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Old February 11th, 2009, 05:44 AM   #241
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Thats good to hear. Especially being that stocks nosedived today.
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Old February 13th, 2009, 02:14 AM   #242
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Crist happy with stimulus plan
Reported by: Don Germaise
Email: dgermaise@abcactionnews.com
Last Update: 3:15 pm

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Governor Charlie Crist says he's pleased with a compromise federal stimulus plan although Florida likely will get less money than anticipated.

Crist's office had estimated Florida would get at least $10.4 billion, but that figure probably will be reduced because the $790 billion total in the compromise is lower than initially passed by either the House or Senate.

Crist, who appeared with President Barack Obama in Fort Myers on Tuesday to campaign for the stimulus, said Thursday he's happy because just a few months ago the cash-strapped state was looking at "no stimulus at all."

The White House estimated the stimulus plan would create 206,000 jobs in Florida, including 40,000 in greater Tampa Bay.

Congresswoman Kathy Castor told ABC Action News.com, "I'm convinced it's a great benefit to the families and businesses in the Tampa Bay area."
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/lo...Oo2XyC-0Q.cspx

========================================
Are you kidding me?! These two people have the guts to support a plan that clearly ISN'T going to work?! My "approval" rating for this governor has just dropped to 37%. It was 60% when he first took office, but I have since been bashing him for things like Amendment 1, which just hasn't worked. The Cali-emmissions thing dropped my "grade" to roughly 48%, but again, now its 37%. My trust in Kathy Castor has also dropped, from 90% to 81%.
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Old February 13th, 2009, 03:59 AM   #243
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USAA to bring 400 new jobs to Tampa

Source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/busines...icle975458.ece

USAA to bring hundreds of jobs to Tampa
James Thorner, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Feb 12, 2009 04:26 PM

USAA, the insurance and financial services company that serves millions of members of the military, plans to fill 400 new positions in Tampa.

As part of a corporate consolidation, USAA is closing its Sacramento operations and part of its Norfolk, Va., operations and moving some positions to Tampa.

Employees at the old locations will have first dibs on the Tampa jobs, but that could still leave plenty of positions to fill locally, the company said.

USAA hopes to complete the consolidation by September. The Tampa jobs will involve servicing claims and insurance policies, but spokesman Paul Berry couldn't say what they'd pay.

The announcement came as a relief to a region that's been bleeding jobs at one of the worst rates in the U.S. Unemployment reached 8.3 percent here in December, the hardest hit of any major metro area in Florida. Construction, banking and real estate have all suffered.

A Fortune 500 company with nearly $15-billion in revenue, USAA runs a campus at 17200 Commerce Park Blvd., off Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Interstate 275.

The company has enough excess space in that 500,000-square-foot building to accommodate the new hires, Berry said.
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Old February 13th, 2009, 04:26 AM   #244
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That's good news.
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Old February 13th, 2009, 04:07 PM   #245
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Stimulus Headed Florida's Way

By BILLY HOUSE and CATHERINE DOLINSKI

bhouse@tampatrib.com cdolinski@tampatrib.com

Published: February 13, 2009

Updated: 07:15 am

WASHINGTON - Although many details remained unclear Thursday night, early estimates are that Florida could get at least $10 billion from the $789 billion economic stimulus package agreed on by the U.S. House and Senate.

That money includes an added $4.3 billion over two years in federal Medicaid funding and about $1.95 billion toward helping the cash-strapped state address budget shortfalls.

That was enough Thursday for GOP Gov. Charlie Crist and Tampa Democrat Rep. Kathy Castor to applaud the package of spending increases and tax relief. The House was preparing for a final vote on the legislation as early as today, and the Senate soon will follow suit.

"You know, what we were looking at just a few months ago was no stimulus at all. And so, if you compare where we were to where we are now, I'm very, very pleased for my fellow Floridians for that," Crist said.

Florida Republicans Take Aim

There was criticism from Florida Republicans in Congress, none of whom voted for the initial Senate or House versions of the bill.

Some, including Sen. Mel Martinez, said the bill does little to address the state's housing and unemployment crisis, which he termed Florida's big economic concerns.

By the end of the day, Martinez was taking swipes at Crist on the U.S. Senate floor, saying, "My governor would like to see this package pass.

