Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Charlie Crist: Two Moneylosing Ideas For the Price of One

In spite of my best blogging efforts (here, here and here), Charlie Crist signed a bill to sell state roads to private companies. These companies will make Floridians pay to drive on roads they already paid for with their tax dollars.

I have pointed out before that Florida has a horrible record with privatization. The state does not make money off of hiring private companies to manage services they could do themselves. The state would have to pay a middleman. That is like buying from a retailer when you can go straight to the wholesale warehouse to purchase the same item. It's stupid. The only reason Republicans like this idea is because it helps businesses that contribute to the party. It makes no economic sense.

That explains why Crist is so politically tone deaf on this issue. Floridians hate toll booths.

NEW TAMPA - On paper, you'd think Helen Green fits the profile of someone who might benefit from a Hillsborough commissioner's idea to turn Bruce B. Downs Boulevard into a toll road.

She's 78. Lives in the New Tampa community of Pebble Creek. Shops at Wal-Mart on Regents Park Drive.

If anything, toll collections on the county line - an idea suggested Wednesday by Commissioner Ken Hagan - would help widen the artery that's a traffic lifeline for Green.

But, well, here's what she thinks:

"It's so stupid, it doesn't make sense. Today, I went to my chiropractor in Pasco. I don't want to have to pay to get there and back. I think it's ridiculous."

Crist gave his reasoning.

"I don't know if it's good or bad at this point," cautioned Crist, who acknowledged he had not floated these