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2 posts from April 20, 2014

April 20, 2014

Florida's legislators show their priorities: more $ for hometowns than at-risk kids

In the wake of a bloody year for Florida youngsters, lawmakers have pledged to repair the state’s frayed safety net for abused and neglected children.

But as the state’s annual legislative session winds toward the final gavel, many children’s advocates say legislative leaders have failed to match their words with action and fear some proposals may create new problems.

Gov. Rick Scott has proposed spending $39 million to hire 400 “boots on the ground,” or child abuse investigators who will respond to hotline reports and identify at-risk kids. But investigators typically work with a family for 60 days or less, and then families in need of follow-up help are sent to privately run local agencies.

Those agencies, the governor says, don’t need new money. The agencies counter that if the governor’s plan goes through, their already-backlogged caseloads will swell and families will compete for the services they need to keep children safe. They are asking for $25.4 million more.

“If we get the words right on paper but not do the funding for services, we may actually do some damage,” said Kurt Kelly, president of the Florida Coalition for Children, which represents the state’s community-based-care providers. “There will be such an influx of children in need of services, and we will not have the resources to serve them.”

Florida lawmakers will devote the next two weeks to making choices about how to spend $1.3 billion in new revenue as they craft a record $75 billion state budget. The first drafts show that legislators’ pet projects account for more new money than at-risk kids. Story here.

Here is our interactive graphic. To get a list of some of the proposed projects, click on the + sign.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/20/4069778/florida-budgets-put-priority-on.html#storylink=cpy

The politics of Charlie Crist debate-dodging Nan Rich


Charlie Crist never leaves a TV camera without a comment or campaign talk unspoken.

Except when it comes to Nan Rich.

If you don’t know who that is, it’s evidence of the effectiveness of Crist’s tactic of cold-shouldering the former Weston state Senator, a fellow Democrat he refuses to debate or really acknowledge.

Crist’s debate dodge is also a sign of the ineffectiveness of Rich’s campaign, which hasn’t done enough to force Crist to need to debate her.

Rich officially announced in April 2012 but has only raised $540,000. Crist officially announced 19 months later, and has raised more than 14 times Rich’s amount, about $7.7 million.

Money talks, folks.

It’s a leading indicator of a campaign’s viability. And it’s a lagging indicator of support. Campaigns without lots of money aren’t taken seriously.

Still, since Crist has so much more support (the former governor has universal statewide name ID, Rich is barely known), why not throw her a bone and debate the long-time Democrat, who once led her party in the state Senate?

“No,” Crist said tersely Saturday at a Plantation field office opening, where about 300 people showed in a sign of his groundswell of support in Rich’s home county.

Column here