Undoing governor's damage | April 13, editorial
Mental health, abuse services also at risk
The Times has done a good job informing readers about potential cuts to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. However, Floridians should also know about the devastating impact that the Senate's proposed $200 million in budget cuts would inflict on adult community-based Mental Health and Substance Abuse services.
There are more than 180,000 adults served by these providers; more than the 33,000 who you reported were served by the APD. These 180,000 adults are just as vulnerable as the ones highlighted in your editorial. Denying people access to medical care, treatment, medications, therapy, case management, etc., will devastate Florida communities. I know this not only because I work for one of these providers, but in 2002 I engaged these lifesaving services. I also am a caregiver for a disabled adult.
If these cuts come to fruition, trips to the emergency room, experiences with the criminal justice system, incarcerations, suicide rates, homelessness, unemployment, etc. will increase. It will be more expensive than the $200 million the Senate wants to delete from the budget. So the cuts are not fiscally responsible; they are in fact fiscally and morally irresponsible, especially as various advocates have been attempting to educate our legislators and communities regarding the essential services these programs provide.
Mental illnesses are diseases, and so are addictions. According to the Social Security Administration, there are more than 550,000 Floridians receiving SSI or SSDI benefits that qualified for disability benefits based on at least one diagnosed psychiatric disorder.
I and my colleagues across the state help save and change lives on a daily basis. Who is going to assist these 180,000 people if you eliminate these services and our 12,000 jobs?
Joan Andrade, Pinellas Park
Get it straight: I'm no conservative | April 10, Bill Maxwell column
Thanks for the information
I had the best laugh in a long time Sunday morning while reading Bill Maxwell's column about being labeled a conservative.
I'm not sure who could possibly get that impression after reading his opinions in the Times these many years. These "friends" encouraging him to set the record straight must be way to the left liberal end.
Trust me, Bill: I know conservatives, and you are no conservative.
Robert E. Guthrie, Seminole
I remember a column Bill Maxwell wrote some years back in which he boldly bragged that could not remember ever voting for a Republican. I was astounded; was there never a single Republican who deserved his vote? I categorized Maxwell then as a hopelessly biased fanatic. I see no reason now to change that opinion.
He reveals that everything he reads, listens to and supports is smothered by liberal pap.
Robert W. Bryson, Sun City Center
Taxes and the deficit
Back to a better time
I see the tea party wants to take our country back. How far back? How about the tax structure of the Eisenhower era? The upper class — the very wealthy — paid about 90 percent on their upper income. I didn't see any mansions or portfolios or jobs disappearing. I saw middle-class, blue-collar workers making a living wage, and the disparity between rich and poor was much less. I wonder if the tax system had anything to do with that?
John Culkin, St. Petersburg
Support the middle class
I cannot imagine anyone buying the story that we should balance the budget on the backs of the poor, disabled, unemployed, teachers, firefighters, police officers, and generally the middle class, but hands off the wealthy. Everyone must sacrifice until it hurts, but we cannot ask the super-rich to live without another yacht or one less vacation home?
The argument is that they are the "job creators." If that were true, then a whole bunch of jobs would have been created when the tax cuts for the wealthy were first enacted by George W. Bush. That did not happen; in fact, it was one of the most dismal eras of job creation.
Second point: Tax cuts do not create jobs; demand does. No one hires anyone until they need them. If sales are up and you can't do it all by yourself, you hire; if not, you don't. I know; I have been a small business owner.
What creates demand is a larger portion of the population having more disposable income. That population is the middle class. They, not the wealthy, drive the economic engine. That's who the Republican Party wants to cut and make sacrifice. This is not a path to prosperity, but a path to financial devastation.
Yvonne M. Osmond, Dunedin
Spending out of control
If you believe going back to the Clinton tax rates will close the deficit, why not go back even further? Top marginal tax rates at one point were about 90 percent. If the Clinton tax rates would lessen the deficit with a top rate of 39 percent, a 90 percent rate could give us a surplus.
Spending by the feds is out of control. States have to jump through hoops to get the taxes paid by their citizens that have been confiscated by Washington. The politicians in Washington want us to look to them in time of need. Look to your local government.
Tom Frain, Tarpon Springs
Do the right thing
Any business knows that in order to be sustainable and profitable there are only two issues to focus on: income and expenses.
As a business it's easier to manage expenses, because you have power over them. Harder to control is income, because factors that affect income are outside your control, for example the economy and competition.
Both state and federal governments have a distinct advantage over a business — they control both expenses and income. I see some good, some not-so-good plans to control expenses, but nothing to increase income, in fact just the opposite.
Does anyone really believe that if corporate tax rates are held at current levels, or that if the Bush tax cuts ended there would be a mass exodus of businesses and millionaires from the country?
The only reason no one in Washington or indeed at the state level is addressing tax increases is that our elected officials don't want to offend anyone, thus ensuring their own re-election.
Bite the bullet, politicians, and do the right thing for the country.
Derek Roberts, Clearwater