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    Letters to the Editors

    Tax cuts amid shortages dim Florida's future

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2001

    Florida's future financial situation can be seen clearly by anyone reading the March 8 Times. Unfortunately the picture will not be pretty.

    Front-page headline: State faces $1-billion Medicaid shortfall.

    B section headline: Intangibles tax cut clears hurdle.

    B section headline: Committee backs sales tax breaks for sports venues.

    Obviously the current Florida leadership is rushing to spend the state's revenues by decreeing tax cuts while facing huge Medicaid losses.

    These insights were followed up by further data exhibiting the same unwise budget trends as stated in the March 10 issue of the Times:

    Headline from the City & State Section: Slowing economy may cost state $228-million. The article reveals an acknowledgement by Donna Arduin, Gov. Jeb Bush's budget director, that next year's "lowering" of money needed for Medicaid will add about $85-million to what's available!

    Bottom Line: There will be no future monetary help to improve education and help Florida families.

    The facts speak loud and clear to those who will listen. Our governor and legislators can't hear them over the din of the lobbyists and Wall Streeters!

    Thanks to your astute coverage of these problems now at hand, we can see that Florida's future is all too quickly going from bright to blight.
    Dorothy M. Thrush, St. Petersburg

    It's just not responsible

    Republicans say education is a top priority. Oh, and reforming our elections system is supposed to be right up there, too. But one of the first actions from Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republicans in the Legislature is to push ahead with a plan to give away $220-million in tax breaks for the wealthiest Floridians.

    And they're doing this while facing a shortfall of $1-billion in the state's Medicaid program.

    I didn't see anything from the last tax cut, and something tells me I won't see a dime from this one. I would like our schools to be funded and up-to-date voting machines in use uniformly across the state.

    We need to let our legislators know that we will hold them accountable. A tax break while slashing health care funding just is not responsible.
    -- Joan Morris, St. Petersburg

    Poor fiscal role models

    Re: State faces $1-billion Medicaid shortfall.

    I really think our politicians believe that most of us everyday working stiffs are ignorant of what's going on around us. This front-page story told us about $1-billion Medicaid shortfall. Then inside the B section we read: Intangibles tax cut clears hurdle.

    Thank the Lord, I do not run my household like that. Usually when I have a little money left in one area, there is always another that needs a little boost. And that's where the extra money goes. Not so with our fearless leaders in Tallahassee. Spend, spend, cut, cut (taxes). What a way to run the finances of our government.

    Our legislators and our governor expect us to stay within our budgets while they do just the opposite. And now our national leader is headed in the same direction as our governor. Cut taxes now and worry about the future when it gets here. Who in their right minds can expect the everyday working stiff on the street to be fiscally responsible when we have these leadership and role models to take our cue from?
    -- Sonny Haskins, Clearwater

    Let government serve the public

    Re: State faces $1-billion Medicaid shortfall and House tosses workplace regulations, March 8.

    What makes our state and federal legislators think Americans are so greedy and short-sighted that we're eager to trade our inheritance for a mess of tax-cut pottage?

    Read my lips, listen to my words: I don't want a tax cut! I want a safe workplace for all workers. I want Medicaid for needy families and Social Security and Medicare when I retire. I want clean air and non-contaminated water. I want safe roads and curbs on gun violence. I want adequate teachers' salaries. I want voting machines that work.

    Such benefits cannot be purchased by any of us "working class Americans" with our proposed few hundred dollars' tax cuts. Only state and national government budgets that put our best long-term human priorities before our meanest short-term ones can really secure these for us.
    -- Nancy Corson Carter, St. Petersburg

    Undercutting the opposition

    The Huns are on the move. A number of Florida legislators and our governor seem to be in a big rush to obliterate all institutional opposition, legitimate or not.

    I think they think most of the rest of us are dummies; that we are suckers and can be sold anything; that Florida's university system should be run by political partisans; that pesky, free-thinking university faculty should be deprived of tenure; that public school teachers and administrators are lazy and need discipline; that giving tax dollars to private schools (vouchers) and tax credits for corporate contributions to private schools for the stated purpose of improving public schools is somehow perceived as something short of flimflam; that state employees deserve to be fired at will; that migrant workers don't exist; that corporate interests (including farming and construction) trump individual interests -- always; that the judicial branch should obey the legislative branch, Constitution and Bill of Rights be damned.

