Budget cuts shouldn't batter the vulnerable
Today, Florida is at a moral and ethical crossroads that will determine its future direction.
The Legislature (your elected representatives and senators) is in the process of finalizing the budget that will guide our lives in the immediate future. There are some indications of a very troubling trend. And we, as voting citizens, must do some soul searching in reaching answers to these trends.
If we are so opposed to abortion, then why are we so opposed to adequately funding programs for children now needing care? Why do we have to fight each session for the Medically Needy program? Just why do you think it is called the Medically Needy program? Is it morally and ethically proper to deny the terminally ill access to hospice care in their final days? How, in all good conscience, can we deny parents and grandparents decent palliative care after their decades of life in caring for us?
While there are programs and projects that can be delayed and rainy-day funds that can be accessed, just why is there such a blatant endeavor to inflict so much pain and suffering on the very old, the very poor and the very young? Have we now reached the point in governing that we, as a civilized society, have lost our care and concern, our compassion for human life? Where is the leadership of our civic and religious guardians?
I am reminded of the words of Jim Towey (former secretary of Elder Affairs) as he stated, "The state of Florida has relegated its people to the status of a Third World country." Are we now at this tipping point?
We need our voting citizens to cry out to their elected officials that such irreversible actions are unacceptable! Indeed, there are many of us who will actually be crying (for real) should such actions be allowed.
Austin R. Curry, executive director, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Tampa
Anticipating painful cuts | April 14, Monday Metro
Let lawmakers show us some sacrifice
This article describes budget cutting measures proposed by our legislators in areas such as Medicaid, libraries, courts, child abuse investigations, Alzheimer's research, food stamps, schools and college tuition.
Some things are missing from that list: salaries, travel budgets, perks, retirement benefits and the like for our legislators. If they are really serious about reducing the cost of government they should set a good example by cutting the cost of legislating. Why not do that first and then limit the cuts in any other areas to be proportional with the cuts in the legislative budget.
Who thinks that will ever happen?
Palmer O. Hanson Jr., Largo
Anticipating painful cuts | April 14, Monday Metro
I am just flabbergasted! Everyone I know (except the sports community) is thoroughly disgusted with the political leaders for even mentioning and planning to go ahead with any new sports stadiums, i.e., the Rays' big plans. They pulled one over on the public years ago when the Florida Suncoast Dome/Tropicana Field was built. Now it looks as if they have every intention of doing it again.
How can any intelligent, decent community leader even consider spending money so foolishly, when the elderly (I am one) and the children and the working people (I am one) are struggling to stay in their homes or needing health care, etc.
Stick to the necessities!
Donna Hawkinson, Clearwater
Look for efficiencies
In this tumultuous budget period there is a lot of complaining and finger-pointing at the Florida Legislature and to a certain extent, rightly so. However there is another side of the process that I hear very little about. From St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker to Gov. Charlie Crist to President Bush, it is the administrative side of government that is responsible for ensuring that the taxpayer receives the most bang for his buck.
So here is the $64,000 question(s). What is being done to ensure that government is operating at the most efficient level possible? Are departments being examined to see if their processes are efficient and cost effective? Are the ratios of management to worker correct?
There are a lot more of these types of questions that could be asked to determine efficient government including reducing the staff of legislators. I can almost guarantee (having been a manager and having had to go through the process) that things can be improved at significant cost savings to the taxpayer. This would make an interesting and informative collection of articles for any newspaper.
Michael Logan, St. Petersburg
No more Jim Smith episodes, please
April 12, editorial
Fasano took action
As the Senate sponsor of SB 512, which was filed to prevent future "Jim Smith episodes," I have strongly advocated for passage of this legislation. I filed the bill after working with State Attorney Bernie McCabe to help enact the recommendations made by the grand jury he empaneled. The grand jury looked at the Pinellas County commission's purchase of land, at four times its value, and owned by Property Appraiser Jim Smith.
The editorialist's comment about me shrugging my shoulders at the issue, as well as stating that I and the other senators in the Pinellas delegation should not come home without responding to the Smith episode, demonstrates a lack of understanding about the legislative process. I am the only senator who did respond to the issue when it became public. Unfortunately, the bill was referred to a committee which is chaired by a senator who has no obvious interest in hearing the bill. Committee chairs have the sole authority to decide which bills are placed on his or her committee's agenda. Despite written and verbal requests to have this bill placed on an agenda for hearing, the chairman has chosen not to do so.
If the bill does not pass this year, I will file it again next year when, hopefully, a chairman more in tune to the outrageous conflict of interest the "Jim Smith episode" created will place it on the committee's agenda.
Mike Fasano, state senator, District 11, New Port Richey
No jackpot for schools | April 11, story
More winners needed
I bet that lottery sales would jump up if more money was offered for getting four or five numbers correct. Who wants to spend money on a ticket with a 1 in a billion chance of winning anything?!
B.J. Mitchell, St. Petersburg