Government redundancies need cutting
Why can't the president and Congress reduce expenditures?
There has been little said about the recent government report stating that there are hundreds of billions of dollars in agency duplications and redundancies. And there doesn't seem to be any action on the issue.
During the Carter administration, I served in Washington on a committee for the National Association of Manufacturers. The committee was formed to examine a small portion of agency redundancy in a narrow area of the government. We examined the administration of Social Security, Black Lung Benefits Act and the Railroad Retirement Act, and arrived at the conclusion that up to 10,000 government positions could be eliminated. This could be accomplished without harming or affecting the operation of the acts simply by combining some of their administrative functions.
We met with members of the Senate and House to present our findings. The result was that nothing was accomplished. I met with the senator from my home state and he informed me that nothing would result from our report. The simple explanation was that senators and representatives in that administration would never vote to eliminate that many government positions. They would be afraid of the backlash from the Civil Service voters.
Nothing seems to have changed. We know that there are billions of dollars being spent to fund agencies that duplicate the work of other agencies, and yet we go on as usual. The taxpayer is just expected to continue to shell out to protect the status quo. Why do we keep supporting and electing people who will not do their job? Why don't we insist that this governmental waste be eliminated?
Leslie Brunskill, Sun City Center
Competing for Florida jobs
Many business and civic leaders are disappointed that Florida rejected money for the high-speed rail project — if only because it would have brought 24,000 good-paying jobs to the state.
In turning down $2.4 billion, Gov. Rick Scott cited cost. He said Florida taxpayers would be forced to pay any overruns from the project. It's true: High-speed rail is not cheap. But most big projects worth investing in are not cheap.
What I and others told the governor was that Floridians wouldn't be on the hook for any cost overruns or operating expenses associated with the train; private companies who support the high-speed rail line vowed to fund the state's small share of the project.
I continue to believe it's an opportunity to remake Florida's transportation system, now comprised of a network of interstate highways that get clogged at rush hour and which will only get worse over the next few years. We can only add so many lanes and cars to our roadways. And it looks like the sky's the limit on gasoline prices, thanks in part to greedy speculators.
Meantime, high-speed rail has helped other countries be more competitive in this global economy. I believe it would have been a major economic driver for Florida.
Let's just hope a consortium of Florida cities along the proposed route is still able to successfully compete for some of the money — and jobs. The deadline is April 4.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
There is plenty to be concerned about in Florida today:
Gov. Rick Scott presented a budget and told the Legislature, "Just pass it."
The Legislature approved a high-speed rail system, but Scott killed it even though reputable transportation consultants advised otherwise. The governor promised more jobs, and the rail system would have created thousands of them. Where are these jobs now?
Florida has a problem with the illegal use of prescription drugs. A monitoring program was approved by the Legislature in 2009. Scott has killed it despite being offered $1 million to help pay for it.
And don't forget SB 736 and HB 7019, which affect our educators. Instead of encouraging teachers to stay by focusing on positive aspects, these bills are demoralizing and will have a negative effect on our dedicated educators.
The Constitution says "we the people," but apparently in Tallahassee it is "me, the governor."
Marilyn Warner, Clearwater
As a human resource professional, I think the idea of one-year contracts for teachers is one of the worst I've ever heard. Why would a teacher want come to Florida with a chance of being fired based on a questionable evaluation system after one year? Improving the performance of students doesn't happen overnight. Reforming tenure may be necessary, and perhaps even three- to five-year contracts are appropriate.
Florida lawmakers should think about what is best for the children and not their political careers. Here is an idea: How about one-year contracts for the Legislature and governor?
Ross P. Alander, Tampa
Political employment plan
An interesting spending trend seems to go unchecked in the Florida university system.
A Northwest Florida State College president conspires with a leading politician to scam state money and pay the politician with staff funds. The present Senate president gets $150,000 from Broward Community College for a useless manuscript. And St. Petersburg's former mayor gets a position created for him at USF as a consolation prize for not getting to head St. Petersburg College.
Why are the state's school administrators given such lax spending or budgeting freedom? Money is spent on these politicians is to curry favor when only academic standards or facility needs should account for increased funding to these schools.
And why is there no accountability? We need to know that any politician is earning the salary given by a state school. Florida school money should not be part of a politician's campaign or unemployment program.
B. Groves, St. Petersburg
Bill targets 'sharia' in Fla. | March 10
I am so glad our brave state legislators have had the courage to introduce a bill banning sharia law in our beloved Florida.
However, while I applaud this good news, I worry that the very important issue of unicorn leashing has been left undecided. While it may seem unlikely to bleeding-heart liberals that there is any chance unicorns will ever show up, I feel that the sharia bill is the perfect place to deal with the issue of whether or not they should be leashed.
And to those who say that would be a ridiculous, demagogic bill tackling an absolutely nonexistent issue, I say: You can never be too careful.
Daniel Vergara, Palm Harbor