"But I don't know that my governor understands all the details in this package. ... At the end of the day, there's not enough largesse that can come to Florida from the federal government to fill the coffer for state needs," Martinez said.

Castor acknowledged that many of the details "are still rolling out," but she said the bill represents "great news for Florida families, especially those in our hard-hit Tampa Bay area."

Among the biggest boosts: Florida is expected to get $4.3 billion over two years in federal Medicaid matching money.

"There are no earmarks in the bill, but this is the granddaddy of all earmarks for Florida," Castor said.

She and Crist downplayed what has loomed as one potential snag for Florida to qualify for a major education funding category that could send well over $1.95 billion more to the state.

Under the House-Senate accord, as it appears in draft form, Florida technically does not qualify for a share of a $53.4 billion pot of money - mostly for education needs - to help states such as Florida that are facing huge budget deficits.

That's because a state must be funding K-12 and higher education at no less than 2006 levels. States that are not would forfeit their share of the money to other states.

Florida falls $600 million short on that count because it has 30,000 fewer students than in 2006, the biggest drop in public enrollment in the state's history.

"It looks like Florida would have to apply for a waiver from the education secretary," said Ken Lundberg, a Martinez spokesman.

Crist said he is concerned about that but optimistic. "I'm concerned about everything, ... but I think we have a very good relationship with this new administration in Washington, and if a waiver might be necessary, I think we would be successful," he said.

Castor said she does not think getting such a waiver would be a problem.

Still, until more details are available, it isn't possible to determine what Florida could receive under that broad category of funding.

What Could Have Been

Florida would have received about $3.5 billion in that funding under the House plan, which set aside $79 billion for the category. The Senate's $838 billion bill would have set aside $39 billion, with Florida getting about $1.7 billion.

What Florida could end up with from this State Fiscal Stabilization Fund could, in the end, be closer to the lower amount the Senate bill would have yielded because some of the compromise bill's $53.4 billion actually replaces a $20 million category of funding sought by House Democrats and Obama for school repairs.

In addition, a fact sheet sent out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shows the fund apparently now would give governors less flexibility in how to use the money, which primarily is made up of $40.6 billion for school districts to help prevent layoffs, for school modernization and other purposes.

These categories were blended because GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of three Republican moderates key to getting the package passed in the Senate, objected to creating a special category for school construction.

"The state will be able to control a little bit of this money, but it's largely driven down to school districts," Castor said.

An additional $5 billion would go to states as "bonus grants" for meeting key performance measures in education; $8 billion would go to states for other "high-priority" needs such as public safety, which may include education, but not necessarily.

Martinez and Florida's other Republicans in Congress complained Thursday that there were not enough details to determine effects of the package on Florida and that they were likely to vote no on it.

"It's not creating jobs," GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis said of the plan. "It's a huge IOU handed to our children and grandchildren - throwing money against the wall and hoping something sticks.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite of Brooksville said constituents are telling her they are concerned about debt produced by the bill. "This is spending gone amok," she said.

Reporter Catherine Dolinski can be reached at (850) 222-8382. Reporter Billy House can be reached at (202) 662-7673.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/feb...ay/news-metro/
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Old February 13th, 2009, 04:10 PM   #246
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So here's how everything breaks down....

$4.3 BILLION $1.7 BIILLION $1.95 BILLION $1.45 MILLION

@tampatrib.com

Published: February 13, 2009

Updated: 12:44 am

Medicaid

An additional $4.3 billion in funding over two years for the insurance program that, in Florida, serves about 2.2 million low-income families and individuals - half of them children - as well as people with disabilities. The $4.3 billion would reflect a boost from 55.4 percent to 67.8 percent in the rate at which the federal government matches what Florida spends on Medicaid.

Transit And Highway

To be used for projects eligible under the Federal-Aid Highway Program's Surface Transportation Program. Some could also go to mass transit, or include rail and port infrastructure activities at the discretion of the states. State leaders and local officials have provided lists of projects they think are ready to be built if they can get some of the stimulus money.

State Budget Fund

This figure is less certain, but about 75 percent goes directly to local Florida school districts under existing state formulas, which can be used for preventing cutbacks and for school modernization. About 10 percent goes to the state to distribute as bonus grants for meeting key performance measures in education. The remaining 15 percent goes for other budget needs.

