Trump vowed to ‘defeat AIDS’ in his State of the Union. Florida is ground zero.

Trump vowed to ‘defeat AIDS’ in his State of the Union. Florida is ground zero.

By Steve Contorno (Tampa Bay Times) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to “eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years” during his State of the Union address. “Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach,” Trump said. “Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.” It’s a surprising declaration for a president who has proposed cutting tens of millions of dollars from federal HIV and AIDS programs in his previous budget. And a day after the unexpected announcement, officials couldn’t say how much Trump’s 2020 budget would dedicate to tackling this public health crisis. Read...
DeSantis touts African-American appointees following heated campaign

DeSantis touts African-American appointees following heated campaign

By David Smiley (Tampa Bay Times) – Ron DeSantis was accused on the campaign trail of courting bigots. Now, as Florida’s governor, he’s courting African Americans. Coming off a contentious campaign dominated by allegations of racism, DeSantis touted the diversity of his administration Monday during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech at a historically black church in South Florida. In an event intended to promote his plan to expand school vouchers, he also highlighted his minority hires for top posts. Read...
He won the election. On Tuesday, Ron DeSantis becomes Florida’s 46th governor.

He won the election. On Tuesday, Ron DeSantis becomes Florida’s 46th governor.

By Emily Mahoney (Tampa Bay Times) – TALLAHASSEE — Amid a ceremonial flourish and a raised right hand, Ron DeSantis will become Florida’s 46th governor on Tuesday on the steps of Florida’s historic Capitol. He’s canceled the usual parade and is addressing Legislative leaders on the fourth floor of the Capitol, where the 40-year-old incoming governor will emphasize the need to get to work immediately. After the swearing-in, at about noon, DeSantis will make a speech that will focus on his governing priorities and on a call to unify the state, said Susie Wiles, who led his campaign and now heads his transition. On Friday, workers were busy installing a stage and seating along Monroe Street in Tallahassee to prepare for that speech. Read...
Florida’s tax revenues boom as budget runs $365 million ahead of projections

Florida’s tax revenues boom as budget runs $365 million ahead of projections

By News Service of Florida (Tampa Bay Times) – TALLAHASSEE — With an unexpected surge in sales-tax and corporate income-tax collections, analysts on Tuesday projected a significant increase in state revenue over two years. If the revenue projections hold, it will ease the financial pressure on incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis, as he prepares his first budget recommendation, and on the Legislature, which must pass a 2019-2020 state budget when it meets in the spring. State revenue collections during the fiscal year that started July 1 have been running $365.2 million ahead of projections that had been last revised in August. The two largest components of that increase were $173.5 million in sales-tax collections running ahead of estimates and $126 million in additional corporate income-tax collections. Read...
Gov. Rick Scott removes Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes from office

Gov. Rick Scott removes Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes from office

By David Smiley (Tampa Bay Times) – Gov. Rick Scott suspended Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes from office Friday, citing malfeasance and incompetence on the heels of a tumultuous recount during which the governor also accused the embattled supervisor of elections fraud. Scott signed an executive order late Friday afternoon removing Snipes from office. To back his decision, he listed a litany of well-publicized problems, including the misplacement of thousands of ballots during the recount, a missed state deadline to file results and the inadvertent mixing of invalid ballots with valid ones. Read...