Florida Five: Study shows perks of Miami/Orlando rail, Illegals rack up hospital bills

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

all aboard 1Study: Passenger rail would boost economy by $6.4 bil: Construction of the planned passenger rail line that links Miami and Orlando would generate more than 10,000 jobs during its two-year construction, according to a consultant’s analysis released Wednesday. The project also would add $6.4 billion to Florida’s economy over the next eight years, according to The Washington Economics Group Inc., which was hired by All Aboard Florida to measure the economic impact of its proposal.That impact includes $2.4 billion in labor income through 2021 and $653 million in tax revenue. Read more. 

Gaetz defends Florida’s congressional maps: Senate President Don Gaetz testified Wednesday that Republican legislative leaders wanted to have the most “open, inclusive, fair” redistricting process in Florida history.And that meant allowing GOP political consultants to have just as much say as anyone else.Gaetz, R-Niceville, spent more than five hours on the witness stand in a Leon County courtroom defending the Legislature’s 2012 re-drawing of congressional maps, denying it was a process “brokered” by anyone other than he and House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican who had testified a day earlier. Read more. 

Illegals suck up funds: How far should taxpayers go to fund others’ health care?: A state appellate court has removed any confusion over whether Floridians are footing the health-care bill for undocumented immigrants.Taxpayers are indeed paying for emergency room visits, but how much deeper into our wallets should we go? The controversy involves the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration — responsible for the federal-state Medicaid program in Florida — and a group of hospitals that want to maintain a more generous level of funding. The dispute is years in the making and involves hundreds of millions of dollars.The 1st District Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last week but did not issue a final ruling. Read more. 

Joe Garcia’s errors feed GOP hunger to toss him out in November: As Joe Garcia becomes a national punchline, Republicans have reasons to smile, even as David Rivera remains in the race.Garcia has had an awful two weeks due to his own blunders. A video taken during a committee hearing showing Garcia digging in his ear and then eating his own earwax took off with millions of viewers taking it in. The South Florida Democrat didn’t help himself by insisting he was actually going after a fingernail. Read more.

VA-FL-security-300x300Florida VA boots disorderly vets with PTSD: Several combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder were denied access to a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Viera because their service dogs apparently didn’t have the proper paperwork. Read more. 

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