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Donald Trump Month Two: Talks on health care and on tax overhaul

As President Donald Trump begins his second month in office, his team is trying to move past the crush of controversies that overtook his first month and make progress on health care and tax overhauls long sought by Republicans.

Both issues thrust Trump, a real estate executive who has never held elected office, into the unfamiliar world of legislating. The president has thus far relied exclusively on executive powers to muscle through policy priorities and has offered few details about what he’ll require in any final legislative packages, like how the proposals should be paid for. The White House also sent conflicting signals about whether the president will send Congress his own legislative blueprints or let lawmakers drive the process.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told The Associated Press that he expects a health care plan to emerge in “the first few days of March.” Pressed on whether the plan would be coming from the White House, Priebus said, “We don’t work in a vacuum.”

On Sunday, White House advisers held a three-hour meeting on health care at Trump’s South Florida club, their third lengthy discussion on the topic in four days. Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs banker now serving as Trump’s top economic adviser, and newly sworn in Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have been leading talks with Republican lawmakers and business leaders on taxes. Neither man has prior government experience.

Republicans long blamed Democrats for blocking efforts to overhaul the nation’s complicated tax code and make changes to the sweeping 2010 health care law signed by President Barack Obama. But with the GOP now in control of both the White House and Congress, making good on those promises rests almost entirely with the president and his party.

To some Republicans’ chagrin, both issues were overshadowed during Trump’s first month. The president spent more time publicly fighting the media than selling Americans on his vision for a new health care law. Fresh questions emerged about Trump’s ties to Russia, particularly after national security adviser Michael Flynn was fired for misleading the White House about his conversations with a Russian envoy. The White House botched the rollout of a refugee and immigration executive order, Trump’s most substantive policy initiative to date, and the directive was quickly blocked by the courts.

Priebus said the distractions did not slow down work happening behind the scenes on the president’s legislative priorities.

“Obviously with the White House staff, you’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Priebus said. “The economic team isn’t screwing around with the legal case and the lawyers aren’t screwing around with tax reform.”

One of the biggest questions on Capitol Hill is how involved Trump plans to be in legislative minutia. One GOP leadership aide whose office has been working with the White House described the president as a “big picture guy” and said he expected Trump to defer to Capitol Hill on health care in particular. The aide was not authorized to speak publicly and insisted on anonymity.

Priebus said he expects Congress to pass both a tax package and legislation repealing and replacing Obama’s health care law by the end of the year. But the White House’s outward confidence belies major roadblocks on both matters.

After spending years criticizing “Obamacare,” Republicans are grappling with how to replace it and pay for a new law. While some lawmakers worry about getting blamed for taking health insurance away from millions of people, others worry the party won’t go far enough in upending the current system.

“My worry now is that many people are talking about a partial repeal of Obamacare,” Rep. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said. “If you only repeal part of it and you leave it some sort of Obamacare light, which some are talking about, my fear is the situation actually gets worse.”

Trump has said he wants to keep popular provisions like guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions and allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. He’s also raised the prospect of allowing people to buy insurance across states lines, which is not part of the law.

On taxes, Republicans have a potentially more vexing impasse. House Republicans want to scrap the 35 percent tax on corporate profits, which is riddled with exemptions, deductions and credits, and replace it with a “border adjustment tax.” The system would tax all imports coming into the U.S., but exclude exports from taxation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan‘s office has been vigorously promoting the idea to Trump, who has called the system “too complicated.” Some House aides have privately voiced optimism that the White House is coming around, though Priebus would only say that border adjustment was “an option we’re all discussing and debating.”

The president has said he plans to release a “phenomenal” tax plan in the coming weeks.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Bar exam board now seeking public members

The board responsible for writing the state’s bar examination is looking for two more volunteer members.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners now is seeking “two public members” for three-year terms each, it announced in a Tuesday press release.

“A public member volunteer should possess education or work-related experience such as educational testing, accounting, statistical analysis, medicine, psychology or related sciences,” the release said. “A bachelor’s degree is required. Lawyers are not eligible.”

The Board “ensures that (Bar) applicants have met the requirements … with regard to character and fitness, education and technical competence before recommending to the Supreme Court of Florida an applicant’s admission” as a lawyer, according to the release.

