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Archive for the ‘stimulus’ Category

Shovel un-ready: biggest stimulus projects deliver less than 20 percent of promised jobs in Palm Beach County

Sunday, July 24th, 2011 by George Bennett

"Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected," Obama said in June.

More than two years after Congress approved a $787 billion stimulus bill to create jobs, the largest stimulus-funded projects in Palm Beach County have created less than 20 percent of the jobs once promised, The Palm Beach Post‘s Charles Elmore reports today.

Some of the projects have been delayed and might bring employment in the future.

But a completed Tequesta Bridge replacement project, which wrapped up in December after getting $2.7 million in stimulus money, delivered only 22 jobs rather than the 123 projected. Similarly, a Forest Hill Boulevard resurfacing in Wellington that got $5.2 million in stimulus money generated only 32 of 121 projected jobs. And a just-completed Military Trail resurfacing south of Lake Worth Road got $6.9 million from the stimulus for 15 full-time jobs rather than the 121 envisioned.

Read The Post‘s analysis here.

Stimulus critic Jennifer Carroll cuts ribbon at Delray project that got stimulus money

Monday, May 23rd, 2011 by George Bennett

DELRAY BEACH -- Mayor Woodie McDuffie, Vice Mayor Angeleta Gray, Auburn Communities CEO Brian Hinners, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and City Commissioner Adam Frankel at Friday's ribbon-cutting for Village at Delray, which got $7.3 million in stimulus money.

Gov. Rick Scott has been a frequent critic of the $787 billion federal stimulus program and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has been critical as well. But Carroll was in Delray Beach Friday to cut the ribbon on an affordable housing project that received $7.3 million in stimulus financing.

Read Carroll’s comments on it in this week’s Politics column, along with Mayor Woodie McDuffie‘s mixed feelings about the stimulus.

Also in the Politics column, find out which former Republican officeholder recently became a Democrat and where to catch GOP Senate candidates this week without leaving the 561 area code.

McCollum blames teachers for Fla losing out on federal education funds

Monday, March 29th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum blamed the teachers’ union for Florida’s failure to win out on the first round of federal “Race to the Top” education funds.

The Florida Education Association, that opposed the stimulus funds, is “now responsible for the loss of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for Sunshine State students, teachers and schools,” McCollum campaign manager Matt Williams said in a press release.

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Education that Florida was not selected as a first round winner of the Race to the Top competition is a disappointing reminder the unions will continue to put the interests of bureaucracy over the best interests of Florida’s children,” Williams accuses.

Sen. John Thrasher, who also serves as the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, joined in the teacher-bashing chorus although Gov. Charlie Crist said he remained hopeful that the state could ultimately win some of the $4 billion in federal funds.

House, Senate leaders demand balanced federal budget

Monday, March 1st, 2010 by Dara Kam

After taking billions of dollars in federal economic stimulus money to balance the state budget last year, Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul along with other GOP lawmakers are demanding that the federal government balance its budget to put an end to the escalating federal deficit now surpassing $12 trillion.

“Unless something is done with Washington’s irresponsible fiscal behavior, Florida’s economy will drown in debt,” Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said at a press conference this morning.

Atwater and his cadre want the feds to balance the nation’s budget as Florida lawmakers are constitutionally required to do in the Sunshine State.

But that didn’t stop the legislature under Atwater and Cretul from accepting at least $12 billion in federal stimulus money – more than $3 billion used to balance this year’s Florida budget and nearly another $6 billion plugged into next year’s. That money helped add to the nation’s rising debt.

“It’s a gaping inconsistency to take that money happily to fill giant holes in our budget and then turn around and criticize the very people who gave you the cash,” said Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota.

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is sponsoring a joint resolution that, if passed by two-thirds of the Florida legislature, would have the state joining 19 other states asking Congress to convene an amendments convention to propose a constitutional amendment requiring the balanced budget and limit federal lawmakers’ ability to pass mandated spending down to the states.

But Florida lawmakers have done the same thing to local governments over the past decade, forcing them to take up a large share of education spending by passing down mandates and making counties pick up the tab for other items.

Congress would have to call the amendments convention if 34 states make the request. Passage of the constitutional amendment would require ratification by three-fourths, or 38, of the states.

