Saturday, October 17, 2009

Florida faces financial storm

Florida faces financial storm

By T. Johnson

Is this going to be the hurricane that hits Florida this year. With such tough times hitting the United States, Florida is really getting the brunt of the financial storm.

Source: The Tampa Tribune

Floridians want straight talk from public officials. They want to be able to form opinions on the direction our state is headed with all the facts on the table.
That's why I recently insisted that a required report on Florida's long-term financial outlook must disclose that our state faces billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities if it's hit by a major hurricane.

This disclosure isn't pleasant reading. But as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, I know that Floridians want and need to hear the truth.
So here it is: Our two state-run giants in the homeowner's insurance market - Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund - are seriously under funded. And it's the very people we aim to protect who will suffer the most if a storm hits and exposes the issue.
Combined, these two entities could wind up $14 billion short of the cash they will need to pay claims if a strong hurricane hits a metropolitan area.
How would Florida pay for this? The answer is that you - the insurance policyholder - would be asked to foot the bill, through assessments on your home, auto, boat and business policies.

It's complicated how we got here. But it's fair to say that the extreme risk of hurricanes we face each year, along with public policies that have plunged our state too far into the home insurance market - while chasing away private insurers - are two major factors.

I asked for the sobering disclosure on Florida's unfunded hurricane liability to be inserted into the Legislative Budget Commission's long-range financial outlook. The outlook is, in essence, the Legislature's annual report to Floridians about our state's financial condition.

Floridians should be aware that the CAT Fund - which provides backup insurance to private insurers - is on the hook to reimburse companies for up to $23 billion in hurricane losses this year.

Yet, the CAT Fund only has about $4.5 billion in cash and $3.5 billion in notes on hand. And experts believe the most it could bond under current global financial conditions is $8 billion. That leaves the CAT Fund with only $16 billion to pay claims - a sizeable 30 percent or $7 billion short of being able to meet its obligations.
Likewise, Citizens faces potential losses of $23 billion from a huge hurricane hitting Florida. Yet it also only has $16 billion in claims-paying capabilities - it has $4 billion in cash, $3 billion in financing and would receive $9 billion from the Cat Fund. That also leaves Citizens another $7 billion, or 30 percent, short.

And that's assuming that CPIC gets its full $9 billion reimbursement from the CAT Fund.

Clearly, Florida's at a tipping point. State government has dug itself far too deeply into the home insurance market. Most Floridians have absolutely no idea that they face the real possibility of being forced to pay thousands of dollars in assessments if disaster strikes.

We have a choice: We can allow Florida to dig itself even deeper into this financial hole, or we can take steps now to encourage private insurers to return and compete in this state and allow consumers to choose for themselves what they're willing to pay to protect their homes.
When all the facts are on the table, I believe Floridians will choose a strong, competitive private market over an under funded state system that relies on post-hurricane assessments to pay its bills.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tim Tebow and the Gators win over LSU

Logo of the University Athletic Association Inc.Image via Wikipedia

With Tebow's Return the Florida Gators Win over LSU

Even though it was not a stellar performance the Florida Gators won over LSU Tigers.

The final score was 13 to 3, Tim Tebow held his own and the defense rose to the occasion to help beat LSU 13-3 in front of 93,129, the largest attendance in the history of LSU's Tiger Stadium.

The Florida win snapped LSU’s Saturday night 32-game win streak as the Gators held the Tigers to just 162 yards total offense in Baton Rouge.

Florida returns home to Gainesville for a Homecoming weekend match up with the Arkansas Razorbacks Oct. 17 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

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University of Florida reports decline in Florida's Population

Recession causes Florida’s population to drop for first time since 1946
Author Tom Johnson

Florida’s recession has really hit Florida hard this year. For the first time since 1946 the recession has forced people to leave Florida and look for employment elsewhere, according to the latest population estimates from the University of Florida.

The state has lost more than 58,000 residents which is connected directly to Florida’s employment according to Stan Smith director of UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, who led the research.

The population loss — the first since 1946 — is spread across Florida because the factors that contributed to the decline exist statewide rather than regionally, Smith said.

The biggest percentage losses were found in less populated Union and Suwannee counties in North Florida, Smith said.

Read More: UF News

Friday, October 9, 2009

Florida State Seminoles, Bobby Bowden

Florida State Football, Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden the coach of the Florida State Seminoles football team, who is in the cross hairs of the fans and the school after the Seminoles started his 34th season with a 2-3 record so far.

Bowden claims that it is his age is the biggest reason he is being criticized. Bowden states that if he was 50 and not 79 there would be no problem. Bowden, whose 384 career victories are three behind Penn State's Joe Paterno for most wins in major college football history, said he will not decide whether to retire until after this season.

Bowden's contract expires Jan. 4, 2010. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has already been named Bowden's successor, and FSU would owe Fisher $5 million if he's not named head coach by January 2011.

Bowden hopes he'll be allowed to decide whether he'll coach the Seminoles in 2010.

"I feel like I will, but you don't know," Bowden said. "I don't know. I guarantee you I ain't going to worry about it one drop."

Source: ESPN

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Are Florida National Parks at Risk?

Author Tom Johnson

Are Florida National Parks at Risk?

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council 25 parks are risk from climate change. The agency release a report last Thursday stating that due to climate changes that 25 National Parks in grave danger, and calls for national action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report names Dry Tortugas, Everglades and Biscayne national parks, noting that all three could be lost to rising seas, “representing the first-ever losses of entire national parks.”


Read the report

Press Release
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The Storm over Florida

Author Tom Johnson


The Storm over Florida,

With escalating foreclosures and falling property values and the failing economy, people are walking away from their homes and leaving the state for points north of Florida.

Florida would be a great option for retirees to flock too, but the problem seems to be that they cannot sell their home in the north to come to Florida.

The newer retiree’s from the baby boomer group are choosing other places to retire than Florida. "People have a lot more options than just going to Florida. Many new retirement communities have been built in Maryland, Delaware, the Carolinas, and Georgia," reports E. Thomas Wetzel, president of the Retirement Living Information Center. "There's even a group of retirees called halfbacks, who went to Florida, didn't like it, came halfway back and settled in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky, where they get four seasons."

"Florida has definitely lost its edge," says William Haas, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, who has studied retiree migration in the U.S. He points to a slew of reasons, including the horrible hurricane season of 2004–2005 and rising property taxes and insurance rates, for why Florida is no longer such a draw, and he has the figures to prove it.

Between April 2008 and April 2009, the state actually lost population for the first time in more than 100 years.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

If you smoke you cannot apply...

Seal of Palm Beach County, FloridaImage via Wikipedia

As reported in the Post On Politics blog , if you want to work for the Palm Beach County Tax Collector in Florida then you have to be a non-smoker.

Beginning tomorrow Anne Gannon will no longer hire applicants who admit to the use of tobacco products. If you want to be considered for a job interview you will need to submit a “non-smoking affidavit”.

Gannon Stated “Gannon: “There’s not much to be said for smoking – it’s a major cause of respiratory and circulatory disease, it contributes to increased insurance costs for us and the Palm Beach County tax payers, it’s unhealthy to be around, and expensive these days.”

Palm Beach Tax Collector Office

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