Applicants “must be able to attend approximately 10 meetings a year in various Florida locations, with travel and (other) expenses reimbursed. Board members should be willing and able to devote the equivalent of 3-4 days’ work a month, or up to 350 or more hours per year on Board business, depending on committee assignments.”

Interested? You can download a questionnaire here or should call the Bar at (850) 561-5757.

Completed applications must be received by the Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300 or submitted via email to <specialapptapp@floridabar.org> by close of business on Monday, April 3.

On Monday, the Board announced it was also looking for two lawyer-members.

Florida’s bar exam is given twice yearly over two days, in July and February, at the Tampa Convention Center. The latest exam is happening today and Wednesday.

Florida looks to expand gun rights in wake of Pulse shooting

Florida Republicans are more determined than ever to pass bills expanding gun rights in the wake of the deadly Pulse nightclub and Fort Lauderdale airport shootings.

They say law-abiding gun owners should be allowed to take their weapons to airports, government meetings and state universities, and would be in a better position to protect themselves and others if a mass shooting should erupt in one of those places.

“Anytime you create a gun-free zone, you essentially are creating a safe haven for mass shooters and the criminal element and you put law-abiding people at a disadvantage,” said Marion Hammer, who has lobbied for the National Rifle Association for more than 42 years.

There are about two dozen gun-related bills filed ahead of next month’s 60-day legislative session and the vast majority would expand gun rights so they can be carried, as one opponent said, “pretty much everywhere.”

“If it’s a reaction to the Pulse shooting and Fort Lauderdale, it’s a very odd reaction,” said Patti Brigham, a vice president at the League of Women Voters of Florida and co-chair of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s like bad gun bills on steroids.”

While Democrats have responded to the mass shootings by proposing more restrictions, including a ban on assault-style rifles and large capacity ammunition clips, they have virtually no chance of passing while Republicans dominate both legislative chambers.

Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando, whose bill would ban assault-like rifles, said expanding areas where guns can be carried isn’t the right approach. “Their solution is, ‘We want guns everywhere, all the time, by every person,’ which is not going to address these problems. It’s going to make them worse,” he said.

Republican Rep. Jake Raburn of Valrico said many of this year’s Republican proposals were easily approved in the House last year and will likely pass the chamber again this year. And he sees a better chance that the Senate will pass gun-right expansions, especially since the chamber’s top advocate, Sen. Greg Steube, chairs the Judiciary Committee – the first stop for gun legislation.

Raburn is sponsoring the bill to allow guns at airports, an issue he proposed before the Fort Lauderdale shooting. He said hypothetical arguments against the idea just don’t hold weight, such as police not knowing which person holding a gun is an active shooter and which is a permit holder defending himself.

“Florida is one of only six states that doesn’t already allow that,” he said. “We haven’t seen any of these ‘what if?’ scenarios of law abiding permit holders being a problem in airports.”

The following is a look at gun-related legislation that has been filed by Republicans and Democrats.

Bills filed by Republicans would:

– Allow licensed handgun owners to openly carry their weapons.

– Allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry a gun in non-secure areas of airports.

– Allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns at any legislative meeting or committee meeting.

– Allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on state university campuses.

– Allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns at county and municipal government meetings.

– Allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns at career centers.

– Allow members of the state Cabinet who have concealed weapons permits to carry guns anywhere not prohibited by federal law. Reduce the penalty the violating the current open carry ban from a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine to a non-criminal civil fine of $25.

– Holds business owners who ban guns from their property liable for injuries suffered by a concealed weapon permit holder who is attacked

– Allows concealed weapons permit holders to bring guns to courthouses and temporarily surrender them to security. The courts must keep the weapons in locked storage space.

– Expand the “stand your ground” to give more protection to people using the self-defense claim by placing the burden of proof on prosecutors to prove people charged with assaulting or killing someone else wasn’t acting in self-defense.

– Place on the November ballot a measure asking voters to exempt law enforcement officers from the 72-hour waiting period to buy personal handguns.

