Ex-Bush aide signs up with Haley Barbour
In what may be a sign that Haley Barbour is ready to go from potential presidential contender to candidate, the Mississippi governor has signed up veteran Florida political strategist Sally Bradshaw. Bradshaw said she is joining the Barbour campaign and will be doing work for his political committee. "If he becomes a presidential candidate I'll work for him here," she said. Bradshaw, 45, was former Gov. Jeb Bush's top political adviser for more than a decade and in 2008 worked on the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. After surveying the field for 2012, Bradshaw believes it's "wide open" and that Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman and head of the Republican Governors Association, "is the right fit for me." Barbour has said he won't announce his White House intentions until April, after the Mississippi Legislature ends its session.
Simmons' cut to education grows
On Friday, Sen. David Simmons, the Altamonte Springs Republican who chairs the preK-12 budget subcommittee, had unveiled a preliminary proposal showing a 2.28 percent cut to education funding. Monday, Simmons' plan was up to a 6.5 percent cut — much closer to the 7.7 percent number the House put out last week, though still less than the 10 percent proposed by Gov. Rick Scott. The larger cut is due to the $739 million in education funding the state would lose by requiring state employees to pay into their pensions. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, said she wants to avoid a "bumper sticker" that says lawmakers balanced the state budget "on the backs of teachers." "We're really flying in the dark here," said Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach. "Obviously there are going to be reductions. Maybe it won't look as good as we thought it could look."
Bill seeks higher campaign limits
Candidates for governor could collect contributions of up to $10,000 for both primary and general elections races under a bill approved Monday by the Senate Rules Subcommittee on Ethics and Elections. Currently, all state candidates are limited to donations of no more than $500, one of the strictest caps in the country. Contributions under SB 1690 would increase to $5,000 for Cabinet races and $2,500 for state legislative candidates. The bill does nothing to improve disclosure laws.
Scott names new surgeon general
Gov. Scott has named a former Florida Medical Association president and retired military doctor as the state's surgeon general. Scott announced the appointment of Dr. Frank Farmer of Ormond Beach on Monday. He also will serve as secretary of the Department of Health. Farmer chaired the Florida Board of Medicine, which oversees the licensure and discipline of physicians. Farmer succeeds Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros, who was appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist. Scott also announced Liz Dudek will go from interim to permanent secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees Florida's Medicaid program.
Times/Herald staff writers Mary Ellen Klas, Michael C. Bender and Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.