Reservoir project off to good start
This year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals and ordinary citizens trekked to Tallahassee to show their support for the reservoir in person.
The Legislature passed SB 10 with overwhelming support. After signing the bill into law, Gov. Rick Scott told the South Florida Water Management District to get to work, and the district is doing just that.
The law lays out an ambitious timetable for the Army Corps of Engineers and the water district to conduct preliminary planning for construction of the new reservoir. So far, both agencies have stepped up to the plate and responded with all the urgency the situation deserves.
Nevertheless, this is just the top of the first inning of a nine-inning game. The next step is critical. The water district must identify a cost-effective design and operations plan for the reservoir that will reduce harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee and provide significantly more water to the Everglades during the dry months.
So far, the district has performed commendably. As Florida continues to reap the fallout from this year’s heavy rains, this is no time for them to stop.
Eric Eikenberg, CEO, Everglades Foundation, Palmetto Bay
‘Help’ must be paid for
It should come as no surprise that any cut in federal income taxes will benefit mostly the wealthy. The reality is that the top 20 percent of wage earners pay 83.6 percent of all federal income taxes, while the bottom 60 percent pay only 5.3 percent. It’s simply not possible to give a significant tax cut to a segment of the population that pays such a little share of the federal income tax bill in the first place.
The only way the bottom 60 percent of wage earners get a tax cut is if they see a cut in payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes and/or those hidden taxes called "user fees." These taxes are the real tax bite for these individuals.
For example, while the bottom 60 percent may pay only 5.3 percent of all federal income taxes, they pay 29.7 percent of all payroll taxes. However, these are the taxes that support Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, our schools, first responders and infrastructure — all of which are badly underfunded as it is. Any serious conversation about cutting taxes for the middle class must include the entire tax system.
The reality is that each generation expects government to solve more and more of our problems. That "help" does not come without a cost. At some point we are going to need to have a discussion about how much we are willing to pay for that "help."
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs
Tax plan’s dirty little secret: AMT repeal Nov. 14, commentary
The millionaire ruling class
Thank you for this editorial on the alternative minimum tax. I don’t understand why Democrats aren’t shouting from the rooftops how terrible repealing the AMT would be. Could it be that almost all of Congress would benefit from its repeal? Many members are millionaires, and if they didn’t come in as a millionaire they will be one by the time they leave.
Joe Jones, New Port Richey
Legislature should ban sanctuary cities Nov. 14, commentary
Looking at crime statistics
Most of House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s piece was opinion, and while I don’t share his views, so be it. What caught my attention were the two data sources he cited. The first is a University of California, Riverside paper from 2016 that concluded that between sanctuary and non-sanctuary cities there is "no statistically discernible difference in violent crime rates, rape or property crime." The second was a Fox News report that said that after Phoenix dropped its sanctuary policies in mid 2008 that crime rates fell dramatically, with murder rates falling 27 percent and other crime rates also having a significant decrease. This was attributed to enforcing the law on illegal immigration.
This made no sense. Which is it: no difference in crime rates between sanctuary cities and non-sanctuary cities, or a huge difference as cited for Phoenix?
The Fox News report used Citi-Data statistics, so I used the same source to compare violent crime rates in three non-sanctuary cities (Phoenix, Miami and Cleveland), four sanctuary cities (New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta) and the national average.
From 2008 to 2009, the violent crime rate in Phoenix did indeed fall 17 percent. But it also fell 10 percent between 2007 and 2008, before the sanctuary city ban. In the period 2008 to 2009, all the other cities I looked at also had a decrease in the violent crime rate, ranging from minus 4 percent in Cleveland to minus 18 percent in Atlanta, with a national average at minus 6 percent. Between 2009 and 2016, the violent crime rate in Phoenix increased by 27 percent, worst among the cities I looked at; Miami, Cleveland and Atlanta all had decreases during that period as did the national average.
It looks to me like not only does the Phoenix experience not support the theory that sanctuary cities produce higher crime rates, but that Corcoran is more than willing to dish out false information as a scare tactic. I know — nothing new — but I really get tired of politicians lying to me.
John Meeks, Valrico
Counsel may look at deals by Democrats Nov. 14
Master of distraction
It’s been a year and President Donald Trump is still campaigning. He won, so why is he still after Hillary Clinton? Now he demands Attorney General Jeff Sessions order an investigation into the uranium deal, the Clinton Foundation and whatever else he can use as a distraction from his own crooked dealings.
Mary Sims, Tampa