Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
FLORIDA BUDGET FORECASTERS SEATING THE ‘TRUMP EFFECT’
State officials trying to nail down how much money Florida government will have to spend next year confronted two major uncertainties Monday:
Whether and when a long-expected surge in housing construction will arrive.
And whether Donald Trump will govern as he campaigned.
“It’s really too early to build in anything that’s unique to the Trump administration,” Amy Baker, the Legislature’s chief economist, said following a meeting of the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference.
“We don’t know the timing, how, or what it will look like yet,” she said of Trump’s economic plan. “A lot of unknowns.”
Don Langston, representing the House, concurred during the panel’s discussion.
“Who knows what this looks like in the next two to three months?” he said.
The state’s general revenue fund is expected to run on razor-thin margins next year and into the red in subsequent years.
A panel comprising Baker and representatives of Gov. Rick Scott and the House and Senate pored over national economic projections prepared by an outside consultancy; the officials will look at Florida-specific numbers Friday.
The report arrived around the same time Trump won the presidency — too early to account for his policies as president, Baker said. Conference staff called it the “Trump effect.”
“They relied heavily on things looking in the future just like they have in the past, until they know better,” Baker said.
When the conference last met in July, the projection was for a 9.5 percent rise in housing starts during 2017. Now they expect 1.9 percent, with a 9.1 percent surge pushed into 2018.
“Instead of it being a two-year recovery” in that sector, “they’re looking at a three-year recovery,” Baker said.
Construction — especially housing starts — is a big piece of the state economy, fueling collection of sales and real estate taxes, among others.
“We’re real dependent on housing construction coming back,” Baker said. “That’s probably our biggest worry.”
SENATE ALREADY CRITICAL OF RICHARD CORCORAN PLAN TO SHUT DOWN BUDGET via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – (A) far-reaching change that could set the tone for the entire 2017 session is Corcoran’s creation of an entirely new system for getting local projects funded in future state budgets. The new rules require that every project paid for with one-time or nonrecurring money also be filed as stand-alone bills by March 7, the first day of the session, meaning each one must be debated on its merits and they can no longer be tucked inside a mammoth spending plan in the final days. … Senate President Joe Negron … flatly disputed Corcoran’s contention that the House plan increases budget transparency. “I respect the right of the House to produce its own rules on the budget, and I certainly think that there’s a case to be made that there should be an opportunity for the public to be heard,” Negron told the Times/Herald. “But the budget process should not be shut down before the session starts. That results in less public input, not more public input.”
Another new layer of spending scrutiny will soon emerge from the House. Corcoran and his staff are putting the final touches on a survey questionnaire that every group seeking money for projects will have to complete. The survey, with about 40 questions, requires information on who’s registered to lobby for the project, what services will be provided to citizens and whether financially disadvantaged Floridians will benefit.
TWEET, TWEET: @RichardCorcoran: Big changes are coming. More open, more fair, & more accountable. Stay tuned for
#12DaysofChange 12 new Reforms.
ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCIES EXPLAIN BUDGET PROPOSALS via LobbyTools Legislative IQ – State agencies charged with protecting Florida’s environment explained their budget requests for the next fiscal year in a public hearing Nov. 10. Lawmakers will use these proposals when finalizing the budget during the 2017 legislative session. (For example,) the Department of Environmental Protection asked for $1.4 billion, down slightly from last year’s request. That includes $204 for Everglades restoration, $50 million for springs, $52 million for state parks and $25.5 million for land acquisition. With a roughly $1.8 billion total budget, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, highlighted $258 million in requests. Among those was $15 million for nutrient reduction and water retention projects for the Lake Okeechobee watershed, $5.9 million to replace aging equipment for the Florida Forest Service and $17.6 million to support the citrus industry in its battle against greening disease. Asking to cut 9 positions across research, marketing and executive direction, the Department of Citrus total budget request declined to $37.3 million for the next fiscal year. At this time last year, the department requested about $49.6 million.
TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES PRESENT BUDGET REQUESTS via Legislative IQ from LobbyTools – The Department of Transportation is requesting $8.8 billion for the next fiscal year. The ask includes $8 billion to fund the work program, $702 million in operating costs, $56.6 million for the transportation disadvantage and $12.8 million for fixed capital projects. While the total wish list is a $223.5 million increase from last year’s request, the agency notes that 80 positions are scrapped under this request. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles asked for $484 million, about $7.7 million over its 2016-17 appropriations. The agency requested funds to target customer service issues by replace the queuing system for state-owned driver’s licensing offices. Almost $14 million is requested for DHSMV’s “motorist modernization” project as it enters phase two.
HOUSE GOP RELEASES NEW CONFERENCE RULES via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Florida House of Representatives’ new Republican Conference Rules should “end divisive intraparty races for leadership positions,” incoming Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues said on Monday. The new rules, which govern only the chamber’s GOP members, include a change that members must “serve at least one full session before directly or indirectly soliciting pledges of support,” he said in a statement. … The rules are expected to be approved at a GOP Conference meeting next Monday, the day before the 2016 Organization Session.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Randy Fine: Really enjoyed dinner tonight with some of my new Republican colleagues. Here’s to hoping we do some good together.
MEANWHILE … JACK LATVALA BOYCOTTS BUCS GAME AFTER MIKE EVANS PROTEST via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay – The Clearwater Republican said he will not attend another Bucs game until Evans apologizes and he called on all fans to do the same. “He’s disrespected the flag, the national anthem and our whole country,” Latvala said. “I just think it’s wrong, it’s selfish, and I’m tired of it.” Latvala said he respected Evans’ right to protest. But he said that unlike other athletes, such as NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose August protest was over racial oppression, Evans protested the outcome of an election.
2018 WATCH – WILL WEATHERFORD TO DECIDE ON RUNNING FOR GOV IN NEXT 45 DAYS via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – “I think I have to make a decision in the next 45 days internally. Between now and the end of the year I need to decide,” said Weatherford (during) a post-election wrap up with the Greater Tampa Area Chamber of Commerce. “Politically, the timing is really good. On a personal front, I have an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 2-year-old and a bunch of businesses that I’m involved in, so it’s hard to know if now is the right time.”
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HOW MARCO RUBIO OUTDID DONALD TRUMP AND REVIVED HIS CAREER via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In terms of his 714,000, 7.7 percentage-point margin in the general election, Rubio won more than 6 times the votes of Trump in Florida, who beat Hillary Clinton by about 114,000 votes, or 1.2 percentage points. Rubio garnered almost 52 percent of the vote in the U.S. Senate race, while Trump earned a little more than 49 percent in the presidential race. … Rubio’s spot on the ticket probably helped Republicans to such a degree in his Democratic home county of Miami-Dade that Democrats say there was a discernable “Rubio Effect” that helped many Republican state legislators survive in legislative districts that Clinton carried. For a modern-day Republican in a presidential election year, the bilingual Rubio won historic shares of support from Hispanics (48 percent) and African-Americans (17 percent), exit polls showed. He even carried a majority-black Jacksonville precinct.
Rubio’s … said his campaign “frontloaded” its spending and fundraising to savage Murphy early and spook Democrats. “If we posted strong September and early October poll numbers, the Democrats would realize the combination of the gap they needed to make up and how expensive Florida was might make it prohibitive for them, given the fact that their map had multiple other states they wanted to play in,” Rubio said. “If it were a year where there were only one or two seats at stake, it might have been a different situation. It was a year we knew they were involved in Missouri, in Indiana, in North Carolina, Wisconsin and so many other states.”
Rubio’s Senate campaign learned from his presidential loss and invested in more on-the-ground canvassers and local events throughout the state. Rubio kept his trusted team by hiring Something Else Strategies, led by consultants Heath Thompson and Todd Harris, who handled media and strategy for Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign, his presidential election and occupied a similar role in the re-election. Another firm, Firehouse Strategies, was founded by veterans of Rubio’s presidential campaign: Terry Sullivan and Alex Conant, his former Senate office spokesman who consulted on earned media and strategy for the re-election. Sullivan worked for a pro-Rubio super PAC. “We took lessons learned from the presidential campaign and applied it to the Senate re-election. Politics has changed so much in recent years – we produced a lot of content, invested heavily in ground game, and were able to raise amazing amounts of money online,” Conant said in an email.