Gambling in the Glades?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 by Jennifer Sorentrue

Fresh off vacation, Palm Beach County Commission Chairman Burt Aaronson said a casino might be just the boost the embattled Glades region needs.

“It is something to think about,” he said.

Aaronson, a cruise maven and tourism booster, also said the county should do more to help bring slots to the Palm Beach Kennel Club. The club, he said, has been at a “disadvantage” since state lawmakers allowed Broward’s parimutuel facilities to have slots. (more…)

Stimulus update: “saved or created” jobs tough to track as region’s unemployment climbs by 17,000

Sunday, November 29th, 2009 by George Bennett

Our Adam Playford tracks stimulus spending in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast and notes that “nine months after the stimulus was passed, little is clear about what good it has done locally.”

Amid murky and confusing reports on the stimulus and its effects, at least one jobs number is fairly concrete: Unemployment in the region increased by about 17,000 to nearly 100,000 between February and September.

Crist on stimulus: ‘I think it’s pretty clear I supported the concept’

Thursday, November 12th, 2009 by George Bennett

Obama, Crist at Fort Myers stimulus lovefest

Obama, Crist at Fort Myers stimulus lovefest

JUPITER — Gov. Charlie Crist today defended the “concept” of the $787 billion federal economic stimulus bill, saying it has saved about 20,000 teaching jobs in the state, but said he would have supported a “different form” of the legislation if he had been in the U.S. Senate.

Crist’s stimulus stance has been a hot issue in his Republican Senate primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Crist enraged conservatives in February when he stood with President Obama at a pro-stimulus rally in Fort Myers. But Crist recently told CNN “I didn’t endorse it. I didn’t even have a vote on the darned thing. But I understood that it was going to pass and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians.”

Today, after an appearance at a joint meeting of the state Board of Education and the Board of Governors for the state’s higher education system, Crist was asked about his position on the stimulus.


Florida stimulus chief says it’s too soon to tell if state will get the 207,000 jobs Obama touted

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 by George Bennett

When President Obama last visited Florida in February, the White House said passage of a $787 billion stimulus bill would create 207,000 jobs in the state over the next two years.

Today, with Obama back in the state to tout “smart grid” energy grants and their job-creating benefits, Florida’s workforce is about 169,600 employees smaller than it was in February.

Florida’s workforce was 7,503,400 jobs in February and slipped to 7,333,800 in September, according to the state’s Agency for Workforce Innovation.

The employment picture would be worse without the federal money, said Don Winstead, Florida’s top stimulus adviser. And Winstead says it’s too soon to judge the effectiveness of the stimulus.


Obama to unveil $3.4 billion in “smart grid” grants today in Florida, including $200 million to FPL

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 by George Bennett

Obama will visit this solar facility in DeSoto County today

Obama will visit this solar facility in DeSoto County today

ARCADIA — Using a large Florida Power & Light solar energy facility outside this small town as a backdrop, President Obama today will announce $3.4 billion in federal grants to 100 different “smart grid” energy projects around the U.S.

The Obama administration says the grants, which are part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package approved this year, will create or save “tens of thousands” of jobs while making the nation’s electricity network more reliable and efficient and more compatible with renewable energy sources.

FPL is getting a $200 million grant for its program of technological upgrades that include installing more than 2.6 million “smart meters” in homes to provide more detailed consumption information to customers and enable them to reduce energy use and cut their bills.

Obama will tour FPL’s $152 million Next Generation Solar Energy Center, billed as the largest solar farm of its kind with 90,000 photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight to energy on 180 acres in DeSoto County. The solar center produces 25 megawatts of power, or enough to supply about 3,000 homes. By comparison, FPL’s gas- and oil-fired plant in Riviera Beach plant provides energy for 190,000 homes.


Klein unveils stimulus map, wants public to help monitor spending

Friday, September 18th, 2009 by George Bennett



U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, has put an interactive map highlighting federal stimulus projects on his congressional homepage as a way for citizens to track spending in Klein’s Palm Beach-Broward District 22.

Klein said he wants constituents who click on specific projects to tell him if they aren’t doing what they are supposed to do.

