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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

FLORIDA INSIDER comments on most pressing issues facing Florida



Our latest Florida Insider Poll came out last week, looking at the state and effectiveness of Florida leadership. We had requests to publish more of the comments, so here's the first installment - what the lobbyists, former politicians, campaign pros, and other political elites said when asked to identify the most important issues facing Florida>


R: Economic development - finding a way to maintain our strength in Ag and tourism while adding new sectors.
R: The single biggest issue facing Florida is water, both with rising sea levels and, not as frequently acknowledged, our dwindling natural resources. We need to look hard and long at what has happened in California and work diligently to prevent a repeat in Florida. Central and South Florida are growing at rates that aren't sustainable under current usage and supply. Northwest and North Florida can't be expected to cede their natural resources to other areas of the state that have adequately planned. Tallahassee needs to own this issue and develop a plan that is fair to all of the state's residents and property owners. 
D: Education: inefficient financing structure; lacks accountability; no credible performance standards...Environment: call it climate change, global warming or sea level rise but much of coastal Florida is going to experience costly negative consequences but coastal development continues...Fiscal policy: tax structure doesn't support growth demands.
D: Our control of growth management, infrastructure and education. But mostly our antiquated tax system.
D: Budget / tax structure Health care (expansion of Medicaid); Education
R: The economy, and by extension the state's budget, rises and falls based on the growth environment (commercial and residential construction) and that fundamental has not changed since 2006-2008, when the bottom dropped out. Things are better in the budget only because that market rebounded, not because of any fundamental changes in the composition of our economy.  So basically, we're just waiting for those markets to collapse again to deal with the budgetary nightmares that ensue.  Education, health care, prisons, etc all suffer when those markets break bad.
D: Job creation and wage stimulation Infrastructure investment Educational reform
D: climate change and income inequality
R: Health care access, law enforcement funding
R: Economy
R: An economy that has yet to recover coupled with an economically illiterate President. 
NPA/Other: Given the demographics of the state, I have to say that the top issue Florida faces is how we get the most benefit from aging and especially relocating Boomers while building communities where people can live comfortably and actively as they age to minimize impact on government programs. ... A corollary: millions of Floridians are family caregivers, and they are struggling to juggle kids, aging parents, jobs, and their own health. We do little to nothing to help them....And one more: Florida has one of the lowest rates of availability of workplace savings. That is, almost half of Floridians have no 401K or 403b at work to save for their future.  We need to enable current workers to better prepare financially for their future.
D: Many are struggling acutely in this economy and suffer from lack of opportunity as to higher wage jobs, quality public education and support with health care. 
D: Access to quality health care, Water, and TRUST in government.
R: Improved k-12 education system, healthcare costs, water.
R: A Growing and Diverse Economy.
D: Climate change.
R: Healthcare coverage/expansion issue .....budget issues/taxes .....water....helping small business.
D: Economic disparity -- a growing population of poverty-level families and near-poverty level families, as detailed in United Way's statewide "ALICE" report about Asset-Limited Income Challenged Employed people....
R: implementing amendment 1 without raping it.
D: Wages
R: Economic stability/growth; Water; Infrastructure; Education
R: job growth - both job creation and addressing the under employed.
R: As identified by Ag. Commissioner Putnam and various legislators... Water policy - focusing on both water supply and water quality. And investing in the infrastructure required to support these policies. 
R: conservation of resources, education and high quality job growth, health care.
D: Creating new high paying jobs through sustainable economic development. ... Creating reliable, diverse and inexpensive transportation options to encourage corporate relocations and young people looking for the urban experience.
R: Over-regulation
D: Medicaid expansion, better salaries for teachers, need for conversion to solar energy.
D: Climate Change, Sea Level Rise
R: The economy and its sub-parts: the mix of sectors (manufacturing, info tech, tourism, real estate, etc.)
