Today's Letters: Reform of state taxation is long overdue

Letters to the Editor
Published February 29, 2008

Tax swap plan moves up Feb. 26, story   

Finally, it appears the powers that be - i.e., the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission - are seriously considering the elimination of the many sales tax exemptions, which mostly favor the affluent population of our state.

I have been writing letters to legislators and governors for many years on this issue. There is way too much inconsistency in our sales tax structure. Why should seniors and others pay sales tax on "protective underwear" (hardly a luxury) and ready-to-serve grocery chicken, while there is no sales tax on bottled water, chartered boats, aircraft parts and many other items making up the $4-billion sales tax exemption shortfall?

And why is a tax on certain services a "taboo" issue? Of course groceries, doctor and hospital visits and other essentials shouldn't be taxed, but why not tax hairdressers, swimming pool caretakers and especially advertising - as a cost of doing business?

Maybe we would get less junk mail advertising in our mailboxes if they were more selective and it cost them a little bit more to send out.

Glenn A. Paul, Indian Rocks Beach  

More vision, less denial Feb. 24, editorial

Do they have the will?

Thankfully your editorial has hit the nail on the head. Florida's revenue problem is the result of an antiquated tax code that only can be remedied by our elected representatives. Taxing sales of professional services and other exempt products would essentially balance the budget and provide for the needs of all Floridians.

The question is: Does the 2008 Legislature and governor have the political acumen and will power to impose a new sales tax over the objections of a massive lobbying effort? It will be interesting to see the outcome.

Ron Frankel, St. Petersburg

Staph puts inmate in coma Feb. 27, story

Senseless government

Having worked for government for 25 years, I have been a witness to a lack of common sense on many occasions by people making decisions on matters of public safety. But your article on the woman arrested for stealing a $9 sandwich ranks right up there with things I have seen.

Pinellas County taxpayers spent quite a lot of money having Dorothy Palinchik arrested, booked and processed for stealing this sandwich. We then spent additional money guarding and feeding her for several days until she became sick in an overcrowded jail. We are now paying thousands for keeping her alive at the Largo Medical Center. And God forbid if she dies we'll probably have to pay her family to settle a lawsuit for wrongful death while under the county's care. All for stealing a sandwich.

In a county where the jail is known to be overcrowded, why are we continuing to lock up people for minor offenses? The police officer should've been able to issue a criminal citation on the spot to Palinchik. She could've been given a court date then and there, saving the police officer and system time and money. Pinellas County could be recommending various work details for nonviolent offenders who are found guilty of criminal misdemeanors. None of the things that happened to this woman should have happened.

Michael Savino, Largo

Turn to renewable power

Tuesday's power fiasco is a perfect example of why Florida needs a mix of renewable energy and conservation methods in order to solve its energy needs. Whether Florida Power & Light ultimately points the finger to a west Miami substation failure or irregularities on the grid, the fact remains, dependence on nuclear energy makes the entire state vulnerable to even the smallest fluctuations in the grid.

The automatic shutdown of the reactors is a safety measure that separates nuclear reactors from the grid when insufficient power is detected in order to avoid catastrophic nuclear hazards. The sudden loss of power from the turbines at Turkey Point sent a wave of brownouts through the state leaving nearly 2-million Florida residents without power.

If FPL gets its way on its proposal to build two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, we are even more at risk. FPL maintains that this type of incident poses no safety threat, but I am sure motorists, hospital workers and others in Miami-Dade would disagree.

It's time Florida got serious about investing in energy efficiency and conservation to reduce demand while implementing renewable and reliable technologies to meet Florida's energy needs.

Dawn Shirreffs, Tampa

"Monday, it'll be better" Feb. 23, story

Transit solution needed

How extraordinary to read a front-page article on the traffic nightmare developing in the Tampa Bay area and not once is the solution of public transit improvement mentioned.

Is there something in the water down here that blocks common sense?

Constance Capen, Dunedin

Shootings cause more than pain Feb. 27, story

An antipathy to guns?

Nobody denies that the actions of criminals are costly to society. The fact that some researchers have selected "gun violence" as a special category suggests that an ax is being ground.

Why not mention "alcohol violence," "drug violence," "baseball bat violence," or "knife violence"? Or is it that some people just don't like guns and are trying to gain traction by making emotional appeals?

Leonard Martino, Tampa

The pinch of bias

Now that the Hillary Clinton campaign is openly complaining about press bias favoring Barack Obama, perhaps liberals will begin to understand why conservatives have for years accused the press of bias.

Message to Hillary: You are now the victim of a vast left-wing conspiracy.

Robert Arvay, Tampa

We want fewer taxes

I do not understand why our government continues to look for ways of taxing us when we are demanding fewer taxes.

Here we have John McKay, who sits on the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, looking to add tax dollars to government coffers. He would do this by taking away exemptions for services. Most of these services that McKay wants to tax are directed at small businesses. He won't tell you this. People like McKay will tell you that it is directed at the rich, all those people who can afford skyboxes and other such luxuries. In reality, small businesses provide services like pest control, hair salons, accounting, real estate agents, dry cleaning, etc. These new sales taxes will be collected by these small businesses, but you (the taxpayer) will be the one paying them.

What our government needs to do is learn to live within our means. We have to tighten our belts; they should have to do the same.

Ronnie H. Holt, New Port Richey