Sunday, April 22, 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
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18