Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — June 16

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Sunburn — The definitive morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

Jeb Bush’s afternoon presidential announcement is what made the deadlines, but it’s what happened after midnight which was likely more important to the average Floridian.

LAWMAKERS REACH LATE NIGHT BUDGET DEAL via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

Aided by a last-minute infusion of cash that went to projects backed by the state’s Republican leaders, Florida legislators late Monday night reached a deal on a nearly $80 billion budget for the state.

The agreement, much of which was pounded out in private meetings and out of the view of the public, means legislators are on track to approve a budget by Friday. State law requires that lawmakers must wait 72 hours after the budget is placed on their desks before taking a final vote.

Legislators are racing against the clock to get their work done. State government could be partially shut down if a new budget isn’t in place by the end of June.

House and Senate budget negotiators in the last few days had agreed to set aside more than $400 million in tax cuts and to provide a 3 percent boost in the amount spent on each public school students.

But shortly before midnight, the budget chiefs clinched their final deal by adding roughly $300 million for hometown projects into the budget. Some of the money went to top priorities of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.

Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican, wanted money for his initiative to offer bonuses to school districts that require children to wear school uniforms. Gardiner, an Orlando Republican, won $15 million for a push to build a new downtown campus in University of Central Florida.

Gardiner also got the House to agree to expand eligibility requirements for a fledging program that aids special needs children.

Sen. Tom Lee, the Senate budget chief and a Brandon Republican, defended the decision to add a long list of additional projects in the waning moments of budget negotiations. But he contended many of the projects had previously been discussed before.

“I realize the hour’s late and we are running up against a deadline,” Lee said. “This has been the product of multiple days of discussions…The fact that you are just now seeing it doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a real inclusive process that we followed to get to this place.”

Rep. Richard Corcoran, the House budget chief who had required House members to fill out forms documenting their budget requests, asserted that “this is the way government should work.”


— @MDixon55: there is a complete cluster, House and Senate killing each other and we get about 50 (probably more) pages of documents at 11:30 pm

— @Fineout: Been covering the budget for more than a decade. Never seen roughly $250m worth of projects thrown into budget at last min

— @MaryEllenKlas: Transparency for @richardcorcoran and Tom Lee also = expanding eligibility for vouchers recipients with special needs #isn‘t that policy?

— @GrayRohrer: Yeah, so that’s $300M that didn’t go into tax cuts, didn’t go to hospitals. Ya know, the thing they needed special session for. Ho hum.

LATE-NIGHT BUDGET REWARDS TAMPA BAY via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

(L)awmakers … allotted $17 million for the relocation of the University of South Florida’s medical school to downtown Tampa, ensuring an anchor for the proposed redevelopment of the city’s Channel District.

… The good news for Tampa Bay was the medical school funding, as well as $12.3 million for the USF St. Petersburg College of Business.

Several other area projects also got their funding, though a separate heart institute planned for downtown got no money this upcoming year.

… In other local items, the Tampa Bay History Center got $2 million, the Temple Terrace Family Recreation Complex received $500,000, the University of Tampa Plant Museum got a little over $61,000.

A previous request for $1 million for the Tampa Theatre’s capital improvements was approved last weekend.


Last-minute items added to the budget via eleventh-hour proviso language include:

–$7 million to be placed in reserves for the purchase of new radios for state law enforcement personnel, a move Sen. Jack Latvala said last week could amount to a “back door extension” of a contract held by Harris Corporation, the state’s current radio communications vendor.

— $8.5 million in new funds for Enterprise Florida, at Gov. Scott’s request.

— $6.8 million for school uniforms, which Corcoran afterwards explained was “a priority of the Speaker.”

— $1 million in recurring General Revenue funds for “programs designed to expand uses of beef and beef products and strengthen the market position of the cattle industry in this state and in the nation.”

— $1 million for the assessment and evaluation of lands near Gasparilla Island State Park in Charlotte & Lee counties, despite grumblings from Speaker Crisafulli and other key legislative leaders that the state already owns too much land.

