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Scott wants face-to-face with Obama on flood insurance

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott weighed into the congressional fight over federal flood insurance Wednesday, urging President Obama to delay the rising rates facing thousands of Floridians.

In a letter to the White House, Scott said the Obama administration has enacted similar slowdowns with the Affordable Care Act.

“Why is keeping Floridians in their homes less important?” Scott said, in a generally snarky letter in which he requested a sit-down with the president.

“We need you to take immediate action to undo the harmful effects of this law before it cripples Florida’s real-estate market and threatens our state’s economic momentum,” Scott added.  “I am making myself available to meet with you on this critical issue at your earliest convenience. Our state cannot wait.”

Hudson tells Congress expanding Medicaid a “flawed approach”

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 by John Kennedy

With some advocates pushing the Republican-led Legislature to revisit expanding Medicaid, the House’s health care budget chairman testified Wednesday before Congress that the idea represents a “flawed approach.”

Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, was among officials from several states who spoke on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and concerns it is raising.

Hudson also defended the Florida House’s rejection earlier this year of expanding Medicaid to cover those who may not be able to afford health insurance even under so-called ObamaCare.

“Fundamentally, I believe the Medicaid expansion is a flawed approach to reduce the number of uninsured residents in Florida,” Hudson told a joint meeting of two U.S. House committees.

“Rather than temporary assistance targeted to our most vulnerable residents, the optional Medicaid expansion would have created a new entitlement for able-bodied, working age adults without children,” he added.

Florida has about 4 million uninsured, one of the largest populations in the nation. About 1.1 million were expected to be able to gain coverage — financed totally by the federal government for the first three years — under the Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

“Expanding Medicaid to more than a million new individuals would undoubtedly make access problems worse,” Hudson testified.  “And those who would suffer most would be our most vulnerable residents, including our elderly population and those with disabilities. They would be forced to compete with able-bodied adults for a limited number of appointments.”

Scott takes case against navigators to Congress

Monday, September 16th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged congressional leaders Monday to review federal privacy rules as “navigators” fan out across the state to educate consumers about new health coverage options under the Affordable Care Act.

Scott, who fought the federal law even before it cleared Congress in 2010, acknowledged in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the measure is “now the law of the land.”

But Scott said “we are increasingly concerned about how the implementation of the law will affect Floridians.”

“I respectfully request you take immediate action by whatever means available to thoroughly review what privacy rules and safeguards are in place to protect Americans’ personal information, both when they consult with “navigators” and when their information is entered into the federal data hub,” Scott said in his letter.

Scott and other opponents of the law have repeatedly questioned whether navigators will know enough to direct people toward the appropriate insurance coverage and whether they can be trusted with the personal data shared by consumers seeking help.

Federal health and human services officials have said background checks are being conducted on workers hired as navigators and they also must agree to follow ethics policies.

Scott rips Congress for student loan hike

Monday, July 1st, 2013 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott ripped Congress for allowing interest rates on some federal student loans to double Monday, saying it was “irresponsible” for lawmakers to go on July 4 recess without reaching a compromise.

“Doubling the interest rate on federal college loans effectively kills the chance for many Florida families to live the American Dream,” Scott said. “This is equivalent to a $936 tax on Florida families per loan each year.

He added, “As I call for Florida’s colleges and universities to hold the line on tuition, Washington bureaucrats must come back to work together on behalf of Florida’s families and students.”

About 7.4 million university students effectively saw rates on their federal Stafford loans jump to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent on Monday, after the Senate was unable to reach agreement on extending the lower rate.  The Obama administration and most Democrats had been expecting more fiscally conservative Republican leaders to abandon the student loan standoff had they had last year, when they agreed to continue 3.4 percent rate another year.

The interest rate difference will add an extra $2,600 cost per-student, analysts said. About one-quarter of all federal student loans are affected.