R: Economic Survival- not falling back in to a recession
D: Immigration and population growth, public education, water resources, and economic development
R: Economy, Water Policy
D: Access to Affordable Healthcare
NPA/Other: Economic growth, health care, and education 
D: Climate change and oceans rising.
D: Education
R: Continue growing the economy. Crime. Growth. Getting people off of welfare on into work. Fixing our K-12 public education. Keeping taxes low.
D: Public education funding.
R: Jobs, water, education
R: Jobs, economy
D: Income inequality. Lack of leadership....Half of Floridians cannot afford basic necessities such as groceries, gas, rent. This is a economic crisis extraordinaire.
R: Education, transportation.
D: Electing leaders at the statewide and legislative level who have a vision for the future of our state and can capture the will of the people around growing an economy with higher wage jobs, protecting our environment, addressing significant transportation issues, and building a better and more accountable education system from birth through postgraduate institutions.
D: Education- primary, secondary and our colleges and universities. It's our future. 
D: Sea-level rise, another housing crisis
R: It remains the protruding Medicaid budget hole.  The more folks we recruit into our state, the more we house them from 80 - 100 in our ALFs and SNFs.  There isn't a private payer so that Medicaid budget will continue to swell while no one is able to identify a permanent path forward.
R: Jobs. High influx of workers from north & Puerto Rico , sustainable w a strong hospitality industry gets complicated if travel slows down.
D: Fully funding PUBLIC  education and other services so crucial to a healthy state.
R: Transportation Infrastructure, Healthcare, State & Local Security
R: Water resources, prison reforms.
NPA/Other: State economy
R: Healthcare Policy and Funding; Education Policy and Funding; Water Policy
D: Healthcare related issues.
D: Creation of sustainable jobs; Higher ethics in state government; A better check on state government waste.
R: Jobs/economy, security/immigration, education reform, healthcare reform.
NPA: Economy, education, environment.
D: Medicaid reform.
R: 1) ensure working Floridians have access to affordable healthcare 2) Florida citizens acting out as a result of mental illness, substance abuse or PTSD should have access to appropriate treatment within 72 hours as an alternative to automatic incarceration.
D: Stopping the courts from usurping the legislature and the law.  Not only have the courts crossed the line on redistricting but it is obvious they think the court house is a church and they are the Gods who make the laws from the bench and bend opinions to their own political bias.  The courts have become a threat to democracy.  Failure to recognize this threat or be cowed by black robes is indicative of a decay in the leadership culture and a lack of statesmen in the Executive and Legislative branches.
R: The hidden tax increases, primarily through property taxes on increased home values, that are required to meet education funding demands in the state budget. 
D: Education, growth management, infrastructure.
R: continuing to improve the economy and job creation.
D: redistricting the Florida Senate and House and Florida's congressional districts...maintaining current taxes until Florida's infra structure: roads, bridges, all aboard Florida, schools at all level are sufficiently improved to rank Florida near the top of our peer states, not the bottom where we have sat in recent land planning and environmental policies to preserve Florida's beauty and its natural resources, particularly water.
R: Addressing health insurance for the underprivileged and tax relief.
R: Tax Cuts/Tax Reform and Scott's proposed $1 B cut
Education related to "common core" and teacher bonuses related to ACT/SAT scores; Insurance if a hurricane hits Florida; Vacation Rentals law will be revisited; Economic Development incentives; Gambling will come up; Health Care and the LIP program.
R: How to handle the needs of a growing population. I'm not really sure the Legislature gets it when dealing with real issues. The issues of the day are primarily driven by lobbyists. Medicaid expansion is a real issue that will eventually need to be addressed. 
D: First, climate change and the broad range of environmental, economic and public health impacts it will have on every region and every individual in our state....The numerous obstacles to everyday Floridians being able to have a voice in the democratic process and help shape public policy. Those obstacles include anti-democratic barriers to voting, to the immense power that corporate lobbyists wield in Tallahassee, to policy-making-payback for those who can afford to financially underwrite the political parties and their associated PACs.
