Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Priorities for Florida's next governor

Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist spent millions attacking each other before cruising to primary election victories Tuesday night against noncompetitive opponents. With the 10-week general election campaign starting today, voters deserve a better discussion about the serious challenges facing Florida. Floridians are familiar with the incumbent governor and the former governor. The question is which man has the best vision for guiding this state in a positive direction over the next four years.

Here are five issues voters and the candidates should focus on leading up to the Nov. 4 election:

Education. Per student spending is higher than when Scott took office but still less than the record in 2007-08 when Crist was governor. Construction money has been steered away from traditional public schools toward charter schools, and vouchers for private school tuition have been expanded at the expense of public education. Parents and teachers are still uneasy about the new Florida Standards, the state's version of Common Core, and about how students will be tested. Both Scott and Crist pledge to increase education spending, and Scott has called for still another review of the new standards.

Universities also need more public investment, and student debt has increased. Both candidates claim to support higher education and are eager to cut student debt and increase the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Who will stick up for the value of a liberal arts education and an engaged citizenry?

Energy. Florida has no viable energy policy, no commitment to encouraging renewable energy and no plan for meeting upcoming federal requirements to reduce carbon emissions. Who will create a policy that encourages energy efficiency, emphasizes renewable energy and reduces the state's carbon footprint?

Environment. Both candidates support restoration of the Everglades, although their approaches have differed. The state's commitment to buying land for preservation has diminished, leading to a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Growth management has been decimated, and water management district budgets have been slashed. Who will best manage growth as the economy rebounds and pursue a sound state water policy?

Health care. Both candidates claim to support accepting billions in federal Medicaid expansion dollars that could help cover more than 800,000 uninsured Floridians. Who will persuade the Legislature to take the money?

Consumers. Crist encouraged the expansion of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to make property insurance more available and affordable after the busy hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. Scott pushed to reduce the size of Citizens and steer homeowners into small private insurers that were often inexperienced. The law that allowed Duke Energy to bill customers more than $3 billion for nuclear plants that are broken or will never be built was passed before Crist became governor and was slightly adjusted but not repealed under Scott. The Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, routinely rubber-stamps what the power companies want.

Which candidate for governor will stand up for consumers rather than the powerful property insurers and electric utilities?

 
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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18