“We want to make sure that our local people…can see what’s going on in their local community and can be part of the eyes and ears to make sure this money is being spent correctly,” Klein said today in an appearance at the West Palm Beach Tri-Rail station, where he touted a $13.6 million federal expenditure to buy four new locomotives and make other transit improvements.

Said Klein, who voted for the $787 billion stimulus bill: “If the money’s doing its job and creating jobs and creating benefit in our community, I’m all for it. And if we find that it’s not being spent, or its being spent on anything other than creating jobs, we need to cancel it, pull it back and find a better way to support our local community.”

Florida unemployment holds steady

Friday, August 21st, 2009 by Dara Kam

Florida’s jobless rate remained at 10.7 percent in July, 1.3 percent points higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, the Agency for Workforce Innovation reported today.

The unemployment rate in June and July is the highest in the past 34 years. In October 1975, the jobless rate was 11 percent.

The rate remained steady although the state has already spent more than $944 million of federal stimulus money on unemployment benefits and resources.

Rubio marks half-year anniversary of Crist-Obama stimulus rally

Monday, August 10th, 2009 by George Bennett

In case Republican primary voters have forgotten that Gov. Charlie Crist stood with Democratic President Obama in Fort Myers to promote a $787 billion Democratic stimulus package, Crist’s GOP Senate primary rival Marco Rubio notes that today is the half-year anniversary of the event.

Rubio plans to campaign in Fort Myers and Naples today “to highlight the stimulus’ failure to stimulate Florida’s economy, to address the culture of reckless spending in Washington and to discuss solutions he will pursue in the U.S. Senate to control federal spending.”

State GOP “impotent,” former chairman says

Friday, July 24th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Infighting within the state GOP has weakened the party so badly that it is verging on irrelevant, a former party chairman says — despite its overwhelming dominance in the legislature and its decade-long lock on the governor’s office.

Other Republican leaders charge that current party Chairman Jim Greer and, by default, Gov. Charlie Crist are out of sync with what grass-roots Republicans want.

“It would be hard to imagine us being any more impotent than we appear to be right at this point,” said former state Republican Chairman Tom Slade, who headed the party from 1993 to 1999. That was a period when the GOP took over the state House and Senate and sent Jeb Bush to the governor’s mansion.

Greer flexed his political muscles this year when he tried to use a parliamentary procedure to hamper former state House Speaker Marco Rubio’s candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez. Crist had jumped into the Senate race in May, garnering Greer’s support immediately.

That transformed what had been a whisper campaign against Greer into public criticism from county leaders and others throughout the state, who said the chairman had gone too far.

Rubio later characterized the Senate GOP primary as a battle for the “heart and soul” of the Republican Party in Florida.

But Greer, hand-picked by Crist, says the party is doing just fine and blames reports of its demise on a few disgruntled but vocal outliers.

“I don’t think that the party has anywhere near the problems that some are promoting in the state. In fact, I think this party in Florida is very strong and I see it each and every day,” Greer said in a telephone interview.


Crist weighs in on Acreage cancer, Obamacare, stimulus

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 by George Bennett

PALM BEACH GARDENS — Gov. Charlie Crist, attending a biosciences powwow at Palm Beach Community College this morning, said he’s aware of the concerns of residents of The Acreage about a potential cancer cluster in their community.



“I am aware of it and naturally I’m concerned about it,” Crist said in response to a question from reporters. He noted the state Department of Health is looking into the matter.

After Acreage residents tallied 46 cases of people with malignant or benign brain tumors or cysts in the brain in three zip codes (33470, 33412 and 33411), Sen. Bill Nelson held a public forum and DOH said it will determine by next month whether the incidence rate for the disease is greater than it should be. If the numbers exceed what would be expected, the agency could launch an investigation.

Crist, a Republican who’s running for U.S. Senate in 2010, voiced some doubts about the massive health care reform effort being pushed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.


Tea parties and trains in Majority Office

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Tax-hating Sen. Mike Haridopolos took part in a Tally “tea party” this afternoon where several hundred protesters gathered outside the Old Capitol.

Earlier in the day, Governor Charlie Crist touted April 15th – tax day – as an opportunity for Floridians to take advantage of the new federal tax break crediting first-time homebuyers with $8,000 towards the purchase of a new home.

Hours later, Haridopolos dumped on the president’s stimulus plan at the protest – one of multiple events throughout the nation – even though more than $2 billion of his chamber’s budget depends on the stimulus funds.

