A coalition of tea party groups is urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto the conservative Legislature's energy proposal, calling its revival of expired renewable energy tax credits "crony capitalism."
Scott received HB 7117, pushed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in an effort to start diversifying the state's energy sources, on March 30. He has until Friday to decide if it becomes law.
The tax incentives, meant to inspire increased renewable energy production to reduce dependence on natural gas, total $100 million over the next five years, the groups say. Speaking at a Tallahassee news conference Tuesday, Americans For Prosperity state director Slade O'Brien said coal and natural gas remain the cheapest sources of energy, so why give goodies to sectors that aren't competitive and will lead to increased energy bills?
"Please do not continue down the failed policy path of former Gov. (Charlie) Crist and President (Barack) Obama by allowing this bad bill to become law," reads an April 5 letter signed by AFP and about 100 other tea party and 912 Project groups from around the state.
"How much in crony renewable handouts is enough?" said James Taylor, Heartland Institute senior fellow.
Putnam responded to tea party criticism of his ideas last week, calling their concerns "rooted in a lack of good information."
Putnam said the credits are "technology agnostic" that rely on the marketplace, contrary to the groups' position that the government is choosing winners and losers.
"We're saying if you spend real capital, and put real bricks and mortar in the ground, and hire people, and are actually producing renewable fuel or electricity, then you are eligible for a tax credit," he said. "It is not an upfront subsidy to help you get there."
Tea party comes to Mack's aid
Rep. Connie Mack drew heat last week for saying the budget plan crafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan budget was a "joke."
But he isn't alone.
A number of tea party-backed House members also faulted it and Monday, a tea party organizer from Florida said he supports Mack, who has distanced himself from the critical remark.
Mack, a Republican, is running for U.S. Senate.
"The Paul Ryan Budget lacks a balanced budget within 20 years and increases government spending by trillions of dollars," said Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the South Florida Tea Party. "I praise Rep. Mack for speaking up about the out-of-control spending of D.C. and taking a strong fiscal stance. We need more representation in D.C. that challenges the status quo of special interest and spending."
Dems find challenger for Rivera
After weeks of intraparty turmoil, Democrats appear to have settled on a candidate to run against Republican Rep. David Rivera: Colombia-born businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses.
Roses announced her intention to run for the South Florida seat in a statement released Monday by the Florida Democratic Party — a sign that she has the backing of the Democratic establishment, which has been in disarray over how to challenge Rivera. State Rep. Luis Garcia of Miami dropped out of the race last week after accusing national Democrats of double-crossing him and recruiting other candidates. (Garcia is now running for Miami-Dade County Commission.)
Democrats initially tried to recruit former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas to run instead of Garcia. Once it became clear that he was leaning against a campaign, they looked elsewhere.
A political newcomer, Roses has never before run for office. She manages Nexus Homes, a business that partners investors with assisted-living operators in Florida.
Times staff writer Alex Leary and Miami Herald staff writer Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.