo to members. “I look forward to advocating for Senators’ budget priorities during the upcoming Special Session.

In return for reaching a compromise on his top priorities, the governor is expected to sign a wide-sweeping education bill (HB 7069), a top priority for Corcoran, and a higher education bill (SB 374), a top priority for Negron. Both bills have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, in part over concerns they were negotiated largely behind closed doors.

When asked whether he planned to sign the education bill during a press conference in Miami on Friday, Scott said he was reviewing it.

The call, signed by Scott and filed with the Department of State at 9:30 a.m., does not include medical marijuana. However, Corcoran told members in a memo Friday morning the “House has communicated to … the Senate that this is an issue we believe must be addressed and that we are prepared to expand the call to address the implementation of the constitutional amendment approved by voters of the constitutional amendment approved by the voters during the 2016 election.”

New hurricane advisories will give deadlines for storm prep

Some coastal residents always put off emergency preparations until storm clouds loom on the horizon. The National Hurricane Center is going to try giving those people a deadline this year, issuing experimental advisories showing when tropical-storm force winds may hit particular communities to help them understand when it’s too late to put up storm shutters or evacuate.

The forecasters’ advisories will be fueled by more data than ever, thanks to new weather satellites and an expanded network of underwater gliders.

Dan Brown with the U.S. National Hurricane Center discusses many of the improvements that have been made to hurricane forecasting.

On the official start of hurricane season Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at the Miami center to encourage residents to prepare and heed warnings.

NEW ADVISORY

To help people understand when storm preparations should be completed, the hurricane center will experiment with advisories showing the times when sustained tropical-storm-force winds are estimated to hit land. If a tropical disturbance nears shore, forecasters also could post advisories or warnings before it develops into a tropical depression or named storm.

Florida’s emergency management director, Bryan Koon, said the new advisories could help validate evacuation orders for people who complain about “hype” around approaching storms.

In this 2011 file photo, Home Depot load up emergency generators for Virginia Beach residents in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

“We can say, ‘Listen, this is when things are going to get bad in your area,’” Koon said. “We can also use that to say, ’A few hours ahead of that, stores are going to close, roads are going to get jam-packed with people, we might have to shut down power substations.”

Storm surge watches and warnings will be issued this year when U.S. coastlines are at risk for life-threatening flooding.

___

SHRINKING CONE

The “uncertainty cone” showing a storm’s projected path shrinks again this year, with continued improvements in track forecasts. It’s still the best-known advisory released by the hurricane center, but forecasters continue to emphasize individual hazards away from the center of a storm.

On his last day as hurricane center director before returning to The Weather Channel, Rick Knabb said better data and better computer models help create a narrower cone. But that can give a false sense of security to areas outside the cone.

On his last day as hurricane center director before returning to The Weather Channel, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb said better data and better computer models help create in narrower cone.

“Hurricane watches and warnings can extend well outside the cone. In fact, the hurricane itself can be much larger than the width of the cone,” Knabb said. “So clearly a hurricane is not just a point on the map.”

Forecasters will add an outline of a storm’s wind field to the graphic to help people see hurricane impacts beyond the cone, Knabb said.

___

INTENSITY FORECASTS

Predicting the intensity of a storm remains a challenge. Apart from improving public communications about storm hazards, the hurricane center also has been working to improve its forecasts predicting when and how much a storm will strengthen.

In this 2011 file photo, people talk at a sandbagged entrance of the Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant, which is situated next to the Schuylkill river, as the establishment prepares for Hurricane Irene in Philadelphia.

It’s difficult to measure what’s happening around a hurricane’s eye — where the strongest winds swirl — or how it interacts with the ocean and the atmosphere, and that affects the accuracy of storm intensity forecasts, said Dan Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the hurricane center in Miami.

“It’s a combination of everything, but oftentimes, it’s understanding what the structure of the storm is and getting that right when the computer models are first run,” Brown said.

___

FORECASTING TECHNOLOGY

More and better data will be streaming into those models this year, which forecasters hope will help improve their predictions for a hurricane’s intensity.

NASA launched eight mini-satellites in December to measure surface winds deep in the hearts of hurricanes. Unlike other weather satellites, the $157 million Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System can give scientists a clear look into a hurricane’s eye even through walls of clouds and rain.

Forecasters said the $1 billion GOES-16 weather satellite, launched in November, is as significant an upgrade as switching to high-definition television, with more detailed images and more channels looking at storms.

NOAA again will launch four underwater sea gliders from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to collect ocean data, and this summer the agency will expand its data pool by collaborating with universities and research institutions.

To keep up with higher resolution forecast models, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has upgraded the Doppler radar on its hurricane hunter aircraft to give scientists a more detailed look at hurricane winds.

NOAA again will launch four underwater gliders from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to collect ocean data, and this summer the agency will expand its data pool by collaborating with universities and research institutions in the U.S. and Bermuda that have up to 20 their own gliders in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

Gustavo Goni, director of the physical oceanography division at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, said glider data has helped improve the models’ understanding of the ocean. He added that “we want to put all these efforts together to make a better analysis.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: Sunshine law should remind leaders that people of Florida are citizens, not serfs

The irony of the state Constitutional Revision Commission trying to avoid sunshine laws is almost too rich to describe.

