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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Crist’s midterm report

The Miami Herald/St. Pete Times issued a summary of their midterm report on Governor Charlie Crist on the Naked Politics blog.

 (+) EVERGLADES: With a last-minute lobbying effort from his honeymoon suite, the governor secured a 4-3 vote for his $1.3 billion plan to buy land from U.S. Sugar. Environmentalists hail it as a pivotal step toward accelerating the restoration of the Everglades, even though financial and legal hurdles remain.
   (+) VOTING: He called for a switch to paper ballots in early 2007, reinforcing public confidence in vote-counting and a smooth election in 2008.
    (+) CLEMENCY: He streamlined the clemency process that allows certain felons who have served their time and repaid their debts to restore their civil rights more quickly. It took another year to eliminate other hurdles that kept many felons from being able to register to vote.
    (+/-) CLIMATE CHANGE: An aggressive plan to require that new cars sold in Florida must comply with strict new emissions standards was approved by environmental regulators after intense lobbying by the governor’s staff, but implementation could be delayed because the Legislature must approve it. Lawmakers also put the brakes on the governor’s ambitious timetable requiring power companies to use renewable energy.
    (-) PROPERTY INSURANCE: Neither his promise to reduce the cost of windstorm insurance nor his threat to sue property insurance companies got much traction this year. The second year without a major hurricane helped moderate and reduce rates, and 40 private insurers have taken thousands of policies out of Citizens, the state-run insurer. But the market is still unstable, and the state doesn’t
have the money to cover Citizens’ costs if a major hurricane hits.
    (-) GAMBLING: A negotiated compact to allow slot machines and table games at seven Seminole Tribe casinos led to a successful lawsuit by the Legislature and the most conspicuous policy failure so far. Crist will now seek legislative approval in March, but the state missed out on collecting $100 million from the Indians last year. 
(-) TAXES: Property taxes didn’t ‘‘drop like a rock” as he promised, but property values did; the voter-approved increase in the homestead exemption is a step forward but not the savings expected.
   (-) TRAVEL: An ill-timed, lavishly financed trade mission to Europe last June produced a torrent of criticism at home, few immediate trade wins, and partisan cries of ‘‘Empty Chair Charlie.”
   (+) HEALTH INSURANCE: After months of ramp-up, a plan to provide low-cost, bare-bones private health insurance to uninsured Floridians got off the ground in 2009. The Cover Florida plan has the potential to help some of the four million uninsured, but its launch is slow and small, and critics say it doesn’t offer enough coverage with for the greatest need.

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Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics,

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