GOOGLE’S TOP NEWS LINK FOR ‘FINAL ELECTION RESULTS’ GOES TO A FAKE NEWS SITE WITH FALSE NUMBERS via Philip Bump of The Washington Post’s “The Fix” – If you head to Google to learn the final results of the presidential election, the search engine helpfully walks through the final electoral vote tallies and number of seats won by each party in the House and Senate. Under that, Google lists some related news articles. At the top this morning, with an accompanying photo: a story arguing that Trump won both the popular and electoral votes. That’s not true. … Why Google includes 70 News as a news source isn’t clear. Among the main categories of news stories the site lists in its header is “Hillary’s Health,” which links to a number of rumors about the health of the Democratic nominee.
OBAMA URGES AMERICANS TO GIVE DONALD TRUMP A CHANCE via CNN – President Barack Obama encouraged Americans on Monday to give Trump some time to get adjusted to the responsibilities of the presidency. But in his first news conference since last week’s stunning election results, Obama warned that some of Trump’s expectations will soon be shaken up by the gravity of the job. Obama said he was certain after meeting Trump last week that his successor and longtime political foe was “sincere” about being president for all Americans, but also called on the President-elect to reach out to people who felt anxious after the explosive rhetoric of the campaign, including women and minorities.
“I think ultimately he is pragmatic in that way and that can serve him well as long as he has got good people around him and he has a good sense of direction,” Obama said.
OBAMA’S WORRIED ABOUT TRUMP via Michael Bender and Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal – During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Trump seemed surprised by the scope, said people familiar with the meeting. Trump aides were described by those people as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Obama’s term. After meeting with Trump, the only person to be elected president without having held a government or military position, Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.”
TRUMP DIDN’T THINK HE’D LAST PAST OCTOBER 2015: That’s one of the many juicy tidbits in “Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything,” CNN’s book on the 2016 election written by Thomas Lake with reporting from Jodi Enda, Susan Baer and CNN’s political team: Trump told Chris Christie he didn’t think he’d make it past October 2015. “I think they always had an understanding that the first one out would probably endorse the other,” according to a Christie adviser, the book reveals.
TRUMP FOCUSES ON RUDY GIULIANI OR JOHN BOLTON FOR STATE DEPARTMENT: Aides to Trump are focusing on former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton as the leading candidates to be the next secretary of state, the Wall Street Journal reports. The choice between the two would force Trump to choose between Giuliani, a longtime friend and ally in New York, and Bolton, a hawkish conservative diplomat who called last year for the U.S. to bomb Iran.
JUST WONDER ALOUD HERE but if Giuliani goes to State and Christie is on the outs over Bridgegate, doesn’t that present an opening for Pam Bondi to become the Attorney General?
TRUMP CONSIDERING WOMAN, OPENLY GAY MAN FOR LEADERSHIP POSTS via Steve Peoples and Julie Pace of the Associated Press – The incoming president is considering Richard Grenell as United States ambassador to the United Nations. If picked and ultimately confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post. Grenell previously served as U.S. spokesman at the U.N. under former President George W. Bush’s administration. At the same time, Trump is weighing whether to select the first woman to serve as chairman of the Republican National Committee. On his short list of prospective chairs: Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, the former sister-in-law of Trump rival and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
TRUMP DROPS LAWSUIT ABOUT FLIGHTS ABOVE MAR-A-LAGO – Palm Beach County officials say Trump has dropped a lawsuit he filed last year to keep jets from flying over his private South Florida club. The Palm Beach Post reports that County Attorney Denise Nieman emailed commissioners about the lawsuit Monday afternoon. Nieman says Trump’s attorneys contacted her to say they are dropping the lawsuit, which claimed the historic Mar-A-Lago was being irreparably harmed by air traffic from Palm Beach International Airport. The lawsuit being dropped might not be a complete victory for the county. Airports Director Bruce Pelly says he has already been meeting with the Secret Service about steps that will have to be taken to keep air traffic away from Mar-A-Lago when Trump is visiting.
