Thursday, February 22, 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markets, the projects will skew toward money-makers, such as tolled interstate express lanes, not on rural roads or outdated water and sewage systems that pockmark the country.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.

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Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18