If allowed to happen, that would be a dark day indeed.

But that’s exactly what CRC Chair Carlos Beruff is proposing, even as the commission continues a series of town hall meetings designed to take public input into the process.

Beruff, who ran a bare-knuckles campaign for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. Senate race but ultimately crashed when Marco Rubio decided to get back in the game, proposes to allow two or more members to discuss the commission’s official business in private.

Not only that, Beruff — appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to chair the committee — is pushing for authority to be the sole decision-maker about what measures the 37-member board puts on the ballot in 2018.

That would gut a requirement that a supermajority of 22 members approves all ballot initiatives.

The commission has been frosty to his proposals.

“What is called for is a presider — not a decider,” Commission member and former Senate President Don Gaetz told the Miami Herald.

So, let’s review: Florida has been noted for its landmark Sunshine Law that requires all government and related meetings to be open and with adequate advance public notice. The head of the Constitutional Revision Commission wants to ignore a bedrock principle of Florida law.

Good start, eh?

It’s worth noting that Beruff was a controversial choice to lead the commission.

A little over a year ago, he drew wide criticism last year for remarks at St. John’s County Republican Executive Committee, where he said of President Barack Obama: “Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president — because he’s an animal, OK? … has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretaries of defenses.”

That doesn’t exactly have the ring of someone interested in building consensus.

Beruff’s current ploy is just continuing an assault on openness that has been taking place for years. There are more than 1,000 exemptions to the law as legislators find increasingly inventive ways to avoid the annoying public scrutiny.

Three members of the South Florida Water Management District were criticized for discussing official business in Facebook chats. Barbara Petersen, head of the nonprofit First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee, told TCPalm.com “this definitely appears to be a violation.”

Yes, it’s much easier to govern in secret, but that’s not how we do it here. You can’t just work things out in private and then inform the masses (maybe) what you have planned for them before you break for lunch. The people of Florida are citizens, not serfs. They have a right to know how decisions affecting their lives are being made. They have a right for input.

What part of that escapes Carlos Beruff?

Then again, why should anyone be surprised? He doesn’t seem like someone much interested in what other people think.

Associated Industries releases 2017 Voting Record report

The voting record report is out.

Associated Industries of Florida released its 2017 Voting Record report. Published for more than four decades, the annual report is considered one of the definitive legislative scorecards for the business community. This year, the organization calculated more than 208,966 votes on 1,955 bills with 848 legislators.

“This session, AIF faced a variety of tough issues on behalf of Florida’s business community, including opposing any measure that would have made it more expensive for businesses to operate, such as prejudgment interest and fighting to preserve the insurance premium tax salary credit,” said Tom Feeney, the president and CEO of AIF, in a statement. “Additionally, AIF was a proud advocate for Florida’s business community, actively engaging on measures, such as reducing the business rent tax, addressing the workers’ compensation system, making 5G wireless technology a reality and protecting productive private agricultural land.”

Feeney said while AIF accomplished many of its priorities during the 2017 Legislative Session, “this year’s Voting Records vary from what (AIF has) seen in years’ past.”

The report shows the lowest percentages since 2002 for both the Senate and House, with the Senate voting in favor of the business community 74 percent of the time. The House, according to the report, voted in favor of the business community 79 percent of the time.

“Although Florida’s business community had to fight back initiatives that would have negative impacted our state’s small and large businesses, we did make some headway this session; and, we thank Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature for continuing to give our state the opportunity to have a vibrant, competitive business environment,” said Brewster Bevis, the senior vice president of state and federal affairs at AIF, in a statement.

Rick Scott signs DOT reform bill

Among the five bills signed Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott is HB 865, an omnibus measure that reforms several areas in the Florida Department of Transportation.

LobbyTools reports that the bill, in part, mandates the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority to get DOT approval on contracts before receiving department money.

The department must also submit a report examining district boundaries and headquarters, as well as changes allowable weight for vehicles fueled by natural gas on interstate highways.

Senate sends $82.4 billion budget to Rick Scott

The budget is on the governor’s desk.

Senate President Joe Negron sent 13 bills, including the 2017-18 spending plan, to Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday. Scott now has until June 15 to act on the $82.4 billion spending plan, but exactly how he plans to proceed remains unclear.

The Naples Republican has been tight-lipped on his plans for the budget, telling reporters in Fort Myers on Tuesday he can veto the entire budget, a portion of the budget, or veto a line in the budget.

“I’m going to do what I do every year,” he said. “I’ll look through the budget and make sure the dollars are allocated in a manner that I think is good for the state.”

Scott has spent the past few weeks traveling the state criticizing lawmakers for their decision to cut funding for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. The fiscal 2017-18 budget includes $25 million in it for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency. The budget includes some funding for Enterprise Florida operations, but does not include the money Scott requested for business development incentives

The governor did not receive as large of a tax cut he had requested; and state lawmakers didn’t include money in the budget for the Herbert Hoover Dike, a late-in-the-game request made by Scott.

