GOP's 'smart cap' is anything but | March 16, editorial
Cap adds stability and accountability
I have to strongly disagree with the Times editorial board on the proposed constitutional amendment called "smart cap." Floridians demand greater accountability in the way government spends taxpayers' money. What greater accountability could Floridians put in place than to say government cannot grow faster than their ability to pay for it? Stemming unpredictability in government spending will offer the stability that job creators look for when deciding to expand their businesses. With over 1 million Floridians out of work, our state needs new jobs now.
To the opponents who ask why now, I answer: If not now, when? I've worked to pass this proposed amendment for 10 years, and I'm proud the Florida Senate has approved the "smart cap."
If approved by voters, "smart cap" would limit growth in state government spending to inflation plus population growth. Any revenue collected above the cap would be set aside in a budget stabilization fund, unless voters give permission for it to be spent. If the government wants to grow its spending faster than families can afford, the voters — not politicians — have the power to give their permission.
It's important to note that the cap would apply only to state government. Local governments are free to pass the same cap but will not be mandated to do so.
Rather than overspending in periods of growth, an effective limit on government would control wasteful spending and instead create a natural allowance for periods of slow growth and budget contraction like we are seeing now.
The "smart cap" amendment ensures that elected officials never forget and are always accountable by giving Florida voters the ultimate veto power as well as the predictability they need to make the right decisions for their families and businesses.
Mike Haridopolos, Florida Senate president
Foreverglades | March 13
Voice for the future
The Perspective section's cover, "Foreverglades" by Carlton Ward Jr., was an excellent example of why I subscribe to the Times.
I have had the privilege of hearing Ward speak and have purchased his excellent book, Florida Cowboys. Not only does he have firsthand information because he is an eighth-generation Floridian, but he has the science and statistics to back him up.
Floridians have an opportunity to save Florida and its resources — including valuable watersheds and wildlife — if they respond to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services regarding the importance of the Everglades Headwaters Proposal. Instead of being reactive, it is important that present-day Floridians preserve what makes Florida unique and save our most valuable resources.
Thank you to Ward and the Times for being a voice for the future.
Susan Watson, Dover
Advances in organ donation save lives March 7, editorial
Making a difference
The transplant community, which includes LifeLink Foundation Inc., is passionate about alleviating the shortage of available organs for transplantation. Paired kidney exchanges are saving scores of lives, and your editorial provided an excellent discussion of those lifesaving gifts.
Given the fact that more than 4,000 Floridians are listed for an organ transplant and a large majority is in need of kidneys, we believe this editorial will contribute to saving more lives. As the transplant waiting list swells past 10,000 people, we should remind ourselves and others about the gifts of life one person can provide. We can make a difference and it has never been more important to do so.
Dennis F. Heinrichs, president, LifeLink Foundation, Tampa
Teacher pay, tenure
Anyone who applies for a teaching position in Florida now should be immediately disqualified as lacking in reason and common sense. Why would an individual who has pursued a professional education and aspires to be successful in his or her profession seek a position without job security, salary increases or reliable benefits?
Those who teach the children and youths of Florida receive little recognition for the job they do in often difficult circumstances, and each spring must watch while the Legislature comes up with new legislation to decrease their monetary rewards and diminish their retirement security. Surely there must be better opportunities out there for these deserving men and women.
Judy Moore, Lutz
Political performance pay
Since we are entering a new era of performance-based pay and job security, let's not limit our focus to teachers. Why doesn't one of our political leaders introduce a bill that ties politicians' pay and job security to local issues of concern, like unemployment?
If a county's unemployment is higher than other counties, then the political leaders' salaries and benefits should be decreased. The same would be true for city leaders and of course the governor.
One might argue that the state, county and city leaders don't control unemployment rates, but teachers don't control the social circumstances of their students — such as whether they have been abused, neglected or are homeless, come from single-parent homes, and so on.
Robert A. Evans, Palm Harbor
Jobless are in crosshairs | March 11
Disregard for unemployed
This article says, "To pay for a tax cut for businesses, a House bill would cut unemployment benefits. Scott supports the plan."
This is a cynical, contemptuous disregard for the needs of the unemployed, the poor and the disadvantaged. Florida was always a tough place for the poor. Now Gov. Rick Scott and his Republican allies have made life unbearable. After only two months in office, the governor has unilaterally changed the face of the state. It now wears the bloodless mask of contempt — contempt for the unemployed, the released felon, the teacher, the firefighter and the union member.
He has unilaterally steamrolled over Florida, remaking the state to his liking, without asking for advice, hearings or minority input.
Margaret Foth, New Port Richey
County to lose its only prison | March 16
With the announcement that the Hillsborough Correctional Institution will close, there is a huge outcry for officials to reverse this decision.
As a community volunteer, I am one of more than 300 volunteers who provide programs that enable the women to re-enter society with life-changing skills. These programs include: employability, life skills, credit rebuilding, financial responsibility, anger management, and drug and alcohol counseling. It is wonderful being a part of something that turns bad choices and negativity into positive productivity.
Minnette Webster, Valrico