Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Romano: Florida — a state with a Walmart sensibility

Turns out, the similarities have been staring us in the face for years.

Price cuts = tax cuts.

Uninsured employees = uninsured residents.

No-frills merchandise = no-frills infrastructure.

Low wages = well, low wages.

Cheerful store greeter = Gov. Rick Scott.

It's obvious, isn't it? Florida is the Walmart of states.

Think about it. We're big. We're popular. And we're constantly talking about how cheap we are. It's as if we've ceded a higher class of living to those fancy-pants states with their mass transit, enviable education systems and high-tech jobs.

And, based on Scott's we-don't-need-no-stinking-revenue tour across the state, it doesn't look as if Florida will be Galleria-bound soon.

Because, in case you haven't noticed, the state has been bombarded recently with stories of critical agencies being treated like the remnants of a hostile takeover.

The Department of Corrections is a mess, with an audit citing a lack of training and dangerously low staffing levels. A judge last year blasted the Department of Health for failing to provide medical care for poor children.

Funding for disabled adults was cut last year, leaving families scrambling to find care. Alzheimer's patient care programs also were whacked.

A Tampa Bay Times/Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigation paints a frightening portrait of how mental health budget cuts have created chaos in state hospitals.

Florida is fourth in the nation in the percentage of uninsured residents, which means general revenue is diverted to pay massive hospital bills. And we're tied for last in the nation in the percentage of unemployment claims being paid out.

So in the face of all these budget shortfalls, and all of the suffering going on from the Panhandle to the Keys, what is Florida's solution?

Hey, let's provide more corporate tax cuts!

Scott is proposing another $1 billion in (mostly business) tax cuts in 2016, along with asking for an extra $250 million to offer out-of-state businesses to move to Florida.

In other words, he's doubling down on the notion that Florida's best chance for success is to bleed the budget dry and hope corporations ride to the rescue with high-paying jobs, health insurance and random acts of generosity.

Unfortunately, and historically, that plan hasn't really changed our destiny.

In 2006, the number of Fortune 500 companies that called Florida home was 14. All these years later, the number is 15. There are 10 states with smaller populations that have more Fortune 500 companies than Florida.

So is it possible the best companies want to be located in states with the best amenities? And maybe investments in schools, transportation and quality of life might yield greater returns?

Honestly, I like having a few extra bucks as much as anyone. But I can see where the $20 a year I'm saving on tax cuts for my cellphone might be better spent as part of a pile of several hundred million.

I'd rather prison guards get home safely at night. I'd rather nurses in psychiatric hospitals don't fear for their lives. I'd rather disabled children aren't treated like inconvenient nuisances. I'd rather invest in a little state housekeeping instead of trying to do everything on the cheap.

Although I suppose, on the bright side, we could always try to lure Walmart's corporate headquarters here.

Comments
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18