D: Shrinking of the LIP funding pool.  Not sure Floridians understand the impact that could have on the state budget and those most vulnerable.
D: Public education. Environmental quality.
D: Stiffling innovation--our government needs to update our laws to help foster innovative solutions to today's problems rather than hinder them with outdated regulation (for example, Uber, AirBnb). People are utilizing these services at a high rate and we need to update our laws to enable people to use the online community....Women's issue-there is a constant "war on women" that continues among the republican party. Recently, there was a bill filed in FL legislature that would enable pharmacists to refuse birth control, nurses to refuse to perform medically necessary procedures, deny birth control, etc. This is scary and absurd....Taxes and fees-governments and agencies continue to raise taxes and fees. These taxes only go to create bigger government and more gov't bureaucracy....Healthcare--access to healthcare continues to be a major economical and health issue facing our state
R: Economic growth, education funding.
R: Terrorism, gun control, economy and jobs, and depending on next year's hurricane season - global warming, climate change or sea-level rise (or whatever the dems are trying to sell the public in an election year).
R: Lack of a proper employment pool as a result of lower than acceptable educational outcome by our public school system and a marked reduction of lending capacity by community banks to small businesses as a result of the Dodds-Frank onerous regulatory framework requirements
R: Traffic; water supply;
R: Water quality and quantity; Rising tides along Florida's coast; Corrupt Prison System; Need for Criminal Justice reform; 
Over-testing in schools
NPA: Clearing up the huge backlog of untested rape kits....Providing services for the large number of disabled and mentally ill Floridians who currently are being denied....Expanding Medicaid (and accepting the federal dollars to pay for it) to allow 100,000s of hard working low income Floridians to receive health insurance....Passing a budget that does not include tax cuts - It is morally bankrupt to allow these other situations to continue because of lack of funding while at the same time seeking to cut the budget by a billion dollars.
D: -Adequate funding for public education...Medicaid expansion...funding for amendment 1 and the environment...Corruption in government/campaign finance.
D: Access to healthcare
D: Public education funding...Health care for children and low income people...Improvement in mental health services....High stakes testing.
R: Jobs; Education; Crime.
NPA/Other: Perhaps not the most important, but of concern to me: the widening income gap; dark money's unfettered influence in local, state and national politics; a lack of education, job skills and-employment opportunities among lower-income individuals; increasing health insurance and medical care costs, including the continued growth of Medicaid; high ad-valorem taxes; and, a governor and Legislature not representative to Floridians in general due, largely, to past gerrymandering favoring one political party.
R: Diversifying the economy and attracting new businesses to Florida to move away from a service based economy.
NPA/Other: In a  state where some 75 percent of the population lives in coastline counties, the exigent challenge of climate change and sea level rise are met with an ideological shrug in Tallahassee,  mainly by  Republican elected officials.
D: For voters, cost of healthcare, quality public education and levels of corruption in government....For the legislature it's the three Gs: gaming, guns and the Governor! 
D: Environment, jobs and economy.
R: Immigration
R: Economy
R: Domestic terrorism; economy; local pensions.
D: Implementing strategies to combat global climate change such as development of alternative sources of energy like solar, wind, and geothermal energy. 
R: Education and testing standards...Management of LIP
D: Water. Mismanagement, overconsumption and pollution of our water resources is killing entire industries that are a critical part of our Florida culture and economy. It's been a problems for decades and no one knows what to do about it.
R: Health care...Economic diversification...Infrastructure improvement
NPA/Other: Climate change--for obvious reasons. Availability of fresh water in view of our abusive wasteful practices--excessive consumption, pollution of the aquifer.
D: preemption of municipalities related to firearms.
D: The top issue is the lack of investment in Florida's infrastructure and people.Our lack of investment in education, long-term care, transportation infrastructure, environmental protections... all because of the priorities of the legislature to cut taxes for businesses and wealthy.  Only Washington DC and Nevada spend less per capita.
