Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Penny tax deserves renewal

A citizen political action committee's pitch for a renewed Penny for Pasco sales tax will tout property tax benefits, economic development, modernized classrooms, enhanced public safety and improved roads. But, here's the short version, "We did what we said we would do.''

Of all the reasons, and there are many, voters should renew the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax in November, the strongest justification is the astute financial stewardship exercised by elected officials and staff in spending the proceeds from the current penny tax voters approved in 2004. The money has been well managed and used to build schools, make roads safer, preserve environmentally sensitive land and buy public safety equipment. Transparency is key. A citizens oversight committee reviews school spending. The Pasco County government web site provides a link to its update on the sales tax. Any deviation from the original plan – like allowing the sheriff to replace motorcycles instead of just patrol cars – receives a public debate and county commission vote.

There has been no embarrassing audits suggesting imprecise spending, exaggerated claims or projects quietly being cancelled as was the case after the first decade of a similar sales tax in Pinellas County. On the contrary, Pasco County government was able to add 20 new projects to its Penny for Pasco transportation list because of the fiscal prudence aided by lower-than-expected cost projections and unanticipated federal dollars.

Voters will receive plenty of political messages over the next five months of this busy, presidential election year. As they consider the referendum to continue the sales tax, the one piece of information that should stick out is the benefit of the current tax. Penny for Pasco helped curb school crowding; brought safety improvements to the deadly U.S. 19; eased traffic congestion in Wesley Chapel; made intersections safer; gave public control to nearly 1,500 acres of green space (with thousands more acres already under negotiation); and bought laptop computers and police vehicles for the Sheriff's Office and portable defibrillators in public buildings. On two occasions, officials have credited the defibrillators with helping to save the lives of stricken residents.

It's a mouthful for a 75-word ballot. Context, provided Wednesday to the Pasco School Board and County Commission by citizens committee co-chair Hutch Brock, is much simpler.

Promises made. Promises kept.

Comments
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...
Updated: 1 hour ago

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: 2 hours ago
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...
Updated: 2 hours ago
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

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18