Education

Several other education-related categories of funding are not included in the state budget balancing fund. They include at least $624 million for Title I schools (schools with large numbers of students from struggling families). There also is $727 million in special education state grants and $105 million for Florida in Child Care & Development Block Grants.

$4.3 BILLION

$1.7 BIILLION

$1.95 BILLION

$1.45 MILLION

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/feb...on/news-metro/
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Old February 13th, 2009, 04:25 PM   #247
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Now the BIG disapointment

Yes my friends, when you look at the numbers, the stimulus is really a huge disappointment. $1.7 billion for transportation & infrastructure projects is absolutely NOTHING! Especially when you have tons of projects that need funding and too many areas to cover. My prediction on this is that Tampa Bay will be SCREWED BIG TIME because our govt simply has no plan on which projects are "ready to go". The only thing I've heard thus far is from HART, which wants to extend the streetcar and improve it's operations facility.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

Another reason why Tampa will be screwed is that the other metros will likely come first. Orlando, Miami, and Jax will, in my eyes, each get a considerable amount of funds if they have thier planning all done, leaving Tampa with whatever leftovers the stimulus can provide. All this sums up to one thing......yep, you guessed it, only the smallest projects will get funding, meaning landscaping and minor traffic improvements (like signals). So in the end, Tampa will pretty much get little to nothing at all from this.

To the state fund & education.....

$1.95 billion isn't a lot to keep Florida out of the red. However, IF the state thinks wisely, they can use what money they've got to try and improve schools and thus improve the quality of education. But again, with 50+ school districts to cover, again my prediction is that the bigger metros (Jax, Orlando, Miami) will receive the larger sums of money, leaving areas like Tampa in a vacuum.

Job creation? No, you mean wasteful spending?

I'm tired of hearing "job creation" coming out of these politicians' mouths. This stimulus will NOT create as many jobs as the govt thinks it will. And I do agree with the GOP that it is a lot of spending involved. Actually, I don't blame the GOP one bit for objecting to the original plans, there was simply too much money going to nonsense. And even now, there is still a lot being wasted.

Stimulus checks....NOT GONNA WORK!

Like the stimulus checks that went out in 2006, I'm willing to bet that the ones going out this time won't work either. People are too scared to spend now. They will simply take the checks and hoard them, or use them to pay off debts. Neither option works, so why should I believe that people will spend these checks to boost the economy? Such b.s.

In conclusion...

THE STIMULUS WILL NOT WORK! THE NATION WILL BECOME EVEN WORSE THAN IT IS NOW, THUS COLLAPSING OUR ECONOMY INTO AN ALL OUT DEPRESSION!

(END OF RANT)
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Old February 14th, 2009, 04:05 PM   #248
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I HOPE THIS IS THE FINAL PRODUCT. OTHERWISE I WON'T BELIEVE A SINGLE BIT OF IT.

Plans already in place for Florida's share of stimulus
Saturday, February 14, 2009

(Bay News 9) -- State and local leaders already have plans for Florida's share of the stimulus money - about $10 billion for the state.

The biggest chunk of that money - $4.3 billion - will go to Medicaid, while another $2 billion will go to the State Stabilization Fund. Another $1.3 billion of the money is allotted for transportation projects.

Gov. Charlie Crist, along wit St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, said they are optimistic about what the money will mean for the Bay area.

According to the governor, the money spent on transportation will create thousands of new jobs. Some of the projects expected to move forward in Tampa with this money include the Crosstown Connector, the interstate project that has seen some portions put on hold and the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, as well as some area bridges.

Baker said a committee will meet Tuesday to prioritize the city's roadway projects, but among those being considered are expansions of U.S. 19, the 118th Avenue corridor and the Bayway Bridge.

Crist said the state is ready to spend the money wisely.

"It's a new day and there's a reason I'm supporting this stimulus package," he said. "Because number one - Florida needs it. Number two - it creates jobs. It helps our people and it keeps us from having to raise additional revenues, if what we're hearing is accurate, and that's just great news for our state."

Few of Crist's fellow Republicans support the stimulus package, and many of them have criticized the governor for supporting it. Crist said he knows the package is not perfect, but he said the state is in a crisis and needs the money to get back on its financial feet - now.