Bills filed by Democrats would:

– Ban semi-automatic assault-type rifles like AR-15s and AK-47 and detachable ammunition magazines that hold more than 7 rounds.

– Bans guns at performance arts centers and theaters.

– Removes exceptions to a law requiring guns in homes occupied by minors be stored in locked boxes or with trigger locks.

– Increases the penalties for displaying concealed weapons in a threatening manner on or near school properties or activities from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. Increases penalties for people who fail to store a gun in a way to prevent access by minors.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Adam Putnam’s political committee adds another $500K

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised more than $500,000 for his political committee in the first half of February according to a newly updated financial report.

The committee, Florida Grown, brought in about $200,000 of its $538,000 haul from the Associated Industries of Florida and one of its related political committees. Another $100,000 came from Vero Beach businessman Robert Stork, and Disney chipped in another $50,000 on February 1.

February’s running total has already eclipsed January’s numbers, which saw the Polk County Republican add just over $400,000 to its coffers.

Those numbers were boosted by a $250,000 check from Florida Power and Light and $100,000 from Disney.

Most expenditures this month have been for payroll and office services, though the committee did shell out $82,000 to Lakeland-based Silloh Consulting on the first of the month.

Florida Grown finished January with about $4.7 million on hand, and through the first two weeks of February, that total looks to have breached the $5 million mark.

Putnam, a former congressman, is currently serving his second and final term as Agriculture Commissioner, though he is thought to be eyeing a run for governor in 2018.

The bad, the ugly and the downright horrible — a roundup of today-in-DCF news

Guns, children, neglect, animal abuse, human trafficking and forced prostitution.

These aren’t the beautiful, cliché, sundown-on-the-beach Florida stories, but in an attempt to raise public consciousness about these issues we at Florida Politics bring you today’s ‘DCF Files.’

***

On Monday, the Palm Beach Post published a story citing chilling figures from the Florida Department of Children and Families — in an annual human trafficking dossier, fiscal year 2015-2016 — in which 1,892 reports of human trafficking were recorded during the period.

It marked a roughly 54 percent increase from the year before. Here’s another comparison to raise your consciousness on the issue: In fiscal year 2010-2011 in Florida human trafficking reports totaled 480. The worst region of the state for this infernal problem, according to report, was the Central region, followed by the Suncoast.

According to the Polaris Project — a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that monitors the number of calls to the national trafficking hotline database — Florida ranked third-highest in the nation with reported cases in 2016, trailing only California and Texas.

A large percentage of those abducted wind up in sex trafficking, as the Post pointed out a few days ago when three men in their 20s kidnapped a 19-year-old female with the intention of selling her for sexual services on social media. Other abducted are used for indentured servitude — or slaves. And more and more of the victims tend to be younger, the report noted.

Feel good yet? Let’s move on.

In a few weeks we’ll know more about what will be happening in the case of four-year-old Avion Weaver when on Jan. 20, while alone at home, he discovered the loaded 9 mm handgun of his mother’s boyfriend and fatally shot himself in the in the face, reported Leesburg, Florida’s hometown newspaper, The Daily Commercial on Monday.

Police are deciding whether or not the boyfriend, Demeko Robinson, should be held responsible for the boy’s death. He lived at the residence with the boy and his mother, but was apparently outside talking with friends when the incident happened inside the home, according to The Daily Commercial. Avion’s mother, Deja Perry, was on her way home from having picked up her car after it had been repaired.

DCF has opened its own investigation. Avion had been taken into DCF custody for six months during part of 2014 and 2015. The agency is conducting a review of their own staff to determine whether or not they did their job appropriately, something that keeps coming up with the agency as of late, as cited herehereherehereherehereherehere and in this example, in which it was discovered by The Orlando Sentinel that more than 70 DCF case workers had falsified information during investigations over a two-year period.

Don’t stop reading. Stay with us here because there’s a reason we’re dragging you through this.

WJXT NewsJax4, out of Jacksonville, reported Monday Heather Stevenson had been arrested for aggravated child abuse and child neglect in connection to her two-year-old son. Meanwhile, Stevenson’s other son, Chance Vanderpool, 4, who was autistic, died in her care in November.