— $1 million for the “Florida Virtual Curriculum Marketplace,” to “support small and rural districts with digital learning tools, digital resources, technical support and professional development opportunities for schools in the Panhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC), Northeast Florida Education Consortium (NEFEC) and Heartland Consortiums and for schools in districts with 24,000 or FTE [full-time or equivalent] students.”


House and Senate leaders declared … that they had set aside $55 million for buying new public land from a ballot measure that was passed last year by 75 percent of state voters. It wasn’t until Monday that environmentalists realized lawmakers were planning to spend far less, setting up a likely legal showdown over what exactly Amendment 1 means.

The problem: The ballot measure, Amendment 1, dedicated more than $700 million for conservation and preservation. Environmentalists had hoped that lawmakers would approve at least $300 million to buy conservation and preservation lands … Instead, lawmakers carved up the money for other projects, including millions for an agricultural giant.

Sponsors of Amendment 1 said the weekend agreement earmarks only $17.4 million for the acquisition of parks and wildlife habitat under the state program Florida Forever.

“This is an insult to the 4.2 million voters who voted Yes for Amendment 1,” said Will Abberger, chairman of Florida Water and Land Legacy, the Amendment 1 sponsor committee. “Last November Florida voters sent a loud and clear message to the Legislature: make funding for conservation land acquisition a priority. The Legislature is ignoring Florida voters.”

Abberger and Audubon of Florida executive director Eric Draper said they were exploring “all options,” which they said could include legal action against the Legislature for violating the intent of Amendment 1.

Even one of the negotiators of the agreement, Senate Appropriations Chair Lee … said a legal challenge is certain. “I’m not a lawyer, but in this world we live in today, I am confident of one thing and one thing only, and that is that there will be litigation,” Lee said.

Speaker Crisafulli … defended the Amendment 1 spending plan … Yet lawmakers want to spend about half of the Amendment 1 money on projects and programs that have historically been paid for out of other parts of the budget. After Gov. Rick Scott signs a budget, it won’t be clear exactly how his Department of Environmental Protection will spend the money the Legislature allocated for it. Much of the spending plan is vague.

Line items like “state park facility improvements” could mean anything from conservation-minded infrastructure projects to building new bathrooms, Draper said.

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JEB BUSH OFFERS SOME SURPRISES via Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg View

Bush’s speech announcing his presidential campaign confirmed some things we already suspected — like the fact that he’s running — but also revealed a few surprises that suggest the 2016 Republican primaries will be more interesting than expected.

First: Yes, Bush plans to portray most of his Republican rivals as a bunch of big talkers who have never run anything. File this in the we-already-knew-it category. Second: More surprisingly, Bush is distancing himself from his brother’s economic record. He attacked President Barack Obama for what he called “the slowest economic recovery ever.” Third: Bush is running as a full-spectrum conservative rather than shying away from social issues. He didn’t just attack Democrats for favoring excessive regulation and diminished defense spending. He criticized them for what he called “the shabby treatment” of a religious charity — the Little Sisters of the Poor — that opposes regulation forcing it to facilitate contraceptive coverage for its employees.

Fourth: Even as he courts conservatives, Bush is already running for the general election. His remark a few months ago about being willing to lose the primary to win the general was clumsy: It made no sense taken literally and it inadvertently conveyed an indifference to conservative voters. But he was apparently quite serious about the basic point: He isn’t going to sacrifice his electability to win primary votes, and he’s going to campaign with the general electorate at the forefront of his mind.

Fifth: Details TBD. Hillary Clinton‘s speech last weekend was heavy on policy. It mentioned universal early-childhood education, paid sick days and family leave, a higher minimum wage, and more. Bush opted for a more thematic approach. Sixth: He knows he’s not going to have a coronation. “It is entirely up to me to earn the nomination of my party,” he said.


Here are five takeaways from Bush’s campaign launch:

1. ¡JEB, the Latino candidate! From beginning to end, Bush’s campaign kickoff bore the stamp of Miami’s Latin flavor.

2. Jeb wants to be the candidate of reform, not grievance. Bush pushed an image of himself as a fix-it politician who would start an aggressive reform agenda on Day One.

