Don't subsidize coastal owners
Over the past year, the Sunshine State has been under a cloud of economic uncertainty. While there has been slight improvement in the economy, the unemployment rate is still at an unprecedented high and Florida taxpayers continue struggling to make ends meet.
Florida TaxWatch, a nonprofit, nonpartisan government watchdog and research center, is concerned by Florida's property insurance crisis and the overexposed state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Neither entity has much money. In addition, both offer subsidized coverage, backed by "hurricane taxes" on insurance purchased by all Floridians, including business owners, homeowners, churches, renters and even charitable organizations.
To this day we are all still paying for the storms of 2004 and 2005. How will Florida taxpayers be able to afford the additional "hurricane tax" assessments if a storm makes landfall on our coast this hurricane season? The state's inability to ensure that Florida property insurance prices reflect the real risk of hurricanes currently leaves all of us susceptible to a financial crisis. These current and future hurricane taxes threaten Florida's economic future and employment base.
Originally created as the insurer of last resort, Citizens has ballooned to the largest insurer in the state, writing more than 1.2 million policies, including for multimillion-dollar beachfront homes. Beachside homeowners should be forced to take responsibility for their decisions.
Now is the time to reform Citizens and the Cat Fund and reduce the role of these government agencies and their threat to our economy.
Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO, Florida TaxWatch
Voluntary prisoner reform
As an inmate, I'd like to share my views on Florida's prison system.
The state's program of punishment and rehabilitation has proven ineffective. Rehabilitation means "to restore to a former condition." Why "restore" offenders to their former lifestyle? Reformation is the key.
Many inmates are remorseful for their actions, have sought genuine change and are deemed safe for release. Questionable, however, are the so-called "rehabilitative programs" mandated by Florida's former administration — re-entry, transition, etc. How effective are programs that force inmate participation? Moreover, many of these programs are antiquated.
In contrast, the administration here at Sumter Correctional Institution seems to have the proper intent for inmate reformation by offering voluntary programs. Should tax dollars be utilized on inmates voluntarily seeking reform, or wasted on those with no such interest?
Along with Gov. Rick Scott's worthwhile plan to effectuate a productive government, hopefully he will focus on sensible and effective programs resulting in inmate reformation. Rehabilitation equals reoffending; reformation equals reduced recidivism while saving Florida taxpayers millions of dollars.
Steven Craig Best, Sumter Correctional Institution, Bushnell
Steep cuts for disabled | March 31
Once again I am deeply saddened by the actions and attitude of Gov. Rick Scott. The mentally disabled citizens of Florida deserve the same treatment and rights as anyone else. The governor has chosen to marginalize these citizens.
Does this governor have any compassion or understanding for someone else? I harken back to the days when Gov. Bob Graham worked in various jobs. Perhaps this governor should work with the mentally disabled or challenged and see what these citizens need.
Mark L. Grantham, Gulfport
Gov. Rick Scott
Measure the results
I would like to suggest a new Scott-O-Meter. It would be about Florida jobs and might look like this:
Jobs promised: 700,000
Jobs delivered: 0
Jobs lost: 25,000
This last number is based on the lost rail project and may be conservative as teachers quit and services are eliminated. But if published often it might help start a movement towards recall, something California successfully did a few years ago.
Edward George, Largo
A person has to be a fool to ride a bicycle on a public street. If he cannot find a bike trail or a sidewalk to ride on, he is asking for it. There are more than 1,000 cars for each bike and all of them are bigger, faster and more deadly than a bike.
If the bicyclist wants to go out with a big splash, he can prearrange to have inscribed on his tombstone: "I had the right of way."
Joe S. Everett, Clearwater
Rubio urges raising Social Security age March 31
Make taxes more equitable
Sen. Marco Rubio is correct that something needs to be done with Social Security to ensure its solvency. Raising the retirement age may help, but it is not the only way and not necessarily the best way.
Social Security taxes income up to $110,000. A person earning $110,000 pays the same amount into Social Security as Marco Rubio does, who as a U.S. senator earns $174,000.
The person making $110,000 a year and the rest of us who earn less are paying Social Security tax on 100 percent of our income; Rubio is paying Social Security tax on only 63 percent of his income.
Senator, if you want there to be a Social Security when you retire, kindly do it on your back and on the backs of those who can most afford it, and not on mine.
Len Keller, Seminole
Tampa Republicans still fighting for Moffitt funding | March 25
State lawmakers need our undivided support to keep H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute solvent and able to continue its good work.
As a father of a daughter who succumbed to the terrible disease of brain cancer, I have a personal reason for supporting the center. Admittedly there are other budget priorities, but our legislators need to reflect on the welfare of families before slashing needed dollars.
Paul Mitchell, Thonotosassa