Highlights of Florida's take

Medicaid: $4.3 billion
State Stabilization Fund: $2.2 billion
Highway funding: $1.3 billion
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: $1.1 billion
Title I Education for the Disadvantaged: $651 million
Dept. of Education - special education: $627 million
Transit Formula Funding: $316 million
Weatherization: $190 million
State Energy Program: $125 million
Public Housing Capital Fund: $86 million
Homelessness Prevention Fund: $65.6 million

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2...ce+for+Florida

RELATED STORY: http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2...ep+in+recovery
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Last edited by HARTride 2012; February 15th, 2009 at 06:07 AM.
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Old February 16th, 2009, 02:37 PM   #249
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Florida's governor readies four proposals for property tax relief

By Marc Caputo and Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
In Print: Sunday, February 15, 2009

TALLAHASSEE — Property taxes in Florida have not dropped "like a rock" as Gov. Charlie Crist said they would, but he's going to keep trying to make good on a promise made two years ago.

The Republican governor's goals for the spring lawmaking session include four separate tax proposals that would go before voters on the 2010 ballot, when Crist himself would be seeking voters' favor as a candidate for re-election as governor or election to the U.S. Senate.

The total taxpayer savings — or cost to all local governments and schools statewide — could weigh in at roughly $600 million, according to preliminary staff estimates and prior analyses of similar proposals to help homeowners and cap and limit local-government taxation.

"You want as much relief as possible," said Crist, who would not confirm details of the proposals. "People have been complaining about property tax increases for a long time. We're all aware of that."

The tax package, to be unveiled this week, is still evolving. But Crist's aides have explained them to key lawmakers, who shared details of the following four proposed constitutional amendments with the Times/Herald:

• Cap government spending by limiting cities' and counties' tax collections. Any taxes collected above the rate of inflation and population growth would be kept in a "stabilization fund" in case of emergencies. Legislative Republicans want the cap to apply to the state government as well.

• Limit growth in the assessed value of businesses, vacation homes and other nonhomesteaded properties to 5 percent annually. Those assessment increases are now capped at 10 percent a year due to the passage of Amendment 1 in Jan. 2008.

• Aid first-time home buyers by increasing the homestead exemption to 50 percent of the market value of the home. The exemption's value would decrease back to zero over five years. Maximum exemption: $500,000.

• Prohibit tax-assessment increases on homesteaded properties whose market values decline — a quirk in the current Save Our Homes system known as "the recapture rule."

Crist said it makes no sense. "There's some frustration among homeowners who have to pay more taxes when their homes lost value," said Crist. He's also tentatively proposing a statutory plan to make it easier for businesses to challenge property-tax assessments.

That proposal is the only tax plan that requires a straight up-or-down vote.

The constitutional amendments will need to pass by a three-fifths vote in each house: 24 in the Senate and 72 in the House. In each chamber, the proposals can pass without any Democratic votes.

Voters must approve the final amendments with a 60 percent vote.

Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, who has not been briefed on the proposals, voiced skepticism, saying Crist's plans might perpetuate the imbalance in Florida's property tax system in which longtime property owners receive greater benefits than newcomers.

"The problem with Florida's tax code is its inequities," Gelber said. "You can't deliver relief until you deliver reform."

For example, he said, a 5 percent tax cap for businesses would result in two gas stations on the same intersection paying wildly different tax bills over time, with the older gas outlet enjoying a locked-in benefit, and the newer station paying much higher taxes.

"This isn't the time to be doing that," said lawyer-lobbyist Ron Meyer, who represents the Florida Education Association.

"While he's to be applauded for using the word 'revenue,' he should be talking about how to increase it … not decrease it at a time when schools are suffering like never before."

Meyer said the union might also oppose another Crist priority that would require up to 70 percent of school money to be spent "in the classroom" because it's unclear how "classroom" is defined.

Said Gelber: "That's a gimmick. It sounds really good, but it's not a policy anybody can truly gauge, because 'the classroom' can be defined differently. And 70 percent of diddly is still diddly."

Opponents of property-tax cuts also question some of the conventional wisdom pushed by Republicans, who said the economy would improve after they passed a property tax cut in 2007 and persuaded voters to approve another in 2008. Since then, the economy has only worsened.

Echoing other Republicans, Sen. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey said Florida would have been in worse shape without the tax cuts. He said people need more.

"People are hurting, and it's just unfair to increase their property taxes when their property values fall," said Fasano, a sponsor of the tax-cut measure.

Marc Caputo can be reached at mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com.


