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4 posts from May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013

Marco Rubio to join Jeb, Weatherford et al at MavPAC's Miami July meeting


From a press release:

Miami, Florida (May 21, 2013) –U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio, has confirmed his attendance as a presenter at the MavPAC annual conference occurring July 12-13 in Miami, Florida.

"I'm excited to join MavPAC for their annual conference, and in support of their mission to cultivate the future leaders of our movement," said Senator Marco Rubio. "Through MavPac, we have an opportunity to bring together young reform-minded conservatives who don't just want change, but are willing to put the work in to achieve change."

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What they’re saying: Reaction to Scott’s budget, vetoes

Lawmakers, lobbyists and lookers-on chimed in Monday after Gov. Rick Scott signed the state’s $74.1 billion spending plan for the coming year. Some applauded the governor for making historic investments in education, ports and business development. Others, smarting after Scott vetoed $368 million in spending projects endorsed by the Legislature, were none too happy. 

Here’s a roundup of some of the comments:

 --Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said he and the Senate Democrats were “extremely disappointed” by Scott’s budget vetoes. He referred to Scott as a “newcomer” who “misses a critical understanding” about the Legislature’s role in crafting a spending plan. 

Smith summed up his feelings in a tweet: “Gov. Scott fought hard to give 400 million tax break to manufacturers while cutting critical road and water projects for cities. SMH.”

--Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, kept a cordial tone, despite the fact that some of the major projects in his district were slashed by Scott’s veto pen. 

“Unlike the deficits and dysfunctions in Washington, today our Chief Executive signed a budget that lives within our means, meets the critical needs of the people of Florida, raises the salaries of state workers and effective teachers, pays down obligations instead of piling on more, puts aside money for a rainy day, and doesn't raise taxes by one dollar,” he said. 

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Gov. Rick Scott’s veto pen is back: $368 million in line-items slashed

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed nearly $368 million in spending from the state’s budget, using his line-item authority to strike out scores of projects ranging from a $50 million coast-to-coast bike trail to tens of millions in college and university tuition hikes.

Scott’s extensive veto list is more than twice as large as his list last year, and his largest since his first year in office. It slashed state spending from $74.5 million to $74.1 million. Even with the vetoes, the 2013-2014 budget is still the largest on record, and includes $480 million for teacher pay raises, $8.5 billion for transportation projects,  $151.8 million for Everglades restoration and $273 million for ports.

“The Florida Families First budget helps families pursue their dreams by getting a great job and accessing a quality education,” Scott said in an emailed statement. “Teachers will get a pay raise and funds for their classroom supplies so they don’t have to pay out-of-pocket.”

This is Scott’s largest veto effort since his first year in office, when he slashed more than $615 million from the budget. Half of that came from a single-item: spending authority for the Florida Forever land conservation program.

Repeatedly citing the need for a statewide impact and a return on investment for all spending decisions, Scott vetoed more than $25 million in local water projects, millions in spending for education programs and school construction, museums, reentry programs and other social services. Many lawmakers hoping to include so-called “turkeys” in the budget during the first year of a surplus in years will be disappointed as their hometown projects were axed by Scott.

As expected, Scott vetoed a 3 percent tuition increase for state colleges, universities and workforce education. In announcing the veto, he included comments of support from three community college presidents and University of Florida President Bernie Machen.

“As a result of the additional funds contained in the budget, the University of Florida will not be seeking a tuition increase for next year,” Machen said.

Scott had hoped all 12 state university presidents would collectively sign a letter rejecting any tuition revenue increases, but they refused. Although Scott said in his veto letter that his intent is to maintain tuition and fees at current levels, state law requires tuition to rise to equal the rate of inflation, which is 1.7 percent this year.

One of Scott’s largest veto items: $50 million for the state’s Coast-to-Coast connector, a bike trail stretching from St. Petersburg to Titusville. Scott said his Transportation Work Program already includes more than $57 million in statewide funding for transit greenway projects, and that the connector could be completed over time.

“The worthwhile project contemplated by the Coast-to-Coast connector,” Scott wrote, “can be built incrementally and consistent with a prioritization of gaps in the existing trail system.”

--Other vetoes in the budget below:

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RIP: Lincoln Gabriel Diaz-Balart, 29.


LDBLincoln Gabriel Diaz-Balart, son and namesake of a former congressman and nephew of a current U.S. representative, died Sunday at the age of 29.

The family has asked for privacy and time to grieve.

The Diaz-Balart family is, perhaps, the most-politically powerful in Miami's Cuban-exile community.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is a sitting Republican representative. His brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart retired from congress after the 2010 elections. Another brother, Jose Diaz-Balart is a Telemundo host. A cousin of theirs is son and namesake of Fidel Castro, a prior uncle by marriage. A longtime family friend and virtual sister, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, expressed her sorrow this morning in a radio interview during which she spoke of the toll of depression and suicide.

The family's statement:

It is with infinite sadness that we announce the passing, on May 19, 2013, of our beloved son and brother, Lincoln Gabriel Diaz-Balart.

For many years, Lincoln Gabriel struggled with depression.

Lincoln Gabriel was a kind and loving human being. His love and compassion touched many lives during his 29 years.

We will remember him with profound love and devotion for the rest of our lives.

Lincoln, Cristina, and Daniel Diaz-Balart