Earlier this week, Haridopolos released a video blasting the federal stimulus package, calling it “something we simply can’t afford.”

Haridopolos, who signed a pledge not to raise taxes when he took office, addressed the crowd briefly.

The Melbourne Republican was accompanied by Senate Majority Office staff, who brought their own tea.

The aides didn’t dump their tea bags, however.

They brought them back to the office for consumption later. After all, it is a tough budget year, even for Republicans.


Alexander defends “bait and switch” for health care

Monday, April 6th, 2009 by Dara Kam

cigThe Senate budget plan includes no boost to health care spending despite $1 billion earmarked from the federal stimulus package and an anticipated $1 billion from a proposed cigarette tax hike.

That’s raised the bipartisan hackles of Senate Health and Human Services budget committee members, including Chairman Durell Peaden, who phoned in his complaints on Friday to Gov. Charlie Crist.

“You want it in oral communication or blood pressure readings?” Peaden, R-Crestview, said of his disappointment.

Peaden said he has no clue where the money meant for health care is going.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said.

Part of the stimulus money is going to pay for programs for the medically needy and to accommodate increases in the Medicaid caseload, as required to get the federal stimulus money.

But nearly $800 million of the stimulus money is going to be used for non-health care programs and replaced with money a buck-a-pack cigarette tax proposal — if it passes.

Either way, the buck-a-pack cigarette tax proposal will generate $1 billion to offset the more than $1.3 billion the state now pays for tobacco-related illnesses, the proposals sponsor Sen. Ted Deutch said.

“This legislation will generate in excess of $1 billion in the first year. That is new revenue that will go into the health care trust fund for the purpose of funding health care,” Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said..

Sen. Nan Rich called the fund shift a “bait-and-switch” that defies the intent of the federal stimulus plan.

Fla jobless rate highest in 33 years

Friday, March 27th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Florida’s seasonably adjusted unemployment rate was 9.4 percent in February, up from 8.8 percent in January, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

That’s 1.3 percent higher than the national rate and 4.2 percent higher than a year ago.

About 500,000 Floridians currently receive unemployment benefits.

St. Lucie County’s unemployment rate climbed to 12.7 percent, nearly double from the previous year.

Read more here.

GOP state lawmakers are at odds over whether to accept $444 million in federal stimulus funds that would expand the number of unemployed workers eligible for unemployment benefits.


Guv’s agency contradicts boss

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist earlier today urged lawmakers to consider expanding the types of workers eligible for unemployment compensation so the state can draw down $444 million in federal stimulus aid to pay for the benefits.

He said that House Republican concerns that taking the money would hike businesses’ taxes long after the stimulus money dries up could be resolved by passing a bill that agrees to undo the expanded benefits after a certain length of time.

But within hours, staff at the Agency for Workforce Innovation, which handles unemployment claims, released requested information cautioning against taking the money.


Crist to House GOP: Take the stimulus money! You’re lawmakers!

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist encouraged House Republicans to take $444 million in federal stimulus money that would give 40,000 more jobless workers unemployment benefits.

House Majority Leader Adam Hasner is balking at taking the money because he believes that it would cause businesses’ unemployment taxes to go up after the stimulus money dries up.

But a national employment group found that businesses’ taxes would go up anyway and taking the money would actually be a saving for them in the long run.

Crist said he’s sympathetic to the House’s worries about the impact on businesses.

But, he went on: “They’re lawmakers though. Maybe they could come up with a law that would say we’ll take the stimulus…for x amount of years and not have to continue and then keep the rates down.”

Extra $25 now coming to jobless

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Jobless Floridians will start getting an extra $25 per week in their unemployment checks, Gov. Charlie Crist announced today.

“We are at a high-water mark, if you will, as it relates to unemployment in the state – about a 16-year high,” Crist told reporters today. “It’s important to extend unemployment benefits as much as we possibly can to help people get through this tough time.”

The extra dough is part of a $345 million to unemployment benefits included in the federal stimulus package. The weekly boost will continue through next July for claims filed before December of this year.

The increase went into effect Feb. 22, and those receiving unemployment benefits at that time or later will also receive a retroactive payment without having to apply for it.

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