Although Scott allowed tuition to climb in Florida his first two years as governor, this spring he vetoed a 3 percent college and university tuition hike approved by state lawmakers. He then lobbied schools and the State University System’s Board of Governors to work to reject a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase that automatically kicked in, although only Florida Atlantic University and Florida Gulf Coast University agreed to offset the boost.

“Florida’s students and families now face higher education costs because Washington bureaucrats were unable to work together on behalf of America’s students,” Scott said. “Fewer students will now be able to attend college and get jobs that require
degrees because Washington chose politics over our families.”

Lawmakers, however, have said they can return the interest rates to 3.4 percent when they  return after the July 4 holiday. The Republican-led House passed a bill before leaving town tying  student loan interest rates to the financial markets, but the Democratic-controlled Senate was ensnared in a procedural matter that halted action.

A study released last year showed 49 percent of Florida public university graduates owed money when they finished school.

The average $21,184 debt for Florida students in 2010 was below the $25,250 national average, according to the Project on Student Debt by the Institute for College Access & Success.

Florida ranked 42nd among states in the percentage of students graduating with debt.


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New Year’s resolution for new congressional Dems? Get more campaign cash

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 by John Kennedy

With 2013 dawning, soon-to-be-sworn-in U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Lois Frankel, whose battleground districts include parts of Palm Beach County, have just completed a fund-raising rush before the ball fell at midnight last night.

It’s all part of an attempt by the two newly elected Democrats to replenish campaign accounts and look like they have some influential backing as they enter Congress. Most of all, brandishing a robust bank book as of the Dec. 31 fund-raising deadline may help ward-off possible challengers in 2014.

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Nelson begins airing pre-primary ads

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 by John Kennedy

After weeks of getting slammed on Florida TV in opposition ads, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will begin airing his own ‘getting-to-know-you’ spots Thursday across the state — in advance of the Aug. 14 primary.

Nelson’s campaign said the two-term Democrat has been on the receiving end of more than $10 million in critical advertising this summer, the bulk of it coming from Crossroads GPS, the political commitee allied with Karl Rove, the former adviser to President George W. Bush.

“It’s time the people of Florida started getting the truth,” said Nelson Campaign Manager Pete Mitchell. The campaign declined to elaborate on other details of the ad buy.

Nelson’s 30-second spot includes some fuzzy black-and-white photos from the lawmaker’s boyhood before segueing into his support for environmental issues, Medicare and education. It concludes with “Bill Nelson, Fighting for Florida.  Always has.  Always will.”

Nelson, who has held office in Florida almost continuously the past 40 years, faces self-styled opponent Glenn Burkett, a health care consultant, in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary. Nelson has $10 million cash-on-hand for his re-election campaign and the ad buy is likely a defensive move to remind supporters to come out for him in what is certain to be a low-turnout summer primary.

Plenty more ads will air this fall, when Nelson is expected to face Republican Connie Mack in one of the nation’s most-watched Senate races. Mack is looking to link Nelson with Obama as a pair of “lockstep liberals.” The Democratic senator is cautious about engaging Mack — yet.

Indeed, even with a no-sweat primary currently facing him, Nelson has been wary of saying too much.

Asked recently by the Palm Beach Post if his pre-Aug. 14 strategy would include a round of statewide television advertising to reintroduce himself to voters, Nelson ducked. “That’s campaign strategy, and I can’t telegraph that to you or my opponent,” Nelson said.

Court rules against Democrats in congressional redistricting

Monday, April 30th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Florida Democrats were dealt another blow in redistricting Monday when a Leon Circuit Court judge denied their bid to have the 27-seat congressional plan declared invalid.

The ruling by Judge Terry Lewis comes after the Florida Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Republican-ruled Legislature’s map for redrawing Senate boundaries. Democrats and allied organizations also had sought to have the Senate plan ruled unconstitutional for favoring incumbent Republicans and hurting minority voters.

Earlier in the day Monday, the House also announced that the U.S. Justice Department had concluded its review of the House, Senate and congressional maps and determined that they complied with the Voting Rights Act. The preclearance determination is a key step in assuring that the redistricting plans will be in place for candidate qualifying, June 4-8.

