Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don’t cut Healthy Start funding

Healthy Start is a proven program that supports thousands of at-risk pregnant women and their babies every year. But to lawmakers looking to find savings in the state budget, itís a target. Reducing funding for Healthy Start would do immeasurable harm to a population that needs maximum support. Lawmakers should look elsewhere to save money.

If anything, Healthy Start funding should increase. Last year, the program provided services such as home visits, childbirth education, parenting resources and substance abuse education for 80,000 pregnant women and 56,000 infants. One advocate called it "the glue" holding together the web of social services for expectant mothers. Since the program started in 1991, the state has seen a 35 percent decrease in infant mortality. But Senate negotiators appear determined to cut it, at one point calling for a $19 million cut, nearly a third of the programís budget. They claimed they wanted to eliminate "duplication" with other programs. But Healthy Start is of particular value to women in rural areas where community services are limited and there are unlikely to be redundancies. Cutting Healthy Start funding would be a heartless move that harms mothers, babies, and eventually, whole communities.

There is a connection between childhood poverty and juvenile crime. The Tampa Bay Timesí recent "Hot Wheels" series about the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County is a perfect, sobering example. Police were called to the home of one young car thief when he was less than 7 weeks old because his parents were fighting. His father went to prison for drugs when he was 4 months old. He was a toddler when child abuse investigators noticed scratches on his face and hemorrhaging in his eye. He was arrested for the first time at age 11 and caught crashing a stolen car at 14.

Florida cannot afford to abandon children who are born with so much going against them. Healthy Start is one proven way to improve their odds, by keeping their mothers healthy during pregnancy, teaching them how to become good parents and connecting them with critical services that give these families a fighting chance. Lawmakers should be increasing the investment in this program, not cutting it.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18