[Last modified: Feb 15, 2009 08:56 AM]

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politic...icle976083.ece
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Old February 17th, 2009, 04:32 PM   #250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HARTride 2012 View Post
Another reason why Tampa will be screwed is that the other metros will likely come first. Orlando, Miami, and Jax will, in my eyes, each get a considerable amount of funds if they have thier planning all done, leaving Tampa with whatever leftovers the stimulus can provide. All this sums up to one thing......yep, you guessed it, only the smallest projects will get funding, meaning landscaping and minor traffic improvements (like signals). So in the end, Tampa will pretty much get little to nothing at all from this.
I was definitely correct in the sense that Tampa will get ZERO money for mass transit. According to Stimulus Watch (http://www.stimuluswatch.org/project/by_state/FL), All of the money that is earmarked for Transportation improvements are SOLELY GOING TO ROADWAYS! Guess which metro got their public transit projects ready to go? MIAMI!. Yep Miami seems to be the only one on board when it comes to prepping for mass transit. Jax got about 5 to 6 mass transit projects funded & ready, and Orlando has one. This is yet more evidence that Tampa's govt has their heads on completely WRONG! Other than the fact that Kennedy/MacDill/DM intersections will get overhauled, just about ALL these projects listed in Stimulus Watch are ALL SIGNIFICANTLY MINOR IMPROVEMENTS! Maybe when Tampa Bay is gridlocked in 20-laned freeways, that our govt will FINALLY realize, "Oops! We should have built rail."
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Old February 17th, 2009, 07:23 PM   #251
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You would think that at least Tampa/Hills would have its act together as there are only about 3-4 legislative bodies, versus Pinellas which is a cluster-F of 25 little fifedoms. But this is what happens when there isn't a plan of action.

As a side note, I was in town last week and thought things were actually shaping up pretty well. Gandy was looking better and I'm sure when they get it done, it'll be much improved. Kennedy looked better and it seems that even with the recession, new businesses are trying to make a run of things (Tun du Ree in particular). DT-Tampa was looking much improved, especially at night with much more foot traffic due in part to Skypoint/Element. DT-St. Pete is looking as good as it did when we left. Signature is probably the best looking building in the area. St.Pete Beach is still dumpy, and it doesn't look good longterm as I know the Bon Aire family just lost the parents running the hotel, so we'll see if the kids want to make a run of operating it or cashing out to condo developers. No matter what, condos will always sell on the beach.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 05:16 AM   #252
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Governor Crist wants more property tax cuts
Posted By: Tamara Hill 3 hrs ago
10Connects News

Tallahassee, Florida - The Republican governor has proposed three additional state constitutional amendments and another law.

Legislation and an amendment passed in 2007 and 2008 helped cut property taxes an average of 3 percent annually after a stream of increases.

One proposed amendment would put spending caps on local governments. Another would give breaks to first-time home buyers and non-homeowner taxpayers. The third would bar tax increases for primary homeowners if their property values go down.

Crist also is supporting a bill to aid taxpayers who appeal their assessments.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story...100910&catid=8
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Old February 24th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #253
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Tampa-Based AAA Auto Club Cutting Jobs

By TED JACKOVICS | The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 23, 2009

TAMPA - With travel sales down 50 percent for the quarter ended Dec. 31, AAA Auto Club South is eliminating 37 of 3,100 jobs in its three-state area, an official said this morning.

That includes 23 layoffs and 14 open positions.

The travel agency's Tampa headquarters on West Shore Boulevard has laid off five of its approximately 550 employees, Vice President Kevin Bakewell said.

Tours and cruises represent about 25 percent of the company's business, Bakewell said, with the remainder coming from insurance and membership dues.

The layoffs affect 16 of AAA Auto Club South's branch offices, which operate in Florida, Georgia, western and middle Tennessee and Puerto Rico.

In addition, all full-time, hourly travel agency staff at headquarters and branches, except agents who performed at "Sales Excellence" level for 2008, will work a 38-hour week for the remainder of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, a company memo said.

The reduction in hours takes effect today.

Reporter Ted Jackovics can be reached at (813) 259-7817 or tjackovics@tampatrib.com.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/feb...bs/news-money/
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Old February 26th, 2009, 04:12 PM   #254
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Bill provides federal money for Port of Tampa, HCC, nonprofits
Tampa Bay Business Journal

Tampa Bay is set to cash in on investments from Washington that will spur job creation. Local grants were included in the $410 billion appropriations bill, which passed in the House Wednesday.