3. Jeb wants to change the legacy script. While his brother oversaw the beginnings of a devastating economic collapse, Bush foisted the legacy of an underwhelming economic recovery on Obama and pointed to his own financial legacy: high bond ratings and low unemployment.

4. Jeb’s stances on immigration and Common Core distance him from the GOP base, but his Catholic faith brings him back into the flock.His son, George P. Bush, highlighted his father’s religiosity, telling the crowd that “faith in God has organized his life and purpose — it has sustained him.”

5. Jeb’s bringing hustle to the game, and trying to shake the entitlement rep. “I will campaign as I would serve, going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching, and staying true to what I believe,” Bush promised at the close of his speech. “I will take nothing and no one for granted. I will run with heart. I will run to win.”

>>>Text of Bush’s remarks, as prepared for delivery.


Naples Daily NewsJeb Bush announces, ‘I am a candidate for president of the United States’ – “Our country is on a very bad course, and the question is: What are we going to do about it … The question for me is: What am I going to do about it? And I have decided.” Yahoo! Politics… announcement shaped by family history – “Try as he might to emphasize that he is his own man and not his father or his older brother … Bush could not shake the echoes of the past …” ABC News, …’I Will Run To Win’ – “Bush’s entrance marks the official battle of two political dynasties; the Clintons vs. the Bushes, the two candidates with the most name recognition and likely the most money.” The Guardian‘I know we can fix this’ – “In any language, my message will be an optimistic one … I am certain that we can make the decades just ahead in America the greatest time ever to be alive in this world.” New York Times… Saying ‘America Deserves Better.’ – “Bush, whose two terms as governor of Florida were marked by the privatization of traditional state services, vowed to ‘take Washington – the static capital of this dynamic country – out of the business of causing problems’ … I know we can fix this … Because I’ve done it.” Huffington PostJeb Bush Officially Announces … – “Describing himself as a ‘reforming governor,’ Bush touted his leadership experience while diminishing the records of his opponents coming from the U.S. Senate (as well as onetime-senator President Barack Obama).” Al-Jazeera America… touting record as Fla. governor  – “Bush attempted to address the persistent skepticism … about his conservative bona fides — a baffling misconception to observers of his governorship in Florida who point to a conservative record on everything from fighting teachers’ unions to tax cuts for the wealthy to social issues.”


Immigration protesters disrupt announcement and Jeb responds.


@MarcoRubio: In politics, people throw around the word ‘friend’ so much it often has little real meaning. When I call @JebBush my friend, I mean it.

@JebBush: thanks Marco. Glad I can do it in our hometown. See you out there!

TWEET, TWEET: @MarcACaputo: In style, this is the best-written best-delivered and best-received Jeb speech I & others who covered him for years remember

SPOTTED: Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, Adam Putnam

SPOTTED: Al Cardenas, Lincoln Diaz Balart, George LeMieux, Bill McCollum

SPOTTED: Paul Bradshaw, David Browning, Lisa Ard, Randy Enwright, Ryan Duffy, Alia Faraj-Johnson, Glen Gilzean, William Large, Jim Rimes, Justin Sayfie, Stephanie Smith

SPOTTED at Hillstone (akaHouston’s ) in Coral Gables on the Miracle Mile – NY Jets owner & political rainmaker Woody Johnson, Jack Oliver, Slater Bayliss & Joe Caruncho


Hours before Bush was to go before thousands of supporters and formally declaring his candidacy for president, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a few local progressive activists assailed Bush as nothing more than a right-wing Tea Party-following member of the Republican Party.

“Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are fully embracing the entire right-wing Tea Party agenda that the Republican Party has adopted in recent years,” she said to reporters in the Graham Center at Florida International University in Miami. “In order for either of them to get their party’s nomination, they’re going to have to remain loyal to that agenda.”

Wasserman Schultz disagreed with the notion that Bush represents perhaps the greatest challenge to a Democrat based on his stances on hot-topic issues such as immigration and Common Core education standards. Those views don’t play well with GOP primary audiences, but would seem to make him a much more mainstream Republican than many other candidates in the race, including Rubio.