D: The health, welfare and education of our children.  
R: Continuing the make Florida the destination for business should always be the most important issue we focus on. We need to continually do whatever we can to help support the economy and get government out of the way. 
R:   The same issue that has dominated Florida for the past half century:  handling massive growth and all of its related problems (sprawl, roads and bridges, quality schools, water quality and supply, environmental protection) while operating on a shoe-string budget.
R: Economic growth, health care expansion for low income Floridians;more  funding for public schools, expansion of parental choice, vouchers and provision of tax credits  in K-12  education and reform of our penal system.
D: 1. Water -- While the Florida Legislature is poised to pass legislation impacting water supply, the same bill could also endanger the natural health of some of our most important water bodies. The goals of supply and quality are not mutually exclusive. If we are going to address the water crisis, let's handle it in a balanced way. ... 2. Preservation -- In 2014, voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to set aside funds for acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands. Some state leaders have strangely decided to use those funds to replace old cars and boats or fix roads. If we are to preserve Florida's unique quality of life, the Legislature needs to follow the will of the people. ... 3. Infrastructure -- Like every other state in the nation, our infrastructure is crumbling. State government needs to find innovative solutions so that our roads, transit systems, sewers, energy grid, and information networks can support the needs of a large and growing population.
D:  Healthcare, education, and the potential impact of global warming on our coastal communities.
R: 1) Diversifying the economy beyond tourism, real estate development and agriculture....2) Tackling water quality and supply issues to account for our 20 million+ (and growing) residents, tourists, agriculture and industrial users....3) Improving the quality of K-12 education to provide employers with a first rate 21st century workforce and create a new generation of innovators and job creators.
R: Continuing to implement the mandates of the affordable care act.
NPA/Other: Security--economic and personal
R: Economy
R: Medicaid expansion.
D: Economy
R: Water. Florida wastes billions of gallons of freshwater each year. As our population surpasses 20 million, ensuring that water remains on the pensinusla and flows through the Everglades is paramount.
R: Economy...Long-term water quality and quantity issues
R: Continued economic growth...Coastal flooding and changing weather effects...Water issues (water supply, salt water intrusion, algae blooms)...Amendment 1 funding for beach renourishment.
R: Education. Infrastructure and ALL the Traditional State Government functions being "pushed out" by Medicaid (now 23% of General Revenue expenditures).
R: Restructuring of power industry: In Pennsylvania and other states, consumers can choose their power company. Not in Florida....
Water: Florida's population is about to outstrip its ability to provide clean water. We need solutions that accommodate economic growth....Prisons: Privatizing was probably a good idea, but the funding levels and the specifications for running privatized prisons need to be re-examined and adjusted....Child Protective Services: This is another area in which efficiency counts, but when government has to provide a service, it needs to do it well....Taxation and Cost Of Services: Reducing the size of government is not a bad thing, but simply shifting the burden to the local level isn't really productive, either.
D: The ever-tightening squeeze on the middle class. In Florida, the middle class is living with constant insecurity. Folks are working harder than ever, boosting productivity to record highs, but their wages have been flat or declining for over a decade. More jobs than ever are part time, especially in Florida’s tourism-rich economy. The workforce itself has also changed dramatically; despite record numbers of households headed by women, many Florida jobs lack any form of paid leave. Since 2010, the economy has been growing faster than 2% per year, but middle class incomes have shrunk by 1%. The gains have been going to the top, not the middle class, and voters know it.
R: I think ridding the state of Florida of Common Core and all Common Core mandated electronic state testing and implementing a classic education curriculum will help Florida's students immensely. Secondly, the state needs e verify to stop the influx of people here illegally and third stop the expansion of gambling.
D: Electing a new governor.
R: Rising insurance rates, state failing to be prepared for next technologies. Underfunding of mental health and substance abuse.
R: water, water, water and jobs.


[Last modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 5:44pm]


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