Monday, April 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Scott needs to invest, not cut taxes

Gov. Rick Scott's proposed $500 million tax cut has everything to do with his re-election campaign and nothing to do with what's best for Floridians. After years of deep cuts in spending and services, the key to Florida's future is reinvesting in its people instead of pursuing undefined tax cuts that do little to create jobs or improve the quality of life. • After a difficult period, most families reassess their needs when financial conditions improve. They finally fix the leaky roof, replace the old car or buy a new refrigerator. But Scott sees no value in making improvements when times are better. He wants to reject most of the $845 million extra the state is projecting to have in 2014-15 after paying for program growth and placing $1 billion in reserves. On Tuesday, he embarked on a statewide tour to scout for ideas on which state taxes and fees should be cut to return $500 million of the surplus. What he should be doing is reassessing where that money might be better spent:

Education: Per-pupil spending for public schools has increased in the past two years but is still below 2006-07 levels. Traditional public schools haven't seen a single dollar of state construction or maintenance money in three years. State colleges have so little money that they are reducing adjunct faculty members' hours to avoid providing health insurance. University students are paying exponentially more in tuition, but precipitous drops in state funding mean fewer dollars overall are being spent to teach them. And Florida's voluntary prekindergarten program — one of the state's best investments at just $2,383 per child — hasn't seen an increase in funding in three years and is still spending nearly $300 less per child than in 2010.

Environment: The Florida Forever land conservation program — once the envy of the nation and a wise investment in a rapidly growing state — has been all but mothballed since the recession. It's time to bring it back rather than sell public land to raise money to buy other public land.

Affordable housing: At the moment when it might have been cheapest for the state's housing programs to help the private sector build or buy affordable housing for lower-income families, lawmakers redirected most of the money. Now housing prices are rising again, and the need for affordable housing is growing.

Transportation: Lawmakers repeatedly raided the state's transportation trust funds for other purposes in recent years. The state's backlog for road maintenance and construction is now estimated to be more than $40 billion, and the only new highway lanes the state expects to build would be financed by tolls.

Disabled children: Even as Florida faces a federal lawsuit for placing 200 disabled children in nursing homes when community-based care would be more appropriate, the state has 22,000 children on the waiting list for community-based care.

Floridians who have felt the pain of the past few years should not be fooled. Refusing to invest in education, the environment, transportation and housing will not create jobs or build a brighter future for Florida. It is a path to further stagnation.

Comments

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18