RICK SCOTT TELLS GOP GOVERNORS, “WE MUST REPEAL OBAMACARE” via John Kennedy of The Palm Beach Post – Gov. Scott (told) fellow Republican governors Monday night that “we must repeal Obamacare,” as he kicks off the Republican Governors Association post-election meeting in Orlando. Scott, who got his start politically by financing anti-Affordable Care Act TV spots even before his 2010 run for governor, is ratcheting-up his call for overturning the measure now that the GOP commands the White House and Congress. “We must repeal Obamacare: The elites in DC have created a myth that we cannot repeal Obamacare,” Scott says in prepared remarks for the RGA dinner at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. “It’s a complete myth created by the elite insiders…and many Republicans went along with it.”
GOP DOMINANCE IN WASHINGTON GIVES RUBIO CHANCE TO CHANGE CUBA THAW via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – With Trump and Republican dominance coming to Washington, Rubio has a sudden opportunity to make a difference on an issue that has defined his career: Cuba. “Without question, rolling back President Obama’s one-sided concessions to the Castro regime, a key campaign promise shared with President-elect Trump, will be a top priority for Senator Rubio next year,” a spokesman tells the Tampa Bay Times. “American companies were warned repeatedly not to go into business with the Castro regime. Protecting their profits at the expense of the American people should not be a barrier to President-elect Trump fulfilling a key campaign promise.” Rubio, who easily won re-election, helping Republicans hold the Senate, will be the third most senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. The stunning Trump victory gives him more standing to pursue an agenda.
WITH TRUMP IN WHITE HOUSE, NOW’S THE TIME FOR TAX REFORM via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News – Vern Buchanan, who sits on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, went to bat for tax reform on Monday, sending a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on the matter. Buchanan called on the congressional leadership to use the moment garnered by Trump’s victory in the presidential race to reform the tax code. As one possible change, Buchanan showcased his “Main Street Fairness Act” which would ensure small businesses never pay higher tax rates than corporations as one possible tax reform.
JEFF ATWATER FILES BLOCKBUSTER BILLION-DOLLAR LAWSUIT AGAINST FEDS via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Jeff Atwater wants the federal government to show him the money: More than $1 billion worth. Florida’s chief financial officer now is suing the feds for that amount, saying it has refused to make good on matured U.S. savings bonds he holds as unclaimed property. The suit was filed last week in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which adjudicates demands for payment lodged with the federal government. The Department of Financial Services, which CFO Atwater heads, is holding thousands of “unclaimed, matured savings bonds that were originally registered to individuals with last-known addresses in the State of Florida,” the suit says. Some of the bonds date back to the 1930s. “This issue … represents yet another way we’re working to make Florida’s unclaimed property program the most robust in the nation,” said Atwater spokeswoman Ashley Carr in an email Monday.
NO FIRST CUT: 11 APPLICANTS FOR FLORIDA HIGH COURT MOVE ON via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Eleven applicants, including several judges, a prosecutor, and a state legislator remain in the running to become a Florida Supreme Court justice.A state nominating panel voted Monday to interview everyone who applied for a spot on the court. Justice James Perry is stepping down on Dec. 30 because he’s reached the mandatory retirement age. Gov. Scott will appoint his replacement. Jason Unger, an attorney who heads up the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, suggested interviewing all the candidates because the final number of applicants was “manageable.” The panel plans to conduct interviews Nov. 28. The list of applicants includes State Rep. Larry Metz, Charles Lawson, the chief judge of the 5th District Court of Appeal, and State Attorney Brad King, the lead prosecutor for five central Florida counties.