Democrats did not immediately respond to the actions. But Republicans cast the federal approval as effectively the end of the redistricting fight.

“Today’s preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice signifies the final approval of the state legislative and congressional maps passed by the Florida legislature,” said House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. “I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues and all of the input we received from Floridians throughout the process.  With their help, we were able to draw fair and compact maps that puts the interests of Floridians over the interests of politicians.”

Judge schedules trial on congressional redistricting

Friday, March 16th, 2012 by John Kennedy

A Leon County Circuit judge said Friday that he is ready to begin trial April 16 on whether the Legislature’s plan for redrawing state congressional districts is unconstitutional.

Judge Terry Lewis did not directly dismiss the state Senate’s motion to delay action on legal challenges until after the November elections.  But asked following the half-hour hearing whether prospects for a post-election delay was unlikely, Senate attorney Peter Dunbar said, it “might be.”

“At a time that you could appropriately get there, we would like to have certainty in our election process,” Dunbar said. “This is not about the House, or the Senate or the Department of State.  This is about 18 million Floridians and the certainty for them to participate in the electoral process.”

The Florida Democratic Party, League of Women Voters, La Raza and Common Cause-Florida filed their lawsuit in February, immediately after the Legislature approved new congressional boundaries.  The state Supreme Court has since upheld the Legislature’s plan for redrawing House seats, but rejected the Senate’s remapping as designed to protect incumbents and preserve Republican control of that chamber.

A 15-day special session to redraw the Senate plan began Wednesday.

In Friday’s half-hour hearing, Lewis acknowledged that it would prove difficult to complete a trial quickly, without interfering with candidate qualifying scheduled for June 4-8. But Lewis said he would likely borrow computer software used by the Supreme Court in developing its ruling, while also seeking to narrow the range of issues in dispute between the sides. 

 Lewis said working toward a speedy resolution was necessary.

“If I were running for office right now, I’d be concerned,” Lewis said.


Fla Dem chief hails “historic rejection” of Senate redistricting plan

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith disputed Tuesday the claim by Senate Republican leaders that the plan for redrawing the chamber’s 40 districts was mostly approved by the state Supreme Court.

The court last week ruled eight of the districts were invalid, including two seats spanning Broward and Palm Beach counties. Justices also had “concerns” with another two districts which divide the city of Lakeland.

Echoing an earlier comment from Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said Monday that means, “three-fourths of the current plan has been deemed valid.”

Not so fast, Smith said.

“An entire redrawing of a Senate map is required,” Smith said, calling last week’s ruling by justices an “historic rejection” of the Legislature’s Senate plan.

Because the boundaries cited by the court are contiguous to other districts, it’s impossible to just make a few fixes, as Smith said Republicans are trying to cast the approach to a special session which begins Wednesday.

The court’s 233-page ruling provides, “enough instruction by the court for the Legislature to draw a map that will pass muster,” Smith said. “But there is no such thing as…(just) tweak the map.”

Smith also said he was pleased with the Supreme Court’s adherence to standards for compact districts and not drawing lines that favor a party or incumbents. These new provisions were included in the state constitution by voters in 2010, who approved Amendments 5 and 6.

While Amendment 5, which controlled legislative redistricting, was applied by justices, Smith said he is optimistic a Leon County Circuit Court will follow the same standard in reviewing the Legislature’s plan for redrawing congressional districts. Florida Democrats and allied organizations have sued to overturn that plan, based on the demands of Amendment 6, which covered congressional redistricting.

Smith also said that party leaders are still considering further action against the House redistricting plan, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. Smith said it’s possible legal challenges to a select number of districts would be filed in lower courts by Democrats.

Smith, meanwhile, acknowledged that he’s been fielding phone calls from Senate Democrats whose districts also could be dramatically redrawn in coming days.

Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, currently serves a heavily minority district that snakes from Broward County through Palm Beach County, mostly clinging to the Interstate-95 corridor. Smith’s district, and that of a parallel coastal district held by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, were declared invalid by the court.

Under redrawn maps, it’s possible that Smith’s district change to become primarily rooted in far western Palm Beach County, while reaching in to include mostly black voters in Mangonia Park, Riviera Beach, and parts of  West Palm Beach. Bogdanoff’s district, meanwhile, looks potentially destined to be confined to Broward County — and turn Democratic-leaning.

“I think you’re going to see a very different Senate makeup when Palm Beach and Broward districts are redrawn,” Smith said. 



Look who’s talking: Scott says he’s spoken with congressional members about redistricting plan

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott acknowledged Tuesday that he’s been lobbied by Florida members of Congress on the redistricting plan expected to be sent his way soon.

But the Republican governor didn’t want to mention any names.

“Oh, I don’t think anybody wants me to talk about any of those conversations,” Scott said, when asked if U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, was among those contacting him.

West last week announced that he would leave his battleground congressional district, straddling Palm Beach and Broward counties, to run this year in a proposed new district, which includes Martin and St. Lucie counties, and part of Palm Beach.

West’s decision emerged as part of a GOP three-step dance – touched off by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, who said he’d run in a newly drawn, mostly rural and interior Florida district.

Former House majority leader Adam Hasner of Boca Raton completed the moves by announcing he was abandoning his U.S. Senate run to run in the district that West was exiting.

House and Senate redistricting leaders say they have kept their distance from members of Congress, mostly in an effort to comply with constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2010, which ban new electoral boundaries from favoring incumbents or parties.

Scott, though, said at least some in Florida’s delegation have reached out directly to the executive office. While Scott isn’ authorized to act on legislative maps, he can veto the congressional plan.

“I’ll review it when I get it,” Scott said of the congressional proposal. “I’ve had a few phone calls from some people that have had questions about it. My response is, ‘send me what your proposal is, and I’ll review it at the time.’

Senate Reapportionment Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said Scott’s contacts with unnamed members of Congress doesn’t strike him as out of line — or unconstitutional.

“Any citizen is entitled to petition their government for the redress of grievances,” Gaetz said.

An early redistricting deal: House to follow Senate approach on maps

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 by John Kennedy

House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has reached an accord with Senate counterpart Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, on redrawing political boundaries for the Legislature.

The Senate this week unveiled plans only for the Senate and Congress. And the House next week will follow suit with proposals that rework lines only for Florida’s congressional seats and the House.

 In other words, the House will accept senators’ proposals for redrawing their own boundaries — and the House expects the Senate to accept its proposal for reshaping those districts. Only the state’s congressional lines would be subject to competing plans from the two chambers, under this approach.

Weatherford made the deal known Friday in a letter to members of the House’s redistricting panels. The House proposals are slated to be showcased Tuesday.

Frankel taunts West: ‘don’t cut and run’

Thursday, December 1st, 2011 by John Kennedy

Democratic challenger Lois Frankel wasted little time Thursday challenging speculation that U.S. Rep. Allen West could head north — out of a redrawn, Democratic-leaning district and into a primary fight with fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney.

West’s chief of staff, Jonathan Blyth, downplayed talk Wednesday among Republican consultants that his boss was looking for friendlier turf, with the Plantation congressman eyeing the political backyard of Rooney, who lives in Tequesta.

Frankel, though, seized on the chatter, serving up some political trash talk.

“It looks like Mr. West is afraid of a real fight, which is what he will get when he faces me in a general election,” said Frankel, who faces a Democratic primary contest with Broward County accountant Patrick Murphy. “Mr. West: don’t cut and run…stay and fight. I am not retreating to anywhere. I am staying right here.”

 Blyth later fired back at Frankel.

“Congressman West is a 22- year veteran of the U.S. Army who served in real combat against enemies of our nation,” Blyth said. “Lt. Colonel West has never cut and run protecting and defending citizens of our nation.”