“According to the original arrest report, investigators found several old injuries on Chance’s body, including bruises on his lower back and upper buttocks, swelling and bruising to his nose, eyes and forehead and a ‘large cigar-size’ burn on his left foot,” WJXT reported.

Last one: Christopher Adam Perez, 28, is facing animal cruelty charges after starving his dog, found by authorities in an emaciated state and yellow-stained feet from urine in his cage, reported The Austin-American Statesman on Monday. The police discovered the animal as a result of responded to investigate a nine-month-old baby who had died in the home.

You might wonder why Florida Politics would bring you such a depressing roundup of news.

Something awful is happening in the state of Florida. We’re not sure who’s to blame — certainly there’s enough neglect on the part of inept and careless parents, and poorly trained child welfare workers, to go around. But is the fault of the overall state system?

Over the course of the 60-day Florida legislative session, we hope to ask many of this state’s elected leaders that, and many more questions in an attempt to highlight what has become an atrocious epidemic sweeping across this state, now known as one of the very worst in the nation in protecting its children.

And that’s just unacceptable. We hope you think so, too.

Thousands of demonstrators across U.S. say ‘Not My President’

Thousands of demonstrators turned out Monday across the U.S. to challenge Donald Trump in a Presidents Day protest dubbed Not My President’s Day.

The events on the federal holiday didn’t draw nearly as many people as the million-plus who thronged the streets following the Republican president’s inauguration a month earlier, but the message was similar.

Thousands of flag-waving protesters lined up outside Central Park in Manhattan. Many in the crowd chanted “No ban, no wall. The Trump regime has got to fall.” They held aloft signs saying “Uphold the Constitution Now” and “Impeach the Liar.”

A rally in downtown Los Angeles also drew thousands. Demonstrators there called attention to Trump’s crackdown on immigration and his party’s response to climate change and the environment. Organizers said they chose to rally on the holiday as a way to honor past presidents by exercising their constitutional right to assemble and peacefully protest.

In Chicago, several hundred rallied across the river from the Trump Tower, shouting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

Rebecca Wolfram of Chicago, who’s in her 60s, said concerns about climate change and immigrant rights under Trump prompted her to start attending rallies.

“I’m trying to demonstrate as much as possible until I figure out what else to do,” said Wolfram, who held a sign that said “Old white ladies are really displeased.”

Several hundred demonstrated in Washington, D.C. Dozens gathered around the fountain in Dupont Circle chanting “Dump Trump” and “Love, not hate: That’s what makes America great.”

Dozens marched through midtown Atlanta for a rally named with a Georgia flavor: “ImPEACH NOW! (Not My) President’s Day March.”

Hundreds of protesters chanting “This is what democracy looks like” marched through Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the crowd marched to push back against Trump and his administration’s stance on such issues as the environment, immigration, free speech and Russia.

Some people raised signs that said “Not My President,” while others held up a large American flag. Protester Reg Brookings warned the crowd that Trump is trying to divide the country by making such groups as immigrants the enemy.

A small but unruly group of protesters faced off with police in downtown Portland, Oregon.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the police confronted the crowd in front of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. Police took some people into custody.

Hundreds of Trump opponents and supporters turned out in Rapid City, South Dakota.

A larger anti-Trump faction stood on a street corner as part of a “Not My President” protest, similar to other demonstrations being held across the country. A group supporting the president lined up on a different corner at the same intersection.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Donald Trump taps military strategist as national security adviser

President Donald Trump has tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a prominent military strategist known as a creative thinker, as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn.

Trump announced the pick Monday at his Palm Beach, Florida, club and said McMaster is “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”

The president’s choice further elevated the influence of military officers in the new administration. Trump, who has no military or foreign policy experience, has shown a strong preference for putting generals in top roles. In this case, he tapped an active-duty officer for a post that’s sometimes used as a counterweight to the Pentagon. McMaster, who wore his uniform for the announcement, joins Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, both retired generals, in Trump’s inner circle of national security advisers. The White House said Monday McMaster plans to remain on active military duty.

