Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Trump infrastructure plan falls short for Florida

The infrastructure plan that President Donald Trump unveiled this week is big on hype and short on cash. The president said his $1 trillion, 10-year plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges and other public works would make America the envy of the world. But this proposal wouldn't even meet the backlog in current needs. The vast majority of new spending would come from private investors, who would recoup their money by charging tolls and fees on the transportation backbone of everyday life. This is a plan for Wall Street, not Main Street, and Congress should reject it.

Trump unveiled his plan in a series of public appearances, offering more flash than details and exposing a contrast between this proposal and his budget. Of the $1 trillion, the government would commit only $200 billion, using tax credits and other tools to encourage an additional $800 billion from the private sector. He set no priorities or explained where, why and how the private companies would invest, offering instead a rosy picture of the American worker and a business climate free of red tape or oversight by the federal government.

In truth, the federal contribution is way too small to attract such a huge commitment by private industry. And if the infrastructure plan is being financed with money from the private markets, the projects will skew toward money-makers, such as tolled interstate express lanes, not on rural roads or outdated water and sewage systems that pockmark the country. This is a blueprint for skimming profits, not rebuilding the country. And the administration is focused on roads and bridges at the expense of investing in more modern infrastructure, such as universal WiFi, which could transform the economic landscape in much the way rural electrification did in the last century.

This is not what Tampa Bay and Florida need from Washington. Without a substantial federal investment, picture nothing but toll roads and tolls on bridges in an area choking on traffic. Forget about a massive expansion of public bus service, or the creation of a regional light rail line. Floridians already get far less than they should in transportation money from Washington in return for their federal tax dollars, and the president's proposal offers no hope of any fairer treatment.

Trump raised more questions about his intentions Friday by using a speech on infrastructure to tout his administration's plan to lift rules and regulations on contractors and to hand more of these projects over to state and local authorities. This is the same White House that proposed in the coming year to halt funding for many urban development and transit projects that states and local governments have used to improve their infrastructure. In its latest assessment, issued this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation's public facilities a D+ and said that Washington and the states needed to spend an additional $206 billion per year to maintain U.S. competitiveness.

Trump's plan is not serious, and Congress needs to ensure that the federal government plays a pivotal role in rebuilding our infrastructure in Florida and the nation. The private sector can be a partner. But the basics that communities depend on — transit, water, sewer and other public works — are public assets and public obligations.

Comments
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