Wednesday, June 20, 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
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s 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
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18