TWO ATTORNEYS FILL VACANCIES ON BROWARD TRIAL COURT via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott turned to two trial attorneys to fill vacancies on the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, the state trial court in Broward County. Martin S. Fein opened a private practice in 1998 following service as an assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit, centering on Jacksonville. He replaces Judge Renee Goldenburg. … Keathan B. Frink is a partner at Kelley Kronenberg and former assistant public defender. He replaces Judge Dale Ross.
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MORMON UPDATE – BLAMING GREENING, DESERET RANCHES FORESEES THE END OF ITS CITRUS PRODUCTION via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Citrus greening may chase one of Florida’s largest landowners out of that industry. “We’re going to shift out of it and transition, probably, to cattle production,” Erik Jacobsen, president of Deseret Ranches, said in a speech in Tallahassee Monday to the Economic Club of Florida. Deseret, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, owns 295,000 acres in Orange, Osceola and Brevard counties. Since the early 1950s, the company has focused on raising beef cattle there as part of its international operations. But it has 1,600 acres in citrus — enough to produce 20 million glasses or orange juice per year, Jacobsen said. All that’s threatened by greening, a blight blamed on a bacterium. “It’s a tough business right now, and there’s I think going to have to be new thinking in the industry to move forward,” Jacobsen said.
SEMINOLE TRIBE UPDATE – A RECALL, AN OUSTER, AN ELECTION, NOW A DO-OVER IN TRIBE via Nick Sortal for the Miami Herald – The Seminole Tribe of Florida is considering conducting yet another election to select a chairman, after members complained that the winner of an Oct. 31 vote did not meet residency requirements. The tribe’s board of directors ousted chairman James Billie on Sept. 28, after a recall petition and vote by the board. A month later Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. won the election to be chairman. But now the tribal council might void the election. Seminole rules require office-holders to reside on one of the tribe’s reservations. Osceola owns a home on the Hollywood reservation, but it was undergoing repairs for mold damage and he has been living elsewhere.
ORLANDO DELAYS DECISION ON BUYING PULSE NIGHTCLUB via Larry Griffin of Florida Politics – The City of Orlando’s plans to purchase the Pulse nightclub and turn it into a memorial were originally scheduled for Monday’s City Council meeting, but have now been delayed until the Dec. 5 meeting. The reason given by Mayor Buddy Dyer is that the city wants more time to formulate a plan moving forward to deal with the center. “A lot of people have been asking or thinking we had a process for what we were going to do there,” he said. “And we didn’t. We’ve been focused on other pieces of it – the first victim assistance center being set up and making sure we’ve handled the OneOrlando funds appropriately and transparently.”
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Florida Retail Federation will hold a media conference call on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. to talk about this season’s holiday shopping forecast. The call-in number is 877-868-6863, then enter code 621327# (pound key).
DISNEY 4TH QUARTER EARNINGS UP 6% via Terry Roen of Orlando-Rising.com – Guest spending at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts helped boost fourth quarter earnings for the Walt Disney Company by 6 percent to a record $55.6 billion. Higher average ticket prices and room rates, along with increased food and beverage spending caused Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ revenue to increased 5 percent to a record $17 billion, according to the report. Operating income jumped 9 percent to a record $3.3 billion. Both Disney World and Disneyland’s domestic hotels reported that occupancy rose more than 2 percent in the fourth quarter, to 86 percent, compared with the previous year. Hotel spending rose 1 percent.
ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA – President-elect Trump has completed the biggest upset in modern political history. On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda, Florida politicos react to Trump’s election victory. Republican strategist and pollster Brian Graham tells Gomes Trump was just a more exciting candidate than Clinton. Gomes also talks with retiring Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho about voter fraud and University of Florida students help ProPublica investigate election irregularities for a nationwide project called Electionland. Gomes also interviews The Capitolist publisher, Brian Burgess about the impact of Trumps victory on the future of Florida politics.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a host of Florida politics aficionados, including Floridian Partners’ Rodney Barreto, Wayne Bertsch, Evan Power, Angela Rouson (Darryl’s better half), and Max Steele.