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Lawmakers don't merit raise now, says one

By Times Wires
Published June 7, 2003

Lawmakers should not be taking a pay raise July 1 after postponing pay raises for all other state employees until Dec. 31, says Rep. Ron Greenstein, D-Coconut Creek.

Greenstein wants fellow legislators to postpone the pay raise when they gather in special session June 16 so it will coincide with other raises. Lawmakers are due a 2.5 percent increase in their $29,000 salaries.

"What makes us so special that we should get a pay raise before any other state employee?" asked Greenstein on Friday. "It certainly isn't because of the stellar job of this Legislature."

In tough times, legislators should not be rewarded, he added.

Lawmakers approved the pay raise on the final night of a 16-day special session when they approved the state's new $53.5-billion budget.

Use federal windfall now, senator urges governor

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has jumped into a legislative squabble over a billion-dollar windfall Florida will get from the federal government.

Gov. Jeb Bush wants to save the money to help the state deal with budget problems next year.

In a letter to Bush on Friday, Nelson said the state should use the money to deal with immediate economic problems because that's what Congress had in mind when the money was appropriated.

Florida already has more than $1.1-billion in reserves, Nelson noted. Now it needs to "nourish essential government services."

Cuban-American makes Coast Guard history

MIAMI - A U.S. Coast Guard officer with 12 years of service became the first Cuban-American to be given command of a cutter.

Lt. Jorge Martinez, 31, took command Thursday of the 110-foot Maui based in Miami Beach.

"It's an honor for me and my parents," said Martinez, who was 7 when his family left Cuba. "The mission is difficult and dangerous, but it's one I believe in and I'm eager to start."

Part of his mission will be to intercept and repatriate Cubans who flee the communist island and try to enter the United States illegally, something Martinez has mixed feelings about.

"It tugs at the heart strings a little bit, but it's a mandate and it's part of my mission," he said. "I understand and empathize with what they are trying to do, but there are legal ways of coming to this country."

Martinez joined the Coast Guard in 1991 and graduated from the branch's academy in New London, Conn. in 1995. He was executive officer on the Maui for two years before spending three years on land duty.

[Last modified June 7, 2003, 01:48:25]

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