Florida lawmakers balk at legal bill for water war with Georgia

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Oystermen head out early from Eastpoint, Fla. for a day of fishing in the Apalachicola Bay. Dan Chapman, dchapman@ajc.com

Over at the Saporta Report, David Pendered writes that the legal bills for the lengthy court fight with Georgia over water are creating some financial friction in Florida:

Florida lawmakers balked Tuesday at a request for an additional $13 million. In response to the opposition, the request was withdrawn, records show.logo-all

 

Even the $13 million would not cover a shortfall now forecast at $17.1, according to information on the agenda of Florida’s joint House-Senate Legislative Budget Commission.

It’s costing us serious cash, too. As reported last week:

The public cost for Georgia’s seemingly never-ending legal battle with its neighbors over water ballooned to nearly $30 million over the last year.

 

Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order this week shifting $3.5 million from his emergency fund to pay the latest tab for the legal feud. That’s on top of another $26 million Deal set aside last year for the case’s legal fees, according to Deal’s office.



 

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Gov. Nathan Deal sent a not-so-subtle message on Tuesday to supporters of casino gaming: If legislators want his support, or want to avoid his opposition, they need to boost funding for the REACH scholarship.

And he went a step further a day later at a celebration for the program, which mentors high-achieving middle school students. The scholarship, he said, was a “life-changing program for almost 700 promising students who also happen to be in need of some additional funding to attend college here in Georgia.”

He told the audience he hopes to grow the program to include about 3,000 students by 2020. Hint, hint.

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, spoke at LaGrange College on Thursday night. From the Macon Telegraph:

The crowd gave Lewis a standing ovation at the beginning and end of his half-hour speech.

Lewis never mentioned Trump or his boycott of the inauguration. Instead, his message – often overwhelmed by applause — focused on urging folks, especially students, to continue [Martin Luther] King’s vision by improving their community, country and world.

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It looks like we have another entrant in the race to replace Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell. This Twitter account for Bob Gray, an IT executive who serves on the Johns Creek city council, recently popped up.

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President Donald Trump’s diplomatic spat with Mexico on Thursday prompted his administration to float the idea of slapping a 20 percent import fee on all goods produced in Mexico – as a way to pay for the border wall.

This has:

1) Prompted a somewhat premature discussion of a House Republican plan to shift the tax burden from goods produced in the U.S. to goods imported into the U.S. – from all countries; and

2) Introduced the irony that Walmart customers, not Mexico, could end up paying for the wall. From the New York Times:

David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, said that retailers would have no choice but to raise prices.

“I really hope everybody understands that what they’re really talking about is a 20 percent tax on the U.S. consumer,” he said on Thursday. “That’s like building the wall and having the U.S. consumer pay for it.”

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President Donald Trump’s friendship with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin could face an early test, according to today’s Wall Street Journal:

Russia is making fresh inroads into Afghanistan that could complicate U.S. efforts to strengthen the fragile Kabul government, stamp out the resilient Taliban insurgency and end America’s longest war.

This isn’t unexpected. Last week, the web site called The Diplomat noted an interview that Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, gave to a Turkish news agency:

Asked if he finds the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan disturbing Kabulov replies emphatically: “Of course … Why in Afghanistan? Where is Afghanistan and where is America!? If we did something like that in Mexico, would it not be disturbing for America? In Cuba, we have already experienced and we know the outcome. I think it is old fashioned.”


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