The DNC chairwoman was merciless, though, in saying that there wasn’t anything moderate at all about Bush, and neither were some of the advocates who came to speak out about him as well.

“As a fellow Floridian, who fights day in and day out for the LGBT community, I can tell you that Jeb Bush is no friend to our community,” said Tony Lima, executive director with SAVE, an LGBT activist group based in Miami-Dade County. He referred to how Bush opposes marriage equality and once called those who advocate for same-sex marriage “a modern victims movement,” as well as derisively mentioned his support for the Indiana’s religious freedom law.

“You are wrong,” Lima said about Bush. “You are wrong for the LGBT community, and you are wrong for the American people.”

BUSH’S SMOOTH MONEY MACHINE via Anna Palmer and Tarini Parti of POLITICO

Bush’s laser focus on fundraising has sent him crisscrossing the country over the past six months to headline roughly 70 money events as he tries to smash existing presidential campaign records.

The full-court press is a key component of his campaign strategy to shut out potential rivals from megadonors, cement himself as the Republican establishment candidate and create the most ambitious presidential fundraising operation in history — all before even announcing his White House bid.

During the months Bush considered jumping into the race, the former Florida governor built out an internal fundraising unit, launched three fundraising vehicles … and maintained an aggressive fundraising schedule to fill the campaign coffers of his super PAC, Right to Rise. It is projected by campaign insiders to raise around $100 million by month’s end. Bush’s donor pitch in the early days was simple: write the biggest checks you can and create a massive pile of cash to scare away other candidates.

That strategy did not work out, and the GOP field continues to grow … Still, people familiar with Bush’s fundraising said his Right to Rise super PAC had raised close to $90 million by spring, putting it on a pace to crush existing records. For example, Mitt Romney raised just over $20 million during the first half of 2011, much lower than the $50 million his strategists had hoped to pull in. And President Barack Obama raised $86 million when he ran for reelection. Hillary Clinton, who has focused on just raising primary money in $2,700 increments for her 2016 bid, is expected to report a significantly smaller haul.

It also reflects Bush’s embrace of the super PAC era, more so than any other candidate. His team has routinely asked megadonors for seven-figure contributions, and Bush’s decision to wait until June to announce his bid was largely so he could raise money for his super PAC, which he cannot do under campaign finance laws after he becomes an official candidate.


The political action committee that’s been raising money for Bush‘s nascent presidential campaign is expected to announce a prodigious fundraising number soon, perhaps as much as $100 million … that’s for his Right to Rise PAC. Now that he’s an official entrant into the 2016 GOP sweepstakes, the candidate can “only” raise $2,700 from individuals for his run for the nomination for president.

In a conference call with donors shortly after Bush announced his candidacy before an adoring crowd at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus, Heather Larrison, who runs the fundraising for the campaign, announced their “27 for 16″ campaign, challenging “co-chairs” to help raise $27,000 by finding 10 people who can give the maximum $2,700 donation for Bush’s primary campaign by June 30.

For those donors who can do that, Larrison said they would be invited to the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine for a special dinner on July 9.

“Thank you for the support that you’ve given in the past, and for the support that you will continue to give,” Bush told the donors. “A well-funded campaign with a good strategy and a candidate that’s better every day is a winning one.”

Bush discussed his schedule for the next week, which begins … in New Hampshire and includes an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. “Hopefully, he’ll be kind to me.”


In declaring his campaign for president, Bush opens a maverick White House bid that could reshape Republican politics for a generation and make him the third member of his family to occupy the Oval Office in three decades.

Or, his candidacy could crater after colliding with the party’s most conservative elements and become a cautionary tale for future candidates—dynastic or not—who’d dare to buck the GOP grassroots.

A favorite of the GOP establishment, the former Florida governor enters the race with an overwhelming fundraising advantage and an expansive campaign operation, buoyed by his and his family’s deep political network. But in promising to turn the page on the Obama era and boost the country’s ailing middle class, the scion of one of America’s most prominent political clans must convince a skeptical Republican base that he is his own man.

