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Don't raise taxes, cut state spending

Five fixes for Florida | March 1, editorial

Don't raise taxes, cut state spending

The St. Petersburg Times editorial lists five fixes to the state's current budget crisis: 1) Increase taxes. 2) Increase taxes. 3) Increase taxes. 4) Increase taxes. And finally, 5) Increase taxes. The Times goes on to say that in an ideal world we should be creating new taxes (income) and eliminating the unfair Save our Homes exemption.

The Times is correct that we are in a time of crisis. But that is the only thing correct in the editorial.

A better first step fix to the crisis is to reduce spending through an immediate 10 percent cut to all state and local governmental salaries and benefits. No exceptions should be permitted. Many employers have already made similar cuts and it is time that government do so also.

Gov. Charlie Crist's budget, which maintains salaries and fully paid health benefits for 26,111 top-level employees, is a slap in the face to those taxpayers who have lost jobs or seen their salaries cut and to those retirees who have seen their investment incomes cut by 50 percent and more.

It is time that the state and other local governmental bodies, including city, county and school districts, acknowledge we are in a crisis. Cut spending and reduce, don't increase the tax burden on taxpaying citizens.

We do not need to keep spending. When a family loses some of its income it generally cuts expenses and lives within its means.

K.R. Mackey, Spring Hill

Five fixes for Florida | March 1, editorial

Proposals seek to stick it to the taxpayer

I want to thank you for your well thought out "fixes for Florida." Each proposal fully fleeces the taxpayer. Thank you very much.

The proposal to tax services really hit home because I own a small business in the service sector. I ate the high gas prices except for the small insurance inspections I perform, but a sales tax will be absorbed by my clients on the bigger inspections.

Again, someone pays for inept governing and legislating while the bloated government just sits back and cries like a baby. You want Floridians who bust their backs to make a living to pay for the four guys watching one guy dig a hole next to a highway, to pay for overpaid middle management school officials to sit in a gleaming building while students sit in trailers and to just sit back and watch a totally useless Legislature stumble over itself while making no progress whatsoever.

We need competent leadership instead of a state that has failed in long-term solutions.

Dave Day, St. Petersburg

Five fixes for Florida | March 1, editorial

Too many taxes

I have subscribed to your paper for several years now on the strength of your superior sports page. Sunday is the only day I have time to actually read the entire paper. I've always known which way the paper leans and I enjoy reading a variety of views, but this editorial last Sunday has probably driven me to finally end my subscription when it runs out.

Taxes, taxes, and more taxes, including a "reasonable" personal income tax, whatever that is. I know Charlie Crist has aligned himself with President Obama on the "stimulus package," but I am confident (and thankful) that he and the Florida Legislature do not share your views.

Ryan Pollock, Tampa

Perspective section | March 1

Reform is needed

This section of the St. Petersburg Times was one of the best pieces of journalism seen in years. The writing was clear and understandable, the topics comprehensively covered, and the gravity of the situations outlined was urgent but not screaming crisis without cause. It should be required reading for public officials, teachers and school students.

Unfortunately, as was noted, the current crop of politicians at city, county and state levels, with a few exceptions, view these situations as unrelated to their actions, or inaction. Their focus is so self-centered they can't focus beyond the next election. They were elected to "govern" but seem more interested in ignoring common sense if it affects their ego or image.

Tax reform has been needed for 20 years, but ideology trumps the needs of schools, medical care, universities and the handicapped. A tax on cigarettes, Internet sales and closing tax loopholes will not generate a citizen revolt. Failure to care for those who can't help themselves will stir passions.

Next election, I will remember and work hard to defeat those who let us all down. Time to use the ballot "broom" to clean house.

Dave Kulow, Riverview

Not a reasonable tax

To those who think the answer to Florida's financial problems is a "reasonable personal income tax" I have a suggestion: Look at New York and California. Both have personal income taxes that started out reasonable and are now 4 percent to 8.14 percent in New York state (up to 12.14 percent in New York City) and 1 percent to more than 10 percent in California.

Where does the idea come from that a personal income tax is a "stable source of revenue"? As unemployment and underemployment have risen in New York and California, personal income tax collections have fallen.

William Schumacher, Apollo Beach

Bottom line: a tough new math | March 1

Tuition needs a boost

A "Better Florida" will have the political courage and common sense to raise public higher education tuition and fees to the national average, paralleling our national ranking in mean per capita and family income.

Florida should not be proud of having the lowest priced tuition and fees, while the cost of education per student is similar to that of most other states. It is just not fair for families of our students (especially the 25 percent who earn $150,000-plus per year) to pay only 10 percent of the actual cost of education and let the public pick up the remaining 90 percent. A fair system would bring tuition to about one-third of the actual cost of education (as in other states) and provide a variety of need- and merit-based scholarship programs for qualifying students.

Merle F. Allshouse, St. Petersburg

Rolling dice is no insurance plan | March 1, editorial

Insurance realities

Now that the chest thumping and grandstanding over the evil, profit-seeking (gasp!) homeowners insurance companies has receded, perhaps now Charlie Crist will face reality (though I doubt it).

It's stated succinctly by the Times when referring to Citizens Property Insurance Corp. that a rate increase is warranted for that highly efficient pseudo-government agency because, "premiums are not actuarially sound." Could that be evidence as to why many of the evil insurance companies are leaving Florida — for the same actuarial reasons facing Citizens? Or were they expected to stay and play in a rigged game where a major storm could spell bankruptcy.

Remember, Citizens has the option to levy assessments on every Florida policyholder when it gets in trouble. Not so the evil profit seekers.

Had Crist the vision to just let the market play out we wouldn't be in such a deep fix. But then he couldn't have played the populist warrior.

Larry Greeley, Trinity

In crisis, a time to act | March 1, editorial

Save Our Homes is working

I am at a loss as to why you would say that the Save Our Homes cap is "terribly unfair." After all, the people who have owned homes through this maelstrom of speculative buying and selling and falsely inflated properties had nothing to do with the crisis wrought upon our economy.

Save Our Homes has done exactly what it was intended to do: Prevent fixed income and stable wage earners from being taxed out of their property because someone decides their house is now worth a lot more than what they paid for it.

The tide of inflated home prices will fall if left to market forces. When the smoke clears the people under Save Our Homes will be here just like they were before the boom and bust.

Charles Platania, Pinellas Park

Don't raise taxes, cut state spending 03/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 7, 2009 3:31am]
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