The Sunshine Economy

Tom Hudson

Hurricane Irma dealt a blow to the agriculture industry in South Florida. Local damage estimates are still being calculated, but initial figures put it at around $250 million in Miami-Dade County alone. It’s too early to tell what the price of the storm will be for Palm Beach County farmers. The sugarcane harvest begins this month and crop loss will become more apparent.

AP Photo/Steve Cannon

By the time you read this, Florida lawmakers may have a proposed budget agreement. That's how fast multi-billion dollar decisions are made in the final hours of the Florida legislative session.

The state budget needs to land by late Tuesday in order for legislators to vote on it by Friday, the scheduled end of the regularly scheduled 2017 session. If there's a spending plan that passes the House and Senate and Gov. Rick Scott agrees to it, there won't be a need for a special session to come up with the budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.

Tom Hudson

Big cruise companies like Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Corp. are increasingly turning to technology to step up their passengers’ on-board experiences and make boarding the ships more efficient in all aspects, including the design.

 

Tom Hudson

Consistently, voters say the economy is one of the top issues in the race for the White House. It ranks higher than any social issue, gun rights or immigration. If Florida voters are anything like voters elsewhere, it’s the economy that is the big issue as early voting in the state's presidential preference primary begins.

Tom Hudson

  Nobody would give Ian MacDonald a job when he came to Fort Lauderdale more than 30 years ago, so he says he started a company.

 

MacDonald was born in England, raised in Nigeria and now runs a company that makes underwater lights for boats.  Today, he has 11 employees, nine of whom are based in Fort Lauderdale. The combination sales office, showroom, and assembly area is in a small industrial park cradled in the northeast corner of the I-95/ I-595 exchange.

 

NehaSarin/Flickr

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed state budget includes $5 million for the creation of a database that would show all the costs and expenses associated with hospital treatment and other health care.

Scott says hospitals would have to post what they actually get paid for every procedure in order to prevent price gouging. He says patients and insurance companies should know the cost of health care treatments up front,  just as consumers know the cost of items at the grocery store.

Chabeli Herrera

Manny Miranda and R. David Paulison both grew up in South Florida. They grew up with the threat and reality of hurricanes. Both were here in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew cut a deadly swath through Miami-Dade County,  Paulison as the chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miranda overseeing the electrical power restoration in the communities devastated by Andrew.

Chabeli Herrera

  Carnival Corporation is one the largest publicly traded companies calling South Florida home. Its market value of more than $38 billion is eclipsed only by NextEra Energy, FPL's parent company. About 3,000 people work for Carnival in South Florida making it one of the top 20 employers in the region.

    Becoming an adult holds the promise of new freedoms -- no curfew, driving, maybe living on your own -- but as everyone who has been a teenager knows, it comes with more responsibility, financial responsibilities in particular, whether you are ready or not.

For the first time, WLRN led a summer program teaching six high schoolers how to tell their own stories through sound. Working with them provided unique insights into what they’re thinking about their economic futures -- a future that is statistically challenging.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

  In 24 years living and working in the Keys, I've had a bunch of different jobs. My longest commute was less than five miles. I felt pretty sorry for myself — because I had to get in the car every day.

Most of the time, my primary transportation has been my bike. That's not without some drawbacks. In summer, you have to prepare for downpours. And you can get sweaty just riding a mile across the island.

Chabeli Herrera

How South Florida gets around, or doesn't, is increasingly a matter of public debate. Climbing commuting times, more tolls and long-promised but never delivered public transportation projects like BayLink are pushing our collective patience. It costs commuters money and costs the economy lost productivity.

As the region has grown across political boundaries, transportation planning has not kept pace.

Tax Credits/ Flickr

For six months, hundreds of Miami-Dade-based companies are under closer than usual scrutiny by financial cops.

The businesses export electronics from five ZIP codes surrounding Miami International Airport. In April, the U.S. Treasury Department's FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) bureau slapped an order on the companies to report more of their business dealings involving cash. 

Lightblb on Flickr

"Hmm?" answered Sean Spicer to whether a Republican presidential nominee has to win in Florida in order to win the White House.

Spicer is the chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee. The RNC is not picking a favorite among the growing list of Republicans vying for their party's presidential nomination. But the party, like its Democratic counterpart, knows Florida's growing importance to the 2016 presidential race.

artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The first school year of new state assessment tests was troubled with testing delays, and some results will be ignored.

Listen above to our exclusive interview with Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Broward Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie about the troubled state assessment tests, technology in the classroom and education funding.

Plus, it was also the first year for the full implementation of Florida’s Common Core-based standards.  And Florida’s education policy plays into the 2016 race for the White House.  

Flickr Creative Commons

The debate that's been raging in Florida for five years: to expand Medicaid as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act or not?

Florida lawmakers have consistently decided "no." As other states with stiff opposition to Medicaid expansion, like Iowa and Indiana, have forged modified expansion plans that have been approved by the federal government, Florida has steadfastly rejected any change. 

Lawmakers return to the capital for a 20-day special legislative session today. They have to pass a budget by July 1 or risk a state government slowdown or shutdown.

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