“We don’t need another president who merely holds the top spot among the pampered elites of Washington. We need a president willing to challenge and disrupt the whole culture in our nation’s capital,” Bush said in his announcement. “And I will be that president.”

He faces a crop of fresh-faced governors and senators, and lingering hostility from GOP activists who view much of the Bush family legacy as one of conservative betrayal and political compromise. And his support for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core education standards are anathema to many of the hard-line conservatives who play an outsize role in some of the early-nominating states.

Bush, however, sees his campaign as an opportunity to persuade his party on those hot-button issues while he touts his deeply conservative record as a former two-term governor of the nation’s largest swing state. Bush’s success in the GOP primary may turn on whether that record satisfies conservatives who view him as too moderate for today’s Republican Party, largely because of his stances on immigration and education.


Bush now has more endorsements, 13, from current House members, governors and senators than anyone else in the 2016 Republican field. He’s also the only candidate besides Sen. Rand Paul to pick up at least two endorsements from members of Congress who are not from his home state.

… When we weight these endorsements by position (10 points for each governor, 5 points for each senator and 1 point for each representative), Bush’s 13 points account for 28 percent of all endorsement points so far. That’s OK, but not great. And most Republican bigwigs haven’t made a choice at all.

… Using data from The Party Decides and Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action, we can see a clear relationship between early endorsements and the eventual percentage of the national primary vote won by candidates in non-incumbent primaries since 1980.

… Mitt Romney was considered a weak front-runner in 2012, and he had three times the number of endorsement points as Bush has. John McCain, who was struggling in the summer of 2007, had 15 percentage points more of the endorsement share than Bush does right now. Meanwhile, Bush’s brother, George W. Bush, already had nearly 30 times the number of endorsement points and nearly 50 percentage points more of the endorsement share at this point in the 2000 race.

… But what about all that money that Bush’s super PAC is gobbling up? …  (I)f you were trying to explain the eventual vote won by primary candidates using endorsements and campaign fundraising since 1980, you’d give the endorsement percentage earned roughly 2.5 times the weight of money raised. In other words, money tells us something. Endorsements tell us more.


— “A celebration of Latin culture ahead of Jeb Bush’s announcement” via Sarah Rumpf of

— “12 things to know about Jeb Bush” via Carrie Levine and Jared Bennett of the Center for Public Integrity

— “In Defense of ‘Jeb!’” via Erick Erickson of


The big news … A new poll of the 2016 Republican presidential primary shows renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson in the lead! At 11 percent!

As we noted last year, it’s hugely unusual to have a race that basically has no frontrunner or group of frontrunners. There’s really no recent precedent for a race that polls as wide-open as this one does. … There are many other considerations here, including the ability of the candidates to raise money for and run a national campaign, which most (we’d argue) lower-tier candidates (like Carson) will struggle to do. This is why The Fix Boss and I have identified what is basically a three-candidate top tier of BushMarco Rubio and Scott Walker right now.

But that top tier isn’t borne out in the polling right now — at all. In fact, all three are statistically tied with the likes of Carson and even Mike Huckabee for the lead.

What’s perhaps most remarkable is that the leader is at just 11 percent. That’s basically unheard-of in modern polling. When we wrote a little more than a year ago that the GOP primary was likely to be the most wide-open contest ever, the leaders were at 13 percent; today’s they’re as low as 10 percent (in a recent Fox News poll) and seem destined to drop into the single digits as the field keeps ballooning.

After all, in a field where the leader is at 11 percent right now and in a state like Iowa where the winner took less than 25 percent of the vote in 2012, it’s not inconceivable the winner this year could be stuck in the teens. And who’s to say that couldn’t be Carson?


Donald Trump is stepping closer to a run for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Republican businessman and reality television star will share details about his personal finances … that reveal a net worth of $9 billion. The well-known television personality will release the financial details at an 11 a.m. announcement in New York, where he will formally declare his 2016 intentions.

That’s according to a source close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the announcement.

All federal candidates for office, including presidential contenders, are required to release a personal financial disclosure form that includes net worth, sources of income, liabilities and assets.

