Florida: 5 Things To Know For September 15

Your daily look at news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.


When Gov. Rick Scott surprisingly entered the Republican primary four years ago, he took a strong tea party stand on most issues. He vowed to cut government spending and debt; slash taxes to create jobs and enact a tough Arizona-styled immigration law. As an incumbent seeking a second term, Scott still talks about the need for tax cuts and jobs but other parts of his platform have been jettisoned. Now Scott promises to spend more on education and the environment if re-elected. The state budget has grown by billions of dollars under his watch. This past year Scott signed into law a measure that guarantees in-state tuition rates for Florida high school graduates who may be in the country illegally, and he never did push for an Arizona-style law. What’s behind the change?


A new report says a rising concentration of income among the nation’s richest households is a problem for Florida because it is one of 10 states most dependent on sales taxes. Florida has no state income tax and its major source of revenue is a 6 percent sales tax. The report by credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s notes that the annual growth rate in the state’s sales tax has dropped dramatically over the last three decades.


Florida state guidelines require children with traumatic injuries to be taken to a trauma center specializing in pediatric care, but the Tampa Bay Times finds dozens of Florida kids are instead taken to adult centers that may be unable to treat them. The result can mean crucial delays in care.


A freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University has died after being found in apparent “distress” at a dorm. University Vice President Susan Evans told the News-Press of Fort Myers that rescue crews were called to the Biscayne Village dorm around 4 a.m. Sunday. A university police report lists 19-year-old Austin Lee Vonckx of Pasco County as having trouble breathing and “possibly intoxicated.”


The Florida Highway Patrol says a Road Ranger is recovering after he was hit by a drunk driver on Interstate 95. The crash happened Sunday in the northbound lanes of I-95 in Miami. Spokesman Joe Sanchez told The Miami Herald troopers were in the area handling several accidents due to bad weather when the ranger was injured. He is a member of the crews that offer free roadside assistance on South Florida highways and was assisting troopers when he was struck.