Sticky: Bob Graham: Florida — the sad state of our state

Bob Graham argues that the current Legislature is on a course to erase decades of investment and progress in education.

He writes in the St. Petersburg Times:

April 3, 2011

As the Legislature enters its second half, there has emerged a disturbing pattern of ignoring many of Florida’s core values. Over the last half-century these values have given Florida government — whether in Republican or Democratic hands — a stability and predictability that is now threatened.

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Florida has one of America’s most esteemed state park systems. Our state has seen dramatic improvements in air and water quality. The Florida Everglades are now the American Everglades with Congress agreeing to partner with the state to preserve this unique treasure for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and beyond — a public-private partnership for quality development rather than lowest common denominator.

In the next month all of this will be threatened. The Florida Forever Act and its predecessor land-acquisition programs, which have saved almost 9.4 million acres of our most environmentally sensitive lands for the public is, after 44 years, being zeroed out of the budget. The proposed cuts to Everglades restoration are so deep it is doubtful the crucial goal of salvaging this world treasure and protecting the water supply for more than 6 million Floridians will be realized. If Florida walks out on Everglades restoration, Congress won’t be far behind. Comprehensive planning for future land and water use, which has elevated growth to a new standard of quality, is under all-out assault.

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All of the tax cuts, particularly the total repeal of the tax on stocks and bonds, primarily benefited the upper 5 percent of Floridians, thus contributing to the enormous disparity in wealth in the United States: The top 5 percent of Americans claim 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the lowest 80 percent get only 12.8 percent. In more recent years, Florida politicians have regressively shifted the cost of state services from the richest Floridians to those working hardest just to make ends meet. If the Legislature remains committed to adequacy, resilience and fairness as the foundation of our tax system, serious reconsideration should be given to these tax cuts and the harm they have done… SOURCE

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