“Significant investments in the Tampa Bay area economy will preserve jobs and provide a shot in the arm to the local economy,” Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said in a release.

The Port of Tampa secured $4.2 million for dredging and maintenance at the port and an additional $478,000 for channel widening. The widening money will promote expansion of the port and help alleviate traffic congestion in the channel where delays now occur.

Hillsborough Community College will receive $285,000 to fund a dental clinic at the school. The HCC clinic provides dental education for college students, preparing them for jobs at dental offices and also provides oral health care to low-income adults and children.

A summer youth employment program operated by the city of St. Petersburg will get $190,000. The program provides summer jobs to 14- to 23-year-olds and encourages interns, the release said.

Other projects to receive funding include:

• Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Hispanic Youth Gang Prevention Project: $250,000

• Mary Lee’s House to help victims of child sexual and physical abuse: $250,000

• Manatee Harbor dredging and maintenance: $2.5 million

• Hillsborough Avenue beautification project in Town ‘n Country: $237,000

• St. Petersburg historic Jordan Elementary School restoration: $190,000

• Phoenix House residential treatment: $200,000

• Pinellas County Ex-Offender Re-entry Initiative: $300,000

• HART bus and para-transit acquisition: $2.2 million

• Hillsborough County water taxi feasibility study: $475,000

• Ophelia Project and Boys Initiative of Tampa Bay: $167,000

http://tampabay.bizjournals.com/tamp...3/daily40.html
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Old February 26th, 2009, 05:14 PM   #255
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This is what I mean about not having your act together with future planning.

The Port of Tampa secured $4.2 million for dredging and maintenance at the port and an additional $478,000 for channel widening. The widening money will promote expansion of the port and help alleviate traffic congestion in the channel where delays now occur.Only serious money in the bill and its only an ongoing maintenance issue. It does nothing to significantly improve the quality of service of the port.

Hillsborough Community College will receive $285,000 to fund a dental clinic at the school. The HCC clinic provides dental education for college students, preparing them for jobs at dental offices and also provides oral health care to low-income adults and children. This level of funding will pay for a director to administer the program and one assistant for probably two years max considering office expenses.

A summer youth employment program operated by the city of St. Petersburg will get $190,000. The program provides summer jobs to 14- to 23-year-olds and encourages interns, the release said.Just like above, one director, one assistant and xerox paper.

Other projects to receive funding include:

• Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Hispanic Youth Gang Prevention Project: $250,000 Same story

• Mary Lee’s House to help victims of child sexual and physical abuse: $250,000 Third verse, same as the first.

• Manatee Harbor dredging and maintenance: $2.5 million

• Hillsborough Avenue beautification project in Town ‘n Country: $237,000

• St. Petersburg historic Jordan Elementary School restoration: $190,000

• Phoenix House residential treatment: $200,000

• Pinellas County Ex-Offender Re-entry Initiative: $300,000Decent idea, but again its a one - two year hit with a director, assistant and office expenses.

• HART bus and para-transit acquisition: $2.2 million

• Hillsborough County water taxi feasibility study: $475,000This is just a waste, for this serious improvements at any number of West Tampa, Seminole Heights, T&C or any other middle class area parks could have been made.

• Ophelia Project and Boys Initiative of Tampa Bay: $167,000


By not having a serious plans available all of these organizations loose out. Its sad really because the numbers shown don't make a serious dent in anything. They only buy another year. I knew the stimulus was way too small, but I guess its at least a start. My understanding is that the President's budget proposal calls for a worst case of spending another $750B in additional stimulus. Hopefully the various governmental bodies, NGO's etc will get their acts together and develop some long term, serious plans that will significantly change things. An elevated Crosstown connector at Gandy is significant, simulated paver crosswalks aren't. Think big people.
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Old February 26th, 2009, 05:48 PM   #256
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Agreed. I think HART should have gotten more $$ as well. They should have gotten more to double track the streetcar. This money will only be enough for them to improve their operations facility, secure their purchase of 30 new Gillig low floor buses (to replace the Phantoms), and rehab/repaint the existing low floor buses.
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Old February 28th, 2009, 08:20 PM   #257
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Thousands rally to protest budget cuts
Saturday, February 28, 2009

ORLANDO -- Thousands from all over Florida are expected to show up at the University of Central Florida Saturday to rally against budget cuts to education.

