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Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Steve Bousquet

Steve Bousquet is the Tampa Bay Times' Tallahassee bureau chief. He joined the Times in 2001 after 17 years at the Miami Herald, where he held a variety of positions including Tallahassee bureau chief, and he previously was a reporter at TV stations in Miami and Providence, R.I. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a master's in history from Florida State University.

Bousquet was a contributor to two editions of The Almanac of Florida Politics and to The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, an account of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

Phone: (850) 224-7263


Twitter: @SteveBousquet

  1. Putnam 'disappointed, not surprised' by Scott's new budget snub


    Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam immediately criticized Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget, which has $1 billion in tax cuts but no pay raises for state forestry firefighters, who earn an average of about $27,000 a year. The full text of the statement Putnam issued Monday:

    "I’m disappointed that the governor left Florida wildland firefighter salary increases out of his budget, but I’m not surprised after last year’s veto. With a starting salary of $24,000 per year, our firefighters are at least as deserving as those who got pay increases last year and those who have pay increases included in the budget this year. I look forward to working with the Legislature again to meet the needs of our wildland firefighters.”...

  2. Gov. Rick Scott pitches 'Florida First' budget of $79.3 billion


    JACKSONVILLE -- Gov. Rick Scott on Monday proposed a $79.3 billion budget for next year that would spend more on schools, cut taxes by $1 billion and eliminate nearly 1,000 more full-time jobs from the state workforce.

    Scott rolled out his spending plan at Harbinger, a sign-making company on Jacksonville's south side where owner Roger Williams and dozens of his workers helped to promote Scott's call to permanently end the sales tax on equipment used in manufacturing....

  3. Gov. Rick Scott's proposed 'Florida First' budget: $79.3B, tax cuts

    State Roundup


    Gov. Rick Scott on Monday proposed a $79.3 billion budget for next year that would spend more on schools, cut taxes by $1 billion and eliminate nearly 1,000 more full-time jobs from the state workforce.

    Scott rolled out his spending plan at Harbinger, a sign-making company on Jacksonville's south side where owner Roger Williams and dozens of his workers helped to promote Scott's call to permanently end the sales tax on equipment used in manufacturing....

     Gov. Rick Scott talks to the media after announcing his state budget proposal which would cut taxes by $1 billion and add $250 million for economic development incentives Monday, Nov.23, 2015, at Harbinger Signs in Jacksonville, Fla. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP) FLJAJ104
  4. NRA blasts Trujillo for 'orchestrated betrayal' of gun owners' rights


    From Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida:

    Gun-rights advocates are targeting a Miami lawmaker after a bill to broaden the state's controversial "stand your ground" law was scuttled at the Capitol. The National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida emailed its members Thursday calling the actions by House Criminal Justice Chairman Carlos Trujillo an "orchestrated" betrayal of "law-abiding gun owners," as the measure died on a 6-6 vote two days earlier.

    Trujillo and Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, joined four Democrats in opposing the measure, which proposed to shift the burden of proof to the state in cases involving the "stand your ground" law. Under the 2005 law, people can use deadly force and do not have a duty to retreat if they think it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

    "It is important to recognize and remember the committee members who were loyal to the Constitution and your right of self-defense --- as well it is the betrayers," said the email from Marion Hammer, an influential lobbyist for both groups. Hammer told The News Service of Florida she was "shocked" by the vote, but declined further comment, saying her email blast, with "Betrayal" in its subject line, spoke for itself. The tie vote came after Democrats were able to attach a pair of amendments to the bill that stripped some enforcement powers from the proposal.

    Hammer accused Trujillo in the email of asking two Republicans to "walk" out of the room prior to the committee votes.

    "Why would a chairman ask committee members to 'walk' before a vote?" Hammer said in the email. "Simple, if they were not there to vote against the bad amendments, the amendments would pass --- and they did. And, if they are not there to vote in favor of a bill, the bill will be killed. And it was."

    Rep. Ray Pilon, a Sarasota Republican who was one of two panel members who missed the votes on the amendments, rejected the implication that he left to assist the Democrats or Trujillo.

    "I'm being blasted over that, and it's just not fair," Pilon said Friday. "Trujillo, he asked me to walk and I said, 'No, I'm not going walk.' But I said, 'I'm going to do my bill and if I make it back, I make it back.' "

    Pilon left the Criminal Justice Subcommittee while the amendments were being discussed, as a health care-related bill (HB 313) he is sponsoring was up at the same time before the Health Quality Subcommittee.

    "I would have voted no on those amendments," Pilon said. "I did not walk on those amendments. The other committee was running through their bills very quickly and had I not gone when I did, my bill would not have been heard in its first committee."

    Rep. Chris Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who was absent for the votes on the amendments and the overall bill, was not immediately available for comment Friday.

    The vote represented a rare defeat for the gun-rights groups, which continue to otherwise enjoy success in the Capitol.

    After the panel voted Tuesday, Hammer said she is one to "never make predictions" when asked if the gun rights groups would make a target of Trujillo, a former prosecutor. However, she also said she would continue to push for the bill.

    "It will be back until it passes, period," Hammer said. "In the meantime, the people can pay attention and elect people who are more sympathetic to them than prosecutors."

    The House vote hasn't stopped the Senate from continuing to advance a similar measure (SB 344), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island. The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee voted 5-1 on Wednesday to advance the measure....

  5. Lawmakers want to advertise 'the truth' about rising property taxes paying for increased education spending


    TALLAHASSEE — When Gov. Rick Scott rolls out his budget proposal today, he'll talk about spending more money on schools, but some fellow Republicans say he's not telling taxpayers the whole truth.

    A spike in school spending will have to come from higher property taxes on businesses and homeowners in Florida, and that has Republican lawmakers demanding the full story be told.