    That's all pretty scary stuff. But worse, I've become aware of some drivel that creating a reliable and simple system of voting in Florida, even after the November debacle, may be too costly. Well, our forefathers revolted against England because they had no voice in government (taxation) decisions. We have a social contract with the government we created. Our vote is our voice. If we don't like our political representatives, our vote is our weapon. If denied (by design) our right to vote, how will we turn back the Huns?
    -- Ken Zeeb, Palm Harbor

    Lawmakers doing what we want

    Re: With this GOP bunch, Florida stands to lose, by Mary Jo Melone, March 6.

    Melone writes: "If it were in the power of the state Legislature, we would soon be seeing a mandated return to pegged pants, poodle skirts and leaded gasoline."

    She should be advised that the "mandate" is from us, the voters, and our Legislature is doing just what we, the voters, demand of them. Lucky for us her type of government was defeated in November.

    Her slander of the state's leadership still smells of sour grapes. And as for her unprofessional comments on House Speaker Tom Feeney, who may well have gotten his lessons from Newt Gingrich -- he may have well been elected because of that!

    And her ugly attack on the private life of Senate President John McKay leaves Melone looking both weird and unprofessional.

    As far as the Florida Supreme Court: It was the U.S. Supreme Court that admonished the state justices for their conduct and their obvious partisan attempt to change Florida law so as to favor Al Gore. Call it like it was! The court was wrong and so is Melone.

    The bottom line? The "duh" in Flori-duh may have more to do with people like Melone than anything else.
    -- James W. Coakley, New Port Richey

    The problem with growth management?

    Re: With this GOP bunch, Florida stands to lose, March 6.

    Columnist Mary Jo Melone asks, "Why would anybody reasonable want to throw out the growth management laws?" The answer may have been in an article in Florida Trend magazine before Jeb Bush was elected governor.

    As I recall, first, the St. Joe Paper Co. had divested itself of all paper manufacturing and restructured to the St. Joe Co. It is the largest land holder in Florida and would devote its future business interest to the development of that land. In doing so, it would require substantial concessions from government, or changes in development codes to obtain the most potential for that property.

    Second, St. Joe Co. purchased the Codina development empire, of which Bush was a "partner" shortly before he was elected governor.

    Now we have a commission appointed by Bush to transfer control of all development to "local" jurisdiction.

    You may draw your own conclusions. I hope they agree with mine.
    -- Harold Seckinger, Homosassa Springs

    Air Force shouldn't deflect blame

    Re: F-16 shares blame in collision, March 7.

    It is no surprise to watch a representative of the Air Force (Brig. Gen. Robin Scott) slip into a defensive mode. But it fuels my anger.

    The Cessna pilot shared some responsibility for the collision? Sure. He's flying along at a dangerous 2 miles per minute with no sophisticated surveillance gear. He's at a legal altitude in Tampa International Airport's restricted air space. The F-16 is in the area illegally, traveling 7 miles per minute, constantly changing altitude and trying to get on the right radio frequency!

    My log book shows many hours in Cessna 172s. I have been cleared to fly through defense areas (Eglin Air Force Base several times) and have sat, doing my best to see and be seen -- "Hey, here I am, guys. Watch out for me 'cause I'm dangerous, man!"

    During those approved-and-radar-observed transitions through such areas, I have received transmissions stating, "Jet traffic at your 2 o'clock (or 6 o'clock or whatever); speed and altitude unknown." At times like that, I wished desperately that my head could swivel like an owl's and that I had the eyes of a hawk. Nine times out of 10, I never was able to spot the target. And I felt like a target!

    Spare us, Gen. Scott. If you want to assign a percentage of the blame to the (legal) maneuvers of the Cessna pilot, think in terms of his being a victim, not a dogfighter. How about one-tenth of 1 percent? Just because he happened to be there and was in the way...
    -- Virgil E. Feltner, St. Petersburg

    McVeigh deserves no consideration

    Re: Timothy McVeigh.

    We keep reading about the wishes of McVeigh, regarding televising of his execution or the autopsy of his body.

    Why? Why are his wishes news? He did not ask for the wishes of the people he killed. Why should we give one second of consideration to what he wants, and why do the media bother to report it?
    -- Erik Lindroth, St. Petersburg

    Just give Reagan an Oscar

    Re: Reagan memorial should wait, administration says, March 9.

    Former President Ronald Reagan was a quick study and his quipping one-liners (sometimes from old movies) often gave him an advantage. Under the category of portraying world leaders, Ronald Reagan's performance as a U.S. president is well deserving of an Academy Award.

    The Gipper can wait for his memorial. However, there is no time like the present to award him an Oscar.
    -- JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

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