The Make Our Schools A Priority rally is set to kick off at 11 a.m. at the UCF Arena.

Several hundred educators from the Bay area - including 100 people who left Armwood High School early this morning - are set to join others from Volusia, Brevard and Lake counties.

They said they are worried that further budget cuts could mean bigger classrooms, which would mean less individual attention for the students

Organizers of the event said it is time for parents, teachers and students to raise their voices and let Florida lawmakers know that public education should be an important priority.

The rally comes a day after thousands teachers and students in Orange County wore red to symbolize that education cuts hurt them.

This story is from our Bright House Networks partner, Central Florida News 13.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2...st+budget+cuts
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Old February 28th, 2009, 08:21 PM   #258
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Bill could mean cuts to state legislators' salaries
Saturday, February 28, 2009

TALLAHASSEE (Bay News 9) -- Over the past few years, the Florida Legislature has sliced billions from the state's budget, with education, health care and public safety all taking big hits.

About the only thing lawmakers haven't cut are their own salaries, but even that is about to change.

While the lifestyle of a state politician may seem grandiose and lavish to some, former state Rep. Curtis Richardson said that, at a salary of $31,000 a year, it's anything but.

"That simply made up for what I lost on my full-time job, when I had to be at the Legislature for 60 days and, in some cases, even longer, and taking leave of absence without pay," Richardson said.

Now that paycheck may shrink soon. Lawmakers open their annual session next week, and a top issue will be whether they should cut their own pay by 5 percent.

Of course, the perks of being a legislator don't end at the salary - they also have access to a members-only dining hall where they eat free, free housing, and even a taxpayer-funded shuttle to take them about town.

To former state legislator Pete Dunbar, the perks and salary are plenty. He said that, while the luxuries and pay are nice, they are not the reason he ran to serve in the State House.

"I'm not sure that you should be looking at your legislative job as a means to an end," he said. "People do not come here for the salaries."

But without the salaries, it may be impossible for many people to serve.

"If you are the primary breadwinner, even that amount makes a difference, especially in the economy that we're in now," Richardson said.

The concern is that, even if the perks remain, a deep cut in salary will further reduce the number of people who are able to hold jobs in public service.

Despite this, the majority of lawmakers that spoke with Bay News 9 said they don't have a problem with seeing their salaries cut.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2...rs%27+salaries
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 03:57 AM   #259
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Florida leads country in new families using food stamps
Sunday, March 1, 2009

POLK COUNTY (Bay News 9) -- Many Florida families are finding it harder to put food on the table, and the tough economic times are driving many people to apply for food stamps for the first time.

The hard times have pushed Florida to the top spot in the country for new families cashing in on food stamps.

DCF reports 30 percent more people in Polk County are on food stamps this year compared to last year, which puts the total number of people on food stamps at close to 70,000 in the county. And since last year more than 400,000 new Floridians have also qualified for the assistance.

Florida is using a chunk of its economic stimulus funding to feed the growing demand.

The first week of the month is usually the busiest at Super Choice Foods in Lakeland. That's when most food stamp cards get recharged. In fact, the majority of shoppers at the store get their food with the red, white, and blue government-issued cards.

Storeowner Jimand Zaed says business is up and there's a surge in the number of his customers now using food stamps.

Shopper Tammy Hadley paid for the meal she is having Sunday night with food stamps. She just qualified for them two months ago.

"I don't buy no snacks, no anything," Hadley said. "I take it and just buy all meats because meat is the most expensive things."

A recent layoff reduced Hadley's household of seven, from two incomes to one.

"It's hard for everybody," she said.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2...ng+food+stamps
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 03:58 AM   #260
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Budget top priority as state lawmakers prepare to meet
Sunday, March 1, 2009

TALLAHASSEE (Bay News 9) -- Budget, budget, budget.

That will be the focus when Florida lawmakers gather Tuesday in Tallahassee.

Among the issues that will be discussed while lawmakers try to slash $6 billion: insurance, education, health care, energy, growth and transportation.

The federal stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama will send $12.2 billion to the state during the next three years but lawmakers don't know exactly how much will be available and when.

Meanwhile, lawmakers will have 60 days to pass a budget.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2...repare+to+meet
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