    "This has got to stop," said Republican Rep. Fred Costello of Ormond Beach....

    Gov. Rick Scott will roll out his budget proposal today. One topic will be spending more money on public education. Some fellow Republicans say he’s not telling taxpayers the whole truth.
  6. Not red, not blue: Explosion of no party voters tilts Florida politics


    The state of Florida is seeing an explosion in unaffiliated voters, many of them young and Hispanic, who are deserting the two major parties in droves and altering the composition of the electorate in the third-largest state. Within a decade, some experts predict, Florida will be a "triple-parity" state, with equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and NPAs, or voters with no party affiliation....

  7. Joyner honored as first inductee of FAMU Law's Hall of Fame


    Florida Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa is being honored Friday as the first inductee of the Florida A&M University law school's Hall of Fame.

    Joyner, a pioneering civil rights activist, lawyer and legislator,  was a member of the class of 1968, the last graduating class of the original FAMU College of Law in Orlando. The school will unveil a portrait of the senator as part of a campaign to raise $100,000 for the Arthenia Joyner Endowed Scholarship by Dec. 1. Members of the legislative black caucus are expected to attend the event, scheduled for 4 p.m. at the law school in Orlando....

  8. GOP lawmakers on Scott and higher taxes: 'This has got to stop'


    When Gov. Rick Scott rolls out his budget proposal in Jacksonville next Monday, he will likely highlight tax cuts and more money for public education. But a spike in school spending will likely have to come from higher property taxes on small businesses and homeowners, and that has some Republican legislators angry.

    "This has got to stop," says Republican Rep. Fred Costello of Ormond Beach....

  9. Dramatic rise of renegade 'no party' voters is reshaping state politics


    TALLAHASSEE — Three simple letters have ignited a civic rebellion in Florida that could reshape the state's politics for decades to come.

    The letters are NPA. It's short for no party affiliation, for voters who refuse to label themselves Republicans or Democrats because they do not identify with either party.

    They are deserting the two major parties in droves, mostly in South Florida and in greater Orlando, and many are young and Hispanic....

    Hillsborough County supervisor of elections staffers Ida Booth, left, and Edwin Crawford help register first-time voters, including Edwin Cobos, bottom left, and Sergio Acuna, recently at Sickles High School.
  10. Scott's budget will include pay raise package for FDLE analysts


    Gov. Rick Scott's upcoming budget recommendations will include generous pay raises for a select group of analysts and supervisors at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in an effort to reduce the high rate of turnover at FDLE's crime labs. The proposal will require legislative approval in the 2016 session.

    The No. 1 priority on FDLE's budget wish list is to give $10,000 raises to 261 analysts, $12,000 raises to 80 senior crime lab analysts and a base-pay increase to supervisors of $60,000 to $72,000 or a minimum 10 percent raise. For years, the agency has been losing experienced analysts to local law enforcement agencies that pay more. In the past five years, 107 analysts and supervisors have left FDLE, a turnover rate of 37 percent....

  11. Amid protests, Florida's environmental protection chief gets Senate backing


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's most controversial state agency head won a vote of confidence from senators Wednesday despite calls for his ouster from environmental groups.

    The 7-1 vote by a Senate committee was a step forward for Secretary Jon Steverson of the Department of Environmental Protection, whose $150,000-a-year job is on the line because the Senate refused to confirm him in the spring session. If not confirmed next session, he would be the first agency head in more than two decades to be ousted from office for failing to win Senate confirmation....

    Jon Steverson still must be confirmed by the Senate to keep his job.
  12. Gov. Scott's DEP chief gains vote of confidence from senators


    Gov. Rick Scott's chief environmental regulator, Jon Steverson, won a vote of confidence Wednesday from senators who rejected calls from the Sierra Club, League of Women Voters and others that he be ousted from his $150,000-a-year job.

    Steverson, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, is one of several state agency heads who was not confirmed by the full Senate in 2015. If he's not confirmed in the 2016 session, he'll have to resign, but it appears that won't be a problem, despite an ongoing controversy over Steverson's plans to study expanding commercial activity in state parks, such as hunting and timber harvesting. DEP says timber harvesting is a form of resource management to thin out timber stocks to natural density or rid parks of non-native species....

  13. Ethics commission again seeks fix for its 'greatest weakness'


    For nearly two decades, Florida's Commission on Ethics has sought the power to tackle investigations on its own, without waiting for a complaint to be filed. For all that time, the Legislature, which writes the ethics laws, has said no -- the same Legislature whose members are frequently subjects of ethics inquiries.

    The idea will be back before state lawmakers in the 2016 session that begins in less than two months. It once again will face an uphill fight in a Capitol where the powers-that-be have long insisted that ethics watchdogs be kept on a very short leash....

  14. Former Florida first lady Rhea Chiles remembered for grace, compassion


    History, family and faith converged Monday as Florida warmly said goodbye to Rhea Chiles.

    The widow of former Gov. Lawton Chiles died last week at age 84. She was first lady during the 1990s, the "inner voice" Chiles said he heard giving him sage advice.

    Mrs. Chiles was many things: child advocate, painter of Florida's natural beauty, restorer of old homes and lover of board games who hated to lose....

    Rhea Chiles, widow of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, died last week at age 84.
  15. Rhea Chiles' faith, grace and compassion fondly remembered


    History, politics, family and faith met as one Monday in a joyous celebration of a life well-lived at the funeral service for Rhea Grafton Chiles, a former First Lady of Florida.

    Mrs. Chiles died Nov. 8 at age 84 at her home on Anna Maria Island. She was the wife of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, who served from 1991 until Dec. 12, 1998, when he died of a heart attack three weeks before his term was due to end. Former Gov. Buddy MacKay, the lieutenant governor who completed Chiles' term, was among the dozens of former state officials on hand....