Doing so was thought by some to be the final obstacle blocking Trump from launching a 2016 campaign.


Fundraising efforts continue to gear up for Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and his non-campaign for U.S. Senate.

Lopez-Cantera’s political committee, known as the Restore Washington Leadership PAC, is hosting a $5,000 per person fundraising reception on Thursday, June 25, in Coral Gables with special guests former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Lopez-Cantera has not announced his candidacy but has been making calls to gauge support. As long as he remains a non-candidate, federal law allows him to raise money for his super PAC without violating campaign-finance laws that prohibit candidates from coordinating with super PACs.

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RICK SCOTT IN PARIS … announces … GA Telesis will expand in Florida … Lockheed Martin to add 130 jobs at Cape Canaveral … Embraer will add 150 Jobs in Brevard County … Aerospace Precision is moving operations to Florida from California … historic partnership Between NASA and Space Florida.


Gov. Scott and all three elected Cabinet members will agree to more transparency and training to end a lawsuit by news outlets accusing them of backroom dealings that violated Florida’s Sunshine Law.

The compromise agreement ends the suit by more than a dozen media organizations, including the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, that accused all four statewide officials of circumventing the open meetings law in the orchestrated removal of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

By law, details of mediation sessions are confidential but terms of the settlement and its eight specific conditions were released Monday. The settlement is binding when Scott and the Cabinet approve it at their next meeting on June 23.

Among the conditions … Scott and Cabinet members must “promptly” forward all public records sent to private email accounts to their state email accounts, so that they can be captured by requests for those records. … No agenda item can be considered at a Cabinet meeting unless a written request is made to the governor or the issue has been discussed at a Cabinet meeting. … Expanded Sunshine Law training for the governor, Cabinet members and their staffs will include a declaration that Scott and the Cabinet are bound by the Sunshine Law, but staff members are not unless they are being used “as a liaison to communicate information on Cabinet matters.” … A circuit judge will retain jurisdiction of the agreement in case Scott or Cabinet members violate it.

Four other conditions in the settlement are already in effect after being approved by Scott and the Cabinet.


Floridians will get a 10-day tax break on school supplies, computers and clothes under a more than $400 million tax cut package approved by the Florida Legislature.

The Senate … passed the tax cut bill by a 34-2 margin. The Florida House also approved it by a 91-2 margin and sent it to the desk of Gov. Scott. The tax holiday will be held Aug. 7 to Aug. 16.

The legislation also contains a cut in the state tax charged on cellphones and cable television. Scott pushed legislators to pass nearly $700 million of tax cuts.

But legislators scaled back the tax cut amount in order to boost funding to hospitals.


Tom Feeney, CEO of Associated Industries: “We applaud the Florida Legislature for putting Florida’s businesses and families first by passing more than $400 million in tax cuts, including the reduction of the Communications Services Tax that will provide fiscal relief for a substantial number of Florida families. Florida families that pay for a cell phone, cable or satellite service.”

David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce: “Lawmakers took a positive step today by passing several of the Florida Chamber’s targeted tax reform priorities. We commend the House and Senate for their work on negotiating a meaningful tax cut package and we look forward to Governor Rick Scott signing it into law.”

Kevin Hyman, Executive Vice President Cable Operations for Bright House Networks: “Bright House Networks commends Governor Scott’s commitment to the “Keep Florida Working” budget tax cuts and the Florida legislature for making these cuts a reality. In particular, the reduction in this regressive tax on cell phones and TV services demonstrates his compassion and concern for all Floridians, particularly low income households, who can least afford these kinds of taxes.”

Steve Wilkerson, President of the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association: “Florida consumers and businesses now pay extremely high taxes for using cell phones, watching cable TV and using other communications services so essential today.  The tax cut enacted by the 2015 Legislature and strongly advocated by Governor Rick Scott will benefit virtually all Florida consumers and businesses in a significant way.  Well done!”

Joe York, President AT&T Florida: “Today’s passage of more than $400 million in tax cuts is great news not just for our customers, but for all Florida families. We applaud Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for passing legislation that ensures our customers continue to keep more of the money they earn.”

