Galling abuse of tax breaks | April 23, editorial
Preserve farms' greenbelt protection
The Times' editorial misses the point of why SB 2812 / HB 981 is important to Florida.
The bill (which is now under consideration by the governor), supported by agricultural landowners and organizations across the state, seeks to rectify a North Florida appeal court ruling which held that greenbelt-classified land offered for sale will lose the classification.
The mere act of putting a "for sale" sign on a piece of property should not strip it of its greenbelt classification if the parcel continues to be used for agricultural purposes. What's more, taxing a property at its market value based on some speculative future use simply because it is for sale will make it economically infeasible to keep it in agriculture use.
The Times erroneously calls greenbelt a "loophole" and an "exemption." To the contrary, it is a land-use classification for tax purposes that provides for a lower tax rate, recognizing that agricultural land consumes a fraction of the public services that homeowners do. In fact, government services to farmers amount to about 25 cents of every dollar paid in taxes compared to homeowners, who receive $1.50 in services for every tax dollar paid.
Preservation of the greenbelt classification is critical to the sustainability of Florida's multibillion-dollar agriculture industry — which has remained strong and provided jobs even as tourism and construction have dwindled in this ailing economy. A recent study by the University of Florida's Food and Resources Economics Department pegged the overall economic impact of Florida agriculture at $162.7 billion. The greenbelt classification helps preserve the viability of family farms of all sizes across the state and ensures continuing presence of much-needed open lands and green space.
It should be allowed to become law.
John L. Hoblick, Florida Farm Bureau Federation; and Mike Stuart, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
Crist PSC picks rejected | April 28, story
Lawmakers let their friends pick the public's pockets
The recent refusal by the state Senate to confirm two Public Service Commission appointees who voted against a big utility rate increase reminds us of the ongoing bait-and-switch scam perpetrated by the majority party, namely that Republicans don't raise our taxes.
The Tallahassee GOP may not vote to raise your taxes, but as recent events prove, they will allow their friends and contributors like the utility industry, the insurance companies and big developers to pick your pocket for far more. Sadly, those dollars going from your pocket to Progress Energy or State Farm don't build roads or schools or provide for police or fire protection.
Where is the Florida tea party when we need them? Time has come to throw the bums out and clean House and Senate in Tallahassee.
William Adams, St. Petersburg
It is with interest that I read your article concerning the various bills that were working their way through the Florida Legislature to protect lives by making abortion more difficult. How noble a cause promoted by conservative Republicans.
On the other hand, Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, single-handedly has stepped forward to block the bill banning texting while driving. Evidently, she is not concerned about the continued carnage on the roads in Florida that she is enabling.
Texting drivers are far more likely to cause a serious collision than those who are paying attention to their driving. What about the fetuses in those autos? And what about all the rest of us on our roads?
It is too bad that her votes are slanted in the direction of a very limited agenda. It seems that they are not in accord with rational thought and deliberation for the greater good of all the citizens of Florida.
Larry Klau, New Port Richey
Tax goodies bill carries jobs | April 28, story
Helping the well-off
Only in Florida is the Legislature so out of touch with reality that lawmakers have the nerve to call a huge set of tax breaks for the wealthy a "jobs bill." Believe you me, if you have the money to buy a $300,000 yacht, paying your fair share of sales tax isn't going to be too much of a burden.
By that reasoning, you should give us all a tax break, because everything we all spend causes economic growth and jobs in Florida industries, right? You should stop taxing the hotels, so when I go on vacation to Disney World, it'll create jobs there. You should stop taxing gasoline, since that also creates jobs.
Oh wait, that isn't going to happen, is it?
Dave Nauman, Valrico
Bad record followed by a worse exit | May, 1
Brown-Waite served well
Your editorial attacking Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite after her announcement that she was not going to seek re-election due to declining health was one of the most malicious editorials I have ever read.
I for one am glad to have had someone like Ginny Brown-Waite represent me in Congress. She has stood up against reckless spending, an ill-conceived health care bill, illegal immigration and the pro-socialist agenda of this administration.
She has even stood up against her own party from time to time when they wrong on the issues. She has been there for the veterans and for the retired people. I wish her well and hope that the good people of the 5th Congressional District elect another strong sensible conservative to Congress.
Peter Stathis, Spring Hill
Optimism not shared | April 25, letter
Be smart, not simplistic
The letter writer made a blanket statement that higher taxes and regulation always hurt our economy. We've had a strong economy when marginal tax rates were almost 90 percent and we have had bad recessions when tax rates were much lower. Both taxes and regulations are tools, and like any tool can be used properly to make things better or abused to make things worse. For example, taxes have funded the interstate highway system and the research that led to the Internet, both crucial sources of economic growth in this country. I'm sure everyone has their favorite examples of tax waste too.
The answer isn't the simplistic "high taxes bad, low taxes good" mantra, but rather smart, commonsense taxes and regulations that move our economy forward.
The letter writer also suggests people should read Adam Smith and other economists/philosophers, to which I wholeheartedly agree. However, Smith lived in a very different economic climate not dominated by corporations (which he despised) as we have today. Certainly read his books, but then think about how his ideas apply in today's world. Smith's famous quotation about the butcher, brewer, and baker is not necessarily true when applied to today's world of Butcher Corp., Brewer Inc., and Baker, LLP.
Lee Kasner, Tampa
There's anger out there
Your paper, and the media in general, seems anxious to continuously report on the ignorant mob, the misinformed activists railing against the unseen bogeyman they simply call "government." Now that the tea party fad is beginning to peter out, you should be asking, "Are the voters really angry?"
Yes, the silent majority is angry and frustrated with the way things work in Washington and Tallahassee. People don't like the jobless recovery, the banksters who profit from it, crumbling bridges, corporate-owned elections, trickle-down economics, oil dependency, made-in-China everything, corporate welfare, exploding oil rigs, collapsing mines, falling wages, and the erosion of the middle class.
Just because ordinary people aren't hopping up and down waving signs doesn't mean that change is happening fast enough. It is time for the grown-ups to take change and get the country moving forward.
Scott Cochran, Tampa