Amazon may bring 1,000 jobs | June 14
The numbers reveal a lousy deal
I have to ask if anyone has done the math. How is it a good idea to spend $6.6 million of taxpayer money (or any of it, really) so that Tallahassee can then charge us all 6 percent sales tax on everything Amazon sells in the state?
Amazon's net sales were $16 billion in the first quarter of 2013 alone, so if Florida's 6 percent of the U.S. population translates into 6 percent of that sales figure, we're talking $3.8 billion in annual sales in Florida. A 6 percent state sales tax on that yields $230 million in annual tax revenues.
News to Tallahassee: That's not "free money" — it's a tax increase. This deal will cost Floridians $6.6 million up front, then $230 million per year thereafter. For 1,000 jobs? Those jobs better pay $230,000-plus a year each, or this is a lousy deal. Make it 5,000 jobs and at least the economics work.
Robert Freeland, Riverview
Taxpayer giveaway to Amazon June 15, editorial
Jobs are worth the incentive
As someone who has lived through and seen Tampa Bay rise and fall on the tide of real estate speculation, this deal to bring Amazon to Florida seems like a great one for all involved.
Let me apply some arithmetic to illustrate. One thousand jobs times $45,000 per year in average worker salary (not high by national standards, but not bad by Florida's) puts $45 million per year into our regional economy, potentially in economically depressed Seffner. The $6.6 million in taxpayer incentives looks pretty good by comparison.
And while I agree the Legislature needs to modernize the tax system, which is far too dependent on sales tax, economic development has and always will require taxpayer incentives in order for corporations to do business in certain areas. If Florida and Tampa Bay do not offer those incentives, those jobs and that development and growth will go to other cities like they have for years.
I for one am ready for Tampa to improve its reputation on a national level, and if that requires a small part of my tax dollars to do so, then I am all for it. And something tells me that a job seeker with family to support in Seffner is too.
Chris Elmore, Tampa
Scott right to brag, but for wrong reasons June 10, John Romano column
Florida schools doing well
John Romano raises some concerns about Gov. Rick Scott's push to increase the number of jobs in Florida. He claims, for instance, that Scott's efforts to make the state more business-friendly are coming at the expense of Florida's schoolchildren.
I disagree. Granted, Romano notes that "Florida doesn't spend as much money investing in students as a lot of states. That would be 37 states." He's correct for 2010-11. However, spending less per pupil doesn't necessarily mean that Florida is providing its students an inadequate education.
Even though Florida spent an average of "only" $8,887 on each public school student in 2010-11, its schools were ranked sixth-best in the nation by Education Week in the 2013 Quality Counts Report. Moreover, the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual "Report Card on Education" ranked Florida second when comparing state spending to test results.
There's more good news: The rankings of state spending that Romano cited came out before the state's economic recovery — arguably fueled at least in part by Scott's jobs-friendly policies — allowed more than a billion dollars (about $400 per student) to be put back into education in the budget the governor signed this year.
Scott is certainly pro-business, perhaps at the expense of certain other priorities, but Florida's teachers are getting results where they count: in the classroom.
Keith Leslie, Tallahassee
U.S. to send arms to Syrian rebels June 14, commentary
How will we pay?
Congress asks for budget offsets to help pay for domestic natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Is there a similar congressional plan for offset cuts to pay for the guns, bullets, bombs, missiles and "no-fly zones" for Syria?
I assume they have a plan to pay for this military spending. Will those cuts come from domestic spending, entitlement cuts or revenue, and can we count on the Tampa Bay Times to report on that plan?
Ted Radakovic, Tarpon Springs
The value of being there
I was walking with my 5-year-old daughter recently when, out of nowhere, she told me, "Thank you for living at home with us." Before I had a moment to process her statement and respond, she elaborated. "A lot of my friends' dads live in different houses," she said.
Though saddened that a 5-year-old has to consider such things, I was touched that she viewed having mom and dad both at home as something worth being thankful for.
My daughter's comment was a sweet reminder to me of the responsibility that I have to her and to all of my children. Whenever it is remotely possible, we as dads need to put all else aside and be home with our children. We never know which random moments our children will remember for the rest of their lives, and it is important for us to be present for them.
So as we rightfully took the opportunity of this past Father's Day to relax and give ourselves a pat on the back, we should also see it as an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the responsibilities we have to our children.
Darren Cassels, Lutz
Scott speeds executions | June 15
Abolish capital punishment
It saddens me to see that our governor has elected to speed up the rate of executions in Florida. Capital punishment is an archaic, vengeful practice that has been abolished in virtually every other civilized country in the world, as well as 18 American states.
Killing criminals is simply inhumane, especially considering the potential for convicting innocent people — 142 death row prisoners have been exonerated since 1973. What's more, the death penalty has not been proven to reduce crime, as it is most prevalent in the South, which also has the nation's highest murder rate. Add to that the fact that it is more expensive than life in prison and it becomes impossible to make a compelling argument in favor of it.
Stephen Lapp, Tampa