TWEET, TWEET: @MattGaetz: Maybe my hometown paper could write a story about tax cuts?


Rep. Frank Artiles … was on a plane from Miami … as the House voted on its only bill of the day — a $428 million tax cut package. The bill passed with only two no votes and one of them was from Artiles.

The reason: Rep. Gayle Harrell … who sits in the adjoining seat on the House floor, voted on the bill as a courtesy to Artiles. “I did not realize he wasn’t here,” she said after the vote.

She said she first pressed the green “yes” button and when she was told Artiles was absent, she tried to undo it and it registered as a “no.”

Artiles arrived 30 minutes later and gave the embarrassed Harrell a hug.

“It was an innocent mistake,” he said.  He said he would ask the House clerk to change his vote on the register since he would have voted “yes” if he had arrived on time. But the “no” vote remains his “official” vote.

“It was totally a mess up on my part,” Harrell said. “Please don’t blame Rep. Artiles.”

Harrell said she and Artiles have an arrangement. If one of them is not on the floor, but is present for the session, they will push the button for the other as a courtesy. However, the machine does not allow a member to undo a vote once they cast it. The House rules requires that if a member is on the House floor, they must cast a vote.

TWEET, TWEET: @JoseOliva: Senate asked for debate & vote on expansion, House delivered. House sent reform for similar consideration, Senate refused to vote


The “Spotlight Transparency Tour” starts in Tampa on Wednesday June 17 with at least two local hospital executives and Marty Makary, medical doctor and author of “Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care,” slated to address Gov. Rick Scott’s blue ribbon commission.

Makary, associate professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, will address the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding for 90 minutes, according to a draft copy of the agenda. Carlos Beruff asked at a May 26, meeting that the commission members be given a copy of the 2013 book.

Scott announced in a press release that the nine-member commission he appointed in May would begin a statewide transparency tour and that in each city the commission will invite the “lowest and highest performing hospitals” to prevent detailed information on their costs, profits and patient outcomes.

To that end, commission members, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek and Department of Health Secretary John Armstrong, invited two hospitals from the greater Tampa area to make presentations before the board.

Armstrong asked Tampa General Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Burkhart to provide an “initial snapshot” of the facility, including the number of admissions, case mix, length of stay, emergency department visits, total margin, and average cost per patient. He also asked for Burkhart to provide a review of the hospital’s  “operational efficiencies, quality measurement, use of state-supported public funding, and performance-based executive salaries/compensation.”


Health plans that have been participating in the mandatory Medicaid managed care program unfurled in Florida a little more than one year ago will be getting some pay increases in the coming months.

A draft copy of the new rates shows that for the non-elderly population plans will, on average, have a 6.4 percent in rates over current-year rates, according to draft documents the Agency for Health Care Administration shared with the plans this month.

The average rate increase is significantly less than what the Florida Association of Health Plans sought.

Some plans will see much higher rate increases than the average 6.4 percent, according to the draft document while others’ increases will be much smaller than the average.

The managed care plans operating in a stretch of 16 counties across the heartland of Florida will see the highest rate increases at 14.2 percent. Four plans according to the agency website operate in the area: Prestige, Sunshine, United Health and StayWell.

Plans operating in Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties, will see a 14 percent rate increase. According to information posted on the agency website, two plans, Humana and Integral, operate in those counties.

By contrast the seven managed care plans in Pasco and Pinellas counties (Amerigroup, Better Health, Humana, Integral, Prestige, Sunshine and StayWell) are slated for a .6 percent rate increase and AHCA is recommending a 1.9 percent increase for the four plans (Amerigroup, Prestige, Sunshine, StayWell) that operate in Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Polk counties.


How often does a major household-name U.S. corporation – No. 8 on the latest Fortune 500 ranking with a market value topping $273 billion – complain publicly about heavy taxes and suggest relocating its headquarters?

General Electric shocked the nation’s economic development world this month when CEO Jeff Immelt announced GE needs to figure out if it’s time to move its headquarters out of Fairfield, Conn., to a more tax-friendly state. The giant maker of everything from household appliances and lighting to aviation, transportation products and energy management employs 5,700 in its headquarters and more than 300,000 worldwide.

