USF budget cuts
Cuts could sap research funding
The proposed budget cuts to the University of South Florida are myopic at best. To put things into perspective, let me offer the following: Over the last 10 years, federal funding to USF researchers has increased by over 200 percent. USF spends over $300 million annually in funded research. Why is that? It's because the best research talent wants to come to a place where the atmosphere is collaborative and where there is institutional support to complement their research.
As an architect specializing in science and technology, I have had the opportunity over the last three years to participate in reviewing an abundance of grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. One of the requirements for funding is the institutional commitment of the university or entity sponsoring the application. This is normally in the form of matching funds or previous project funding for the principal investigator.
If funding for USF dries up, the domino effect is that grant applications will be weak and probably go unfunded. To allow the strangling of a main research engine in Florida through arbitrary budget cuts is contrary to the state's goals of job creation.
USF contributes over $3.7 billion to the regional economy. To have that jeopardized by a senator who represents only 2 percent of the Florida population is unconscionable.
Jeff Talka, Tampa
USF worthy of support
I am the proud parent and mother-in-law to two very successful USF graduates. We take a great deal of pride in the footprint that USF makes in the Tampa Bay area and indeed in the state of Florida. It is a vibrant, progressive school that has done itself and its student body proud.
When the United States is slipping in academic standing in the world economy, how can our Legislature even consider cutting funding to an outstanding school just to placate one legislator? Shame on all of us if this budget cut takes place. We should be supporting our schools and our students, not denigrating them at the whim of one man's ambition.
Mahala Ernst, Brooksville
Spending on elderly squeezes rest of U.S. Feb. 15, commentary
Too much on defense
Robert Samuelson's article on spending and the elderly uses percentage of GNP to give the impression that military spending is down and dropping further. The problem with that is that the ratio is meaningless as a way to express the proper amount of spending. If your cable bill is $100 this year and you double your income next year, should your cable bill go to $200?
Between 2000 and 2009 the defense budget increased 177 percent in real dollars. It consumed 28 percent of the discretionary budget in 2000. In 2010 it consumed 50 percent of the discretionary spending.
Samuelson brings up Social Security and Medicare as squeezing the budget, but both those programs have dedicated streams of revenue and have been in the black for years. The problem has been all those tax cuts and military spending that ballooned the deficit, starting with Ronald Reagan.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
32-year wait for death is over | Feb. 16
Make punishment prompt
That it took 32 years to execute Robert Waterhouse points out maybe the biggest fault in the death penalty process. I can see an automatic appeal, but then give the condemned person one year (from the date of sentencing) for any additional appeals.
To be effective, reinforcement (both positive and negative) needs to be administered somewhat soon after the event. Moreover, it is extremely unfair to the victim's survivors to make them wait so long for closure.
Ernest Lane, Trinity
The Zuckerberg Tax | Feb. 16, commentary
Slippery slope tax plan
Does anyone believe this "mark-to-market" concept would stop at unrealized gains on unsold stock? Or stop at those with $2.1 million or more in income?
Mark-to-market taxation could be expanded to include, but certainly not be limited to, unrealized gains on bonds and stock options; unsold homes and other real estate; traditional IRA investment holdings; gold, silver and even diamond engagement rings. While we are at it, let's not forget frequent flier miles.
The $2.1 million income floor could be systematically reduced to coincide with "revenue" needs, and, of course, not indexed for inflation.
This is not just another "his lips are moving" lawyer joke. It is much, much worse and very dangerous.
Robert Katcha, Palm Harbor
Lead by example? Council lags a bit | Feb. 16
Duty of all citizens
Recycling should not be a question of profits to waste management companies or cost to local governments. It should be everyone's concern as this is a vital service to ensure the preservation of our natural resources.
Our natural resources can't last forever, and recycling is an efficient and vital way to help preserve them. It is the responsibility of all Americans to get serious about recycling as it is the responsibility of local, state and federal governments to promote recycling without taking sides on this issue. And it is the responsibility of waste management companies to provide adequate bins and service. After all, don't they get paid for the recyclable materials plus charging to pick it up?
Let's all chip in and do our part.
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City
An elected official should be in office to represent the people, not to carry out personal agendas. Evidently, City Council members believed the majority of constituents wanted curbside recycling and voted in favor of the optional service.
To suggest that an elected official then serve as an "example" by signing up for that service is ridiculous. They did their jobs in representing the people and giving residents the option for curbside recycling. It is each individual resident's choice to sign up for the service, recycle through another means or not recycle at all.
Carolyn Fries, St. Petersburg