He will take on the challenge of leading a National Security Council that has not adjusted smoothly to Trump’s leadership. The president suggested he does not trust holdovers from the Obama administration and complained about leaks to reporters. His decision to put his top political adviser on the senior committee of the National Security Council drew sharp criticism. On Friday, the head of the council’s Western Hemisphere division was fired after he criticized Trump’s policies and his inner circle of advisers.

Trump said Monday that retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who had been his acting adviser, will now serve as the National Security Council chief of staff. He also said he would be asking John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to work with them in a “somewhat different capacity.”

McMaster is viewed as soldier-scholar and creative thinker. He has a doctoral degree in history from the University of North Carolina and has been heavily involved in the Army’s efforts to shape its future force and its way of preparing for war. He is currently the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, a sort of military think tank, at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Outside of the Army, he may be best known for his 1997 book, “Dereliction of Duty,” a searing indictment of the U.S. government’s mishandling of the Vietnam War and an analysis of what he called the “lies that led to Vietnam.” The book earned him a reputation for being willing to speak truth to power.

McMaster commanded troops in both American wars in Iraq — in 1991, when he fought in a storied tank battle known as the Battle for 73 Easting, and again in 2005-2006 in one of the most violent periods of the insurgency that developed after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. He is credited with using innovative approaches to countering the insurgency in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar when he commanded the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He later served as a special adviser to the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

McMaster was Trump’s second choice to replace Flynn, who has been under FBI investigation for his contacts with Russian officials. Trump dismissed Flynn last week after revelations that the adviser had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his discussion with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential transition. Trump said in a news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.

Trump’s first choice to replace Flynn, retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward, turned down the offer.

Trump announced his choice sitting between McMaster and Kellogg in a luxurious living room at the resort property. The president told reporters that Vice President Mike Pence had been involved in the process, but he did not elaborate.

Trump brought four candidates for the position to Mar-a-Lago over the weekend for in-person interviews, McMaster among them. McMaster called the appointment a “privilege.”

It was not clear how closely McMaster’s and Trump’s views align. On Russia, McMaster appears to hold a much dimmer view than Trump of Moscow’s military and political objectives in Europe.

In remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in May 2016, McMaster said Russia managed to annex Crimea and intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine “at zero cost” from the international community.

McMaster said Moscow’s broader goal is to “collapse the post-Cold War security, economic and political order in Europe and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.”

In his current role, McMaster has been studying the way Russia developed and executed its campaigns in Crimea and Ukraine, where it used what some call “hybrid warfare” — part political, part disinformation, part military.

Sen. John McCain, an increasingly vocal Trump critic, called McMaster an “outstanding” choice.

“He is a man of genuine intellect, character, and ability. He knows how to succeed,” he said in a statement. “I give President Trump great credit for this decision, as well as his national security cabinet choices.”

The position of national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

 

Bill Nelson seems undaunted by prospect of primary challengers

Is Sen. Bill Nelson up for a contested Democratic primary in his re-election bid next year?

“You want to do a contest on pull-ups or push-ups?” Nelson replied to a reporter who asked that question during an informal news conference in Tallahassee Monday.

News reports have mentioned Tim Canova, who tried and failed to replace Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Congress, former U.S. Senate candidate Pam Keith, and state Sen. Randolph Bracy as primary challengers to Nelson, 74, widely seen as a moderate at a time when his party is enflamed by anti-Donald Trump fervor.

Nelson pointed to 2000, when Republicans lured state House Democratic leader Willie Logan into an independent race, hoping to divert enough African American votes to throw the election to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Connie Mack to their candidate.

“With about five candidates in the race, he got something like 1 percent of the vote,” Nelson said.

Nelson visited Tallahassee to speak to STEM students at Florida A&M University and deliver a pep talk to the Senate Democratic caucus.

“My message is going to be: It’s worth it to keep fighting for your values.”

He acknowledged re-election won’t be easy — particularly if Gov. Rick Scott gets in as expected and invests some of his personal fortune.

“We have to assume that the Democratic candidates for governor and in my race for the Senate will always be outspent,” Nelson said.

“In the federal races, you have so many of these unlimited, undisclosed PACs. It makes it harder for me to raise large sums of money. Until the Supreme Court changes that or Congress does, it will be an imbalance.”

Will Trump be a factor?

