Debts hold back grads in state | Aug. 11, Robert Trigaux column
Governor keeps college costs low
What a difference a few years can make. Compared to five years ago, when job prospects were bleak, Florida's students are now graduating into an opportunity economy.
Florida is experiencing an economic resurgence — a jobs recovery that far outpaces growth in other large states and the nation as a whole. More than 896,000 jobs have been added across all industries and job demand is near record levels, with more than 273,000 jobs currently available statewide. This growth is occurring because Florida has kept taxes low, reduced regulations and invested in critical infrastructure.
Student debt, however, can quickly crush the dream of a job for graduates. In a recent column, Robert Trigaux highlighted the problem of staggering student loan debt in a WalletHub study, noting that it delays or impedes important life goals for students.
But higher education is a path to success, and this is exactly why Gov. Rick Scott has made college affordability a top priority. In the past five years, Gov. Scott has held the line on tuition and provided tax cuts for college textbooks, rejected new debt at Florida's public colleges and universities, pushed for $10,000 degrees at state colleges, supported sharply reducing the cost of Florida's Prepaid Plan and urged our schools to focus more on future employability.
In Florida, we are making sure higher education and a fulfilling career are attainable for graduates. Gov. Scott wants students to graduate with the future on their minds, not burdened by past debt when entering the workforce.
With affordable education and expanding job opportunities in the Sunshine State, they are better able to do just that.
Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and Pam Stewart, commissioner of the Florida Department of Education
Sewage flows into bay | Aug. 11
Rainfall no surprise
Isn't this nice. The city is spending more than $50 million to improve the "pier experience" while dumping untreated sewerage into Tampa Bay, Clam Bayou and Boca Ciega Bay because … "St. Petersburg's wastewater system suddenly looks susceptible to major rainfalls." Isn't this the norm for Florida? The city also plans future dumping that could continue for at least another year! How appealing will the new "pier experience" be when the surrounding water is foul smelling from pollution?
Talk about priorities!
Mike Forson, St. Petersburg
Pause building boom
If the city of St. Petersburg is unable to handle rainfall and had to dump millions of gallons of untreated or barely treated sewage into Clam Bayou and the bay, why are they allowing the building of a multimillion dollar condo project downtown and continuing to build all over the city? They need to fix the problem before the bay is so polluted no one wants to live here. I haven't heard of any other city that had to do that, why should St. Petersburg?
Jan Soderlund, Seminole
Wrong-way SUV crashes into car, killing two | Aug. 14
Spikes would stop crashes
In order to stop the killing of innocent drivers and their passengers by drunk and/or doped up drivers, the Florida DOT should place spikes on those ramps where most of the fatalities have occurred.
These spikes have been used by government and private enterprises for years and have proven to be very effective in preventing motorists from driving the wrong way. All it requires is plenty of posted visible warning signs for protection against liability.
Robert Rodriguez, Spring Hill
Eakins talks of outside auditors | Aug. 12
Program too expensive
Being a proud teacher in Hillsborough County for the past 10 years, I can't count how many times I've had discussions with fellow teachers on how the Hillsborough County public schools would never be able to afford to keep up with the Empowering Effective Teachers Grant initiated by the Bill and Melinda Gates fund.
Here we are in our last year of the EET grant, and all you have to do is put one and one together. We can't afford it. This grant was shoved on our plates without any kind of union vote or negotiations with teachers.
We are typically given a 3 percent raise each year. But the EET grant came with a new pay scale for teachers as well. Some teachers could give themselves a raise by jumping on the new scale. I think the district didn't anticipate that so many teachers would jump over. Some, like me, stayed on the old scale.
The depletion of funds is not teacher pay raises. We've always gotten raises without the reserve funds going down $30 million or $40 million a year. It's because of the EET program and the inability to sustain it.
Cut the EET program, and watch funds magically come back!
Peter Bates, Seffner
Missing votes while chasing votes | Aug. 9
Dock pay for absences
I don't get it. We pay our taxes, which pays our congressional representatives to represent us with their time, attention and votes. Yet they are regularly absent from their posts, neglecting their tax paid duties, to follow other pursuits.
I'd like to see a policy of deducting pay based on these absences, at the very least. Inquiring minds want to know, why is this permitted? I get that politicians don't want to resign their positions to follow their dreams. They pursue loftier goals from "a position of strength" this way but do so on our dime.
What kind of chumps are we?
Leslie Phillips, Brooksville