Mack slaps Nelson as one of Obama’s ‘lockstep liberals’

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Tarring Democratic opponent Bill Nelson as one of President Obama’s “lockstep liberals”, Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack said Tuesday that Floridians are looking for a change in the U.S. Senate.

“It’s pretty clear to me that this country, our country, is moving in the wrong directions,” Mack said in a conference call with reporters from his Fort Myers hometown.

Mack made his candidacy official Monday night in an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox-TV show. Mack, first elected to Congress in 2004, is the fifth Republican in the race to unseat Nelson, who is seeking his third term.

Mack is looking to win the same seat held by his father and namesake, former Republican U.S. Sen. Connie Mack. His dad defeated Democrat Buddy MacKay in 1988 after taunting him with the phrase, “Hey Buddy, you’re liberal.” And on Tuesday, the political apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

“Bill Nelson has become one of Barack Obama’s leading guys in the United States Senate,” Mack said, deriding his Democratic rival for supporting the president’s push on health care, stimulus spending, and energy cap-and-trade legislation.

Nelson is among the “lockstep liberals in Washington” the president depends on to advance his agenda, Mack said. The Republican contender, however, disputed that he, like his father, is looking to win by demonizing liberals.

“It’s not an attempt to demonize,” Mack said. “It’s to point out the differences.”

When those close to Mack confirmed a few weeks ago that he was planning to enter the race, the congressman immediately became the favorite, according to polls.

 A Quinnipiac University survey earlier this month showed Mack with a formidable lead over the four Republicans already in the race. A Rasmussen Reports poll also showed Mack could be trouble for Nelson, with the congressman favored by 43 percent of voters to 39 percent for the Democrat. The survey of 500 likely voters had a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percent.

Mack topping Nelson in latest poll

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Republican Connie Mack is shaping up as big trouble — not only for his fellow GOP contenders for the U.S. Senate nomination, but two-term Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, a poll shows Friday.

Mack, a Cape Coral congressman, is the favorite of 43 percent of Florida voters, to 39 percent for Nelson, according to the survey of 500 likely voters conducted Thursday by Rasmussen Reports. The poll has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percent.

The survey also shows Nelson holding comfortable leads over other Republican contenders, former U.S. Senate-appointee George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Mack holding a formidable lead over the four GOP candidates already in the U.S. Senate race.

Mack’s father, who shares the same name, represented Florida in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to his retirement in 2001, when he was succeeded by Nelson.

Poll shows Obama winning war of words on debt ceiling

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Florida congressional Democrats and Republican have been sparring over who to blame if the standoff over raising the debt ceiling leads to a government default.

But a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows President Obama may be winning the war of words.

The survey of 2,311 voters across the nation, shows:

*Voters will blame Republicans over Obama 48 – 34 percent if the debt limit is not raised;

* Voters say 67 – 25 percent that an agreement to raise the debt ceiling should include tax hikes for the wealthy and corporations, not just spending cuts;

* Voters say 45 – 37 percent that Obama’s proposals to raise revenues are “closing loopholes,” rather than “tax hikes.”

And who do voters blame for the nation’s lousy economy? 

“”Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy, but by 2-1 they pin the blame on former President George W. Bush rather than Obama, who is now more than 60 percent through his term of office,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Frankel’s quarterly cash keeps pace with Democratic rival

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel said Wednesday that she collected $440,000 for her congressional campaign over the past three months, keeping pace with Democratic rival Patrick Murphy, who earlier reported pulling in $450,000.

First-term Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West of Plantation, who Frankel and Murphy are targeting, eclipsed his rivals by collected $1.5 million during the year’s second quarter.

“We are working hard to make sure we have the resources necessary to communicated our message to voters in South Florida and send Congressman Allen West packing,” Frankel said.

West’s campaign said his latest round of fund-raising reflects cash came from 23,500 contributors — what it took as a sign of widespread support. Frankel, too, pointed to the scope of her donations, saying 90 percent came from Florida, with most coming from Palm Beach and Broward counties, which the 22nd district spans.