“You’re guess is as good as mine,” he said.

Democratic senators must defend 10 states that Trump won, including Florida. Nelson observed that many of those margins were quite close — 116,000 in Florida, 50,000 in Pennsylvania, 30,000 in Michigan, and 10,000 in Wisconsin.

And this — “You omitted the big factor. Charles Schumer. He’s a money-making machine,” Nelson said, referring to his Senate party leader.

He praised Stephen Bittel, the new chairman of the Florida Democratic Party for his fundraising ability — not easy, he said, in a state where Republicans dominate government and the lobbying corps.

“Stephen, he’ll go around the lobbying corps,” Nelson said. “He’ll go to all his outside contacts.”

Nelson talked up legislation he and Marco Rubio have filed that would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess and redistribute shares of the Chattahoochee-Flint-Apalachicola river system to be fair to Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

And he warned that turning Medicaid into a block grant program, as many Republicans in Washington and Tallahassee would like to do, would deal a “double whammy” on poor people in states like Florida, which didn’t expand coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Florida child protection investigator arrested for lying in possible sex abuse case

A former child protection detective in Florida was arrested for lying in an ongoing investigation involving the possible sexual assault of a child, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Children and Families confirmed Monday.

According to court records, Brittanee Sharmayne Carter, 27, was taken into custody by agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

She was charged with two felony counts of altering or destroying the records of a minor in study under custody, court documents confirmed.

DCF spokeswoman Jessica Sims said Carter was terminated from her position in February 2016.

“The actions of this individual were absolutely unacceptable, and the Department has no tolerance for any violation of the public trust,” Sims told FloridaPolitics.com by email. “When these allegations surfaced, an investigation was initiated by the DCF inspector general and law enforcement was notified during the course of the investigation. Allegations of falsification of records were reported to the DCF IG Feb. 2, 2016. Ms. Carter resigned Feb. 3, 2016.”

Carter fictitiously reported she had visited various elementary schools in the Tallahassee area in the course of an investigation regarding a child had been sexually assaulted, according to records.

She told investigators that it was difficult for her to keep up with her caseload at times and would confuse facts, The Associated Press reported.

“We appreciate FDLE’s assistance in holding this individual accountable,” Sims said. “When the IG investigation is complete, the full redacted IG report will be posted on our website.”

Carter was only in custody for a little more than an hour before posting bail on a $1,000 bond. It was not clear if she had yet retained a lawyer.

Attempts to contact her were unsuccessful before the publishing of this story.

Lottery says it’s generated $1 billion for education this year

The Florida Lottery, now being sued by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Monday said it had reached “another record – $1 billion in contributions to education for the 15th consecutive year.”

On Friday, Corcoran – a Land O’ Lakes Republican – filed suit against the state agency for “wasteful and improper spending” for signing a multiyear, $700 million deal for new equipment.

The Lottery reports to Gov. Rick Scott.

In a press release, it said it had “reached the $1 billion mark for this fiscal year earlier than any other year in Florida Lottery history. This brings the Lottery’s life-to-date education contributions to more than $31 billion.”

The state’s fiscal year runs July 1-June 30. Lottery proceeds go into the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which helps pay for public education.

“This milestone would not have been possible without the support of our loyal players, dedicated retailers and hardworking Lottery staff,” Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie said in a statement.

“The Lottery will continue working hard every day to advance our mission of maximizing contributions to education in a manner that is consistent with the dignity and integrity of the state.”

The release added: “Florida Lottery contributions represent approximately six percent of the state’s total education budget. Lottery funds are appropriated by the Florida Legislature and are administered by the Florida Department of Education.”

Corcoran sued the Lottery “for signing a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.” The deal, with International Game Technology (IGT), will provide the Lottery with new retailer terminals, in-store signage, self-service lottery vending machines, self-service ticket checkers and an upgraded communications network.

In a press release last September, the company said the contract is for an initial 10-year period, and the Florida Lottery “simultaneously exercised the first of its three available three-year renewal options.”

But Corcoran’s suit asserts “there is insufficient budget authority for the contract to be paid under the current appropriation assuming current conference estimates of ticket sales,” according to a press release from his office.

 

 

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