Immelt called Connecticut’s tax scene “truly discouraging.”

The response to GE has been rapid if not rabid. Some states seem to recognize a potential headquarters relocation of a company the size and stature of GE is a once-in-a generation opportunity.

Is Florida arriving late to the GE conga line? Is Jeff Vinik – granted, he is distracted by something called the Stanley Cup – slow to pick up the hotline to CEO Immelt? Other states pitching GE include Ohio and New York.

At the state level – and an effort to recruit a company the size of GE would require major state involvement – there’s little word that Florida is beyond a tepid Defcon 5 – much less 1. In Tampa, Vinik’s staff … indicated they do not believe their boss has been in touch with GE.

Tampa Hillsborough EDC chief Rick Homans hints GE is on his radar. “I can guarantee you that if a company comes right out and says it wants to move its headquarters, we’re in touch with them,” he stated in an email.


One of the longest serving officials at the Department of Corrections, Tim Cannon … is retiring as deputy secretary of institutions effective July 31.

Cannon, a 25-year veteran of the department, rose through the ranks of the $2.1 billion agency that has more than 22,000 employees. During his tenure, DOC grew to more than 100,000 inmates, saw use-of-force reports filed by staff climb to unprecedented heights and suspicious inmate deaths rise.=

“Mr. Cannon’s leadership, compassion and correctional experience have had a positive impact on our Department,” said DOC Secretary Julie Jones in a statement. He will be replaced by Ricky Dixon as interim deputy secretary of institutions, Jones said.

“God has richly blessed me during my career,” Cannon said in his retirement note to Jones. “I have developed long lasting friendships and relationships with both staff and inmates that have enriched my life. I love this Department and the people that serve our state, I am very confident that the Agency will move forward under your leadership. God bless and thank you for your support and friendship.”

Cannon’s retirement has been rumored for months but it was expected to take effect later in the year. Jones has come under fire from state senators for slow-walking reforms at the agency that had lost their trust after reports of culture of abuse and cover-up.


Ed Briggs, RSA Consulting Group: Florida Tax Collectors Association, Inc.

Patricia Brooks-Nobles: Bank of America

Leslie Dughi, Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: West Point Underwriters

Jason Gonzalez, Shutts & Bowen: DaVita, Inc.

TAMPA LAWYER TO BE HEAD OF FLORIDA BAR via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Tampa attorney William J. Schifino, Jr. will become president-elect of The Florida Bar at its annual convention this month in Boca Raton.

Schifino, who will take the leadership reins in June 2016, will be sworn in at the General Assembly on Friday, June 26. Miami attorney Ramón A. Abadin will be sworn in as president. Schifino is managing partner of the Tampa office of Burr & Forman. He is Board Certified in business litigation, focusing on complex commercial litigation along with an emphasis on securities, intellectual property, professional malpractice and employment litigation.

He is a past president of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and is the current president of the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation. He has represented the 13th Judicial Circuit on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors since 2008. He recently completed an eight-year term as a member of the 13th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission, serving as its chair.

— “Blogger, Festivus Pole creator Chaz Stevens snubbed by Broward Democrats” via Peter Schorsch of


Well, the sun has apparently not exploded. Whether or not the sky is falling remains to be seen.

The Athens Banner-Herald on Monday was forced to post a retraction to its website saying, “the sun has not exploded” after mistakenly announcing “the sun just exploded.”

The website of the Athens, Ga. newspaper,, said an “unauthorized updated news item” was posted after the site was the “victim of an online miscue.” The paper said that the incident was being investigated.

“We’re currently trying to determine what happened to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” the Athens Banner-Herald’s Director of Digital Joel Kight said. “And to our knowledge, the sun has not exploded.”

The message that was posted to the site … in its entirety: “This is the emergency broadcast system. Please ignore this message as always. BTW, the sun just exploded, and we’re all about to die.”

The mistaken message quickly spread on social media.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sen. Greg Evers and Omar Khan

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.