Scott's plans are what the voters asked for
Voters made their discontent with incumbent elected officials clear during the midterm elections in November, demanding a more conservative vision and a change from the policies of the past. Americans for Prosperity/Florida last week was proud to join more than 70 tea party and grass roots groups from across the state as Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his proposed 2011-12 budget. The proposal promotes fiscal responsibility, economic opportunity and increased accountability in government. From a $500 million cut in property taxes to employee pension contributions that result in an overall savings of about $1 billion a year, Scott is bringing common sense to government. He is making the hard decisions for Florida.
His plan to run government like a business, with increased efficiency and accountability, is a dramatic shift from what the Legislature has seen in recent years. Experts agree that job creation and economic growth will come by cutting corporate and unemployment taxes; reorganizing and consolidating the size and scope of government to return it to its core duties; and making additional tax and fee cuts that will return more dollars to the pockets of taxpayers. This Florida "jobs budget" is bold, devoting significant resources — $800 million over two years — for economic development projects and incentives that will develop private-sector jobs and allow Floridians to get back to work.
We at Americans for Prosperity believe that advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote productivity and prosperity for all Americans. Scott believes that government should live within its means, and we agree. His plan to evaluate state purchases, rework contracts and eliminate wasteful spending can save taxpayers more than $660 million in two years.
This is the budget that the taxpayers voted for in November. The Legislature should take a cue from the governor and take a new, fresh approach to the way they budgeted in the past. The voters expect it, and we pledge to "keep 'em honest" by ensuring that Florida officials who were elected in the fall keep their promises.
Apryl Marie Fogel, Palm Beach Gardens
Scott's proposal delivers on cuts | Feb. 8
Having lived half of my work life in the public sector, going from faculty member to community college provost and then into county government, and the other half in the private sector creating and growing my own elder care company from scratch, I see the state's budget crisis from both sides.
It wasn't long ago that Hillsborough Community College carried 65 budgeted but unfilled positions and cried "poor." Or that Florida Gov. Bob Martinez agreed to a services tax and then changed his mind. And it wasn't that many years ago that constitutional officers in Hillsborough County returned revenue that was never spent in an attempt to look fiscally responsible. All that was politics at work.
Rick Scott isn't the first governor from the private sector who may not have understood how Florida government works, but he is at least the first to campaign and be elected on the principle of cuts rather than spending.
That he will be attacked for his budget in the Legislature is also a matter of politics at work. It will sound like the typical "I care about the people" approach, but in reality, it will be more the traditional "I care about being re-elected" approach. And the public sector produces a lot of votes.
Peter Klingman, Tampa
Wrong approach on jobs
Gov. Rick Scott has stated he wants to eliminate 8,700 state jobs. During the campaign, he stated he plans to create jobs. Please explain how eliminating 8,700 jobs creates jobs.
Has the English language really changed that much? Eliminate used to mean get rid of or remove. Create used to mean bring into existence. Do the two words now mean the same thing?
Privatization does not create jobs. It trades the people who currently hold jobs for an entirely new group of people who will take over their jobs and will need a tremendous amount of training to perform those jobs.
Vivian Gleason, Largo
Taking it to heart | Feb. 10
Fighting the 'silent disease'
Kudos to the Times for this article that sheds light on the important connection between oral health and overall health. For many years, dentists have been educating patients about the need to aggressively treat periodontal (gum) disease because of its link to inflammation and other serious health conditions.
Many people are surprised to learn that periodontal disease is the most common bacterial infection found anywhere in the body. With three out of four adults over the age of 35 affected by some form of this progressive disease, it's an important topic of discussion in the dental office.
The article did a good job of supporting the education dentists provide their periodontal patients regarding their risks for heart disease, stroke and other serious illnesses. Periodontal disease is often called the "silent disease" because it can be symptom-free in its earliest stages and patients are not even aware that they have it.
Dentists can effectively manage and help control the disease with nonsurgical periodontal therapy, which can eliminate the need for painful surgery in most cases. Too often dental benefits for this important therapy are minimal or nonexistent, which creates a barrier to patients accepting appropriate treatment.
Cindy V. Roark, D.M.D., Tampa
Cleaning up our waters | Feb. 8, commentary
Protect vital resource
Gwen Keyes Fleming clearly explains the water issues affecting not only Florida but the nation and world.
She legitimately argues that taking steps now to clean up our waters is not only financially feasible but also an investment in our future. It is all about the water — our most valuable commodity. The most cost-effective and healthful solution is to clean up the waters now.
I was one of the citizens who spoke at an Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored public hearing regarding the development of safeguards. I represent residents in eastern Hillsborough County who are attempting to clean up a waterway on the imperiled waters list. The public hearing gave everyone an opportunity to express their concerns. Whether community activist or business leader, we need to join forces and support the EPA rulings. Cleaning up our waters is the best investment we can make.
Susan Watson, Dover
State rejects health money | Feb. 4
Grandstanding, not leading
I not surprised that our state representatives are grandstanding and rejecting federal money to see whether health insurance companies are spending enough money on their customers.
There is so much bile built into the efforts of our supposed representatives that they will do anything to make sure that a health care law desired by most people in this country is overturned.
It doesn't matter that many Floridians can be a heartbeat away from not having health insurance, or are dropped when they get sick. Our Florida "representatives" are more concerned with recapturing the White House and will do anything to see that this occurs.
Anita Clifford, Lithia
Officials don't care
What Gov. Rick Scott, Kevin McCarty and Pam Bondi are saying is: We don't care about you.
It matters not that you have no insurance; it matters not that those who do have insurance will pay more with higher premiums and higher co-pays to cover the people who get treated at hospitals without being able to pay; it matters not that those who are not covered wait until they are seriously ill before they seek treatment, thereby causing the entire system to spend more money.
Kay Kelly, Clearwater
Make it in America
Shopping for clothes for a grandchild, I was upset to see that about 80 percent of items were from China, a country whose economy is booming while ours remains sluggish. If you agree that something is wrong, do as I do and tell store clerks that you prefer American products.
President Barack Obama spoke to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week and asked it to create jobs. Yet that organization has spent millions lobbying Congress to vote against tax reforms to bring jobs back from Asia.
Bob Anderson, Largo