Bennett calls it quits on congressional campaign

Monday, June 13th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Term-limited state Sen. Mike Bennett abruptly ended his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor on Monday, blaming a “fire in the belly” problem and frustration with spending most of his time fund-raising.

Bennett, 66, a Bradenton Republican who doesn’t live in Castor’s Tampa-area district, announced his candidacy late last month.

 At the time, Bennett said he was prepared to move to challenge the Democratic incumbent if redistricting next year didn’t tuck him into the boundaries served by Castor.

On Monday, Bennett called it quits. 

“In all honesty, I quickly realized that the ‘fire’ I was feeling was heartburn over constant fundraising, travel and the other demands of running for federal office. Traveling the world and fishing are candidly things I’m looking forward to catching up on when my term in the Florida Senate comes to an end,” Bennett said.

Democrats try to dent Young; could Crist be in the wings?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee began airing radio ads Tuesday targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young and others in senior-heavy districts nationwide for supporting a budget proposal that could reduce Medicare spending.

Young,  80, is the longest serving Republican in Congress and represents Pinellas County. That’s also home to politician-in-waiting,  former Gov. Charlie Crist, an ex-Republican turned independent — oft-rumored to be considering becoming a Democrat. 

But in Tallahassee this week for the unveiling of his gubernatorial portrait, Crist downplayed such talk.

“I’ve heard a lot of that speculation,” Crist said of the party-switch scenario. But I’m paying all my attention to (wife) Carole and the rest of my family. And working hard for the people at (Orlando-based trial lawyer firm) Morgan & Morgan. I’m enjoying being an independent, it’s a great place to be.”

Crist also seemed to distance himself from running against Young, or looking to succeed him should the veteran congressman choose to retire. Asked if he might be on the 2012 ballot, Crist replied, “I doubt it.”

Scott gives himself attaboy for settling D.C. budget crisis

Monday, April 11th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott is taking some credit for the last-minute federal budget deal — saying the $2.4 billion in high-speed rail money he blocked from coming to Florida helped settle the standoff between President Obama and Republicans in Congress.

“I am proud to have brought this waste to the attention of those in Washington,” Scott said Monday in a statement issued by his press office.  “These funds should either be returned to taxpayers as tax cuts or applied to reducing the burden that our national debt is passing to future generations.”

If anybody had any lingering questions about how Scott feels about the high-speed rail project, his first reference to the project labeled it a “boondoggle.”

Survey: Floridians want dollars for Everglades

Monday, February 28th, 2011 by John Kennedy

With environmental spending under fire in Tallahassee and Washington, a survey Monday showed two-thirds of Floridians support Everglades restoration, with a majority also opposed to reducing dollars flowing to the effort.

The Everglades Foundation released the survey, saying it supports the organization’s push for state lawmakers to steer clear of Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to reduce restoration funding from $50 million to $17 million. Scott also wants water managers, including the South Florida Water Management District, to reduce property taxes by 25 percent, which environmentalists say could further drain dollars needed for Everglades work.

“Our message to the governor is that he can partner with the conservation community to create jobs and protect our water supply at the same time,” said Kirk Fordham, the foundation’s chief executive officer. “If we want to grow that supply of fresh water, the only solution out there is Everglades restoration.”

President Obama’s budget blueprint increases spending on restoration. But the Republican-led U.S. House has proposed sharp cuts in environmental programs and funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for much of the Everglades work.

The Everglades survey was conducted by the Tarrance Group, which does polling for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, other Republican senators, and GOP members of the Florida congressional delegation.

The survey showed that 84 percent of voters rank maintaining Florida’s fresh water drinking supply as “very important.”  Seventy-nine percent agreed that to attract new business and industries to the state, access to a stable water supply is necessary.

The survey of 607 voters was taken Feb. 13-14. It has a 4.1 percent margin-of-error.

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