Monday, July 24, 2006



Candidates Offer Flawed Fixes For Soaring Property Taxes
Published: Jul 23, 2006

Property taxes are increasing much faster than personal
incomes for most Floridians and solutions to the squeeze are
creating clear distinctions in the race for governor.
Republican candidates Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher are
campaigning hard against high taxes. Democrats Jim Davis and
Rod Smith agree that reforms are needed, but are wary of hasty
changes that will bring new and unpleasant side effects. Davis
and Smith are right to be cautious. Part of the problem today
is the Save Our Homes amendment voters approved in the early
1990s. It imposed an annual cap on the amount a homestead's
taxable value could increase: three percent or the inflation
rate, whichever is less. Now, homeowners who have enjoyed the
cap for years are feeling trapped. A move, even one to a
smaller house or condo, can easily cause a property tax bill
to double.


Best deal for Florida, given the options

A Senate compromise bill filed Friday may be the best defense
Florida will have against forces determined to open the
state's Gulf Coast to offshore drilling. Credit Florida Sen.
Mel Martinez for negotiating the compromise, which would
establish significant protections against offshore drilling in
the eastern Gulf. The Senate bill doesn't include all the
protection we would want, but it is superior to a
House-approved bill that would allow drilling 50 miles from
the coastline. Even if the entire U.S. coastline were open to
drilling, that would provide only a fraction of the U.S.
demand for fuel. Congress could help reduce U.S. dependence on
foreign suppliers by raising fuel-efficiency standards for
cars and encouraging alternative fuels and energy
technologies. The political reality, however, is that gasoline
and natural-gas prices are painfully high, with little
prospect of abating. So the energy industry and Congress are
focused on opening more areas to drilling, and the oil and
natural-gas deposits thought to exist in Florida's eastern
Gulf make the area a prime target. Considering the political
climate, the Senate plan is a good deal for Florida.


The Florida Times-Union
July 24, 2006

GOP needs to feed voters less apple pie, more meat

Ronald Reagan Republican voters are speaking, and the GOP
needs to start listening. On July 18, former Christian
Coalition executive director Ralph Reed was blown away by his
more moderate opponent in the Georgia Republican primary race
for lieutenant governor. Reed had hung his hat on a theme of
"faith and family values." Earlier this year, former Alabama
Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore banked on his reputation as
the "keeper of the Ten Commandments" to get elected governor.
He was pummeled in the GOP primary. In Florida, Attorney
General Charlie Crist will likely defeat longtime GOP
officeholder Tom Gallagher in their primary race to replace
Jeb Bush as governor. The able and likable Gallagher
reportedly plans to intensify his own Ralph Reed-style
campaign theme in an effort to overtake Crist, whom he trails
in the polls. That will signal the beginning of the end of
Gallagher's ultimate chances.