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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Atwater's three priorities -- and three omissions



Read between the lines in the following note from Senate President Jeff Atwater to his constituents and you've got to wonder if he isn't contemplating the political dominoes falling if Gov. Charlie Crist decides to run for U.S. Senate. Atwater has made it clear he's interested in running for CFO, and that's a whole lot easier if Crist jumps ship and CFO Alex Sink starts running for governor.

Maybe it's the political winds but as the Florida Senate prepares to release its budget plan this week, Atwater sent out this note to show that he's focused on: 1. critical needs; 2. stimulating job growth; 3. government efficiency.

But you'd never know that 1. there's a $3 BILLION budget hole; 2. budget cuts are needed to fill it; 3. taxes and fees are needed to avoid those cuts.


Dear Neighbor,

I would like to take this moment to express my awareness of the challenges Floridians are facing and the strains on your family’s budget. As we continue our work during Florida’s Legislative Session, I wanted to give you a little insight as to what issues we will be tackling and what priorities stand at the forefront of our mission.

Our top priority is to sustain services for the critical needs of Floridians without taking more from your personal wallet. We must balance the protection of our most needy children, our elderly and our disabled populations while also ensuring the healthcare, education and safety for all of Florida’s families without breaking the bank.

Our next priority includes steps to improve Florida’s economic integrity by providing workforce incentives, stimulating infrastructure projects and removing bureaucratic red tape that hinders the growth of Florida’s businesses. We must attract new companies and preserve a climate where Florida’s private sector may expand and create new jobs for the 752,000 Floridians seeking employment.

Our third priority will be to improve our government’s efficiency and effectiveness to ensure that your tax dollars are being spent wisely. We are seeking to eliminate inefficiencies, remove duplication in government agencies and prioritize the budget to focus funding on the critical needs of Florida’s families.

I am dedicated to finding long-term and meaningful solutions to today’s challenges. We must not extract more from your family’s wallet, but must be responsible stewards of your current tax dollars. While we are currently entrenched in challenging times, I am confident that a brighter day will emerge and remain committed to a new, more efficient and accountable government in Florida.

All the best,


Jeff Atwater

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 7:33pm]


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