Scott has criticized lawmakers for the lack of transparency, saying Floridians didn’t know what was in the budget until the last minute.

“This is my seventh budget and every year, I have a team that works with me,” he said Tuesday. “But what’s different or frustrating is we knew nothing about the budget until right at the end, because it was done all behind closed doors.”

Scott vetoed more than $256.1 million in spending lawmakers presented him with the 2016-17 budget last year. According to data compiled by LobbyTools, the governor has vetoed more than $1.9 billion during his first six years in office.

There are currently 108 bills on the governor’s desk. He must act on more than a dozen of those bills by the end of the day today.

Port Tampa Bay slated for $9M in federal budget

Port Tampa Bay is one of three Florida seaports that could advance harbor deepening projects in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spending plan announced last week.

Port Tampa Bay would get $9 million in congressionally-approved discretionary funds, as well as $17.5 million to JAXPORT and $2.8 million for Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

“Since 2011, we have invested over $1 billion in state funding in our 15 world-class seaports and we appreciate the Trump Administration understanding the important role our ports have in supporting our economy and creating jobs,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement Wednesday.

The Tampa Bay money would go to deepen the Big Bend Channel to 43 feet from its current 34 feet, a project that could cost as much is $55 million. The JAXPORT project would deepen Jacksonville Harbor from 40 to 47 feet, allowing it to handle larger ships.

“This funding is a great start to the needed dredging at JaxPort, which will allow economic growth and trade to prosper in Northeast Florida,” U.S. Rep. John Rutherford said in a statement.

Despite the spending, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson warned about further transportation cuts in Donald Trump’s proposed budget, announced this week.

Trump’s budget, which still needs Congressional approval, ends Amtrak passenger train service in Florida.

Nelson said in a statement: “Eliminating Amtrak service in Florida not only affects the nearly 1 million Floridians who ride the train each year, it would have a real impact on our tourism-driven economy by making it harder for folks to come visit our state.”

 

Jose Felix Diaz, six others qualify to run in SD 40 special election

The race is set.

State records show seven candidates — three Republicans, three Democrats and one no party affiliation candidate — have qualified to run in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40.

The one-day qualifying period was set to end at noon Wednesday for the special election. State records show Republicans Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Lorenzo Palomares; and Democrats Ana Rivas Logan, Steve Smith, and Annette Taddeo qualified as of noon Wednesday. Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth, a no party affiliation candidate, has also qualified to run.

Artiles resigned in April after he made national news after used a racial slur and vulgar language in a conversation with two African-American colleagues.

Diaz, who currently serves as the chairman of the Regulatory Affairs Committee, was first elected to the Florida House in 2010. A well-liked and respected member of the House, Diaz was the chamber’s point man on gambling legislation. He resigned his seat, effective Sept. 26, to run for the Senate seat.

Diaz de la Portilla served in the Florida House from 1994 until 2000, before transitioning to the Florida Senate. He served there from 2000 until 2010, serving as the Senate President Pro Tempore from 2002 to 2004, and Senate Majority Leader from 2008 to 2010.

Rivas Logan, a former Republican member of the Florida House, ran as a Democrat in Senate District 40 in 2016, but lost the primary to then-Sen. Dwight Bullard.

Taddeo ran in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, where she faced former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in the Democratic Party. She received 49 percent of the vote to Garcia’s 51 percent. In 2014, she was former Gov. Charlie Crist’s running mate when he ran for governor as a Democrat.

The special primary election is July 25, with the special general election scheduled for Sept. 26. A special election in House District 116, triggered by Diaz’s resignation, has been scheduled for the same days.

Jeremy Ring files to run for CFO

Jeremy Ring has made it official.

The Margate Democrat became the first person to throw his hat into the 2018 Chief Financial Officer race, filing to run for the statewide office on Tuesday. Ring had been eyeing the seat, and earlier this year said he would make a decision after the 2017 Legislative Session.

A former Yahoo executive, Ring was first elected to the Florida Senate in 2006. He has described himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. He served as the chairman of the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, and worked on pension-related issues. He also work with then-Senate President Andy Gardiner to push legislation to help people with disabilities.

During a speech in Tampa earlier this year, he admitted that his chances of capturing the CFO spot would require raising an “incredible amount of money,” and having a solid campaign team in place.

Another factor will be who Gov. Rick Scott appoints to fill the CFO position once Jeff Atwater leaves office. Atwater, who was elected in 2010, announced earlier this year that he was leaving before the end of his term to take a job at Florida Atlantic University. He’s expected to leave once the budget process is completed.

Many people believe whoever Scott appoints will run for the seat, likely giving them the advantage going into 2018.

Ring could have an advantage when it comes to fundraising. According to financial disclosure documents filed in 2016, Ring is worth more than $12.5 million. While he is capable of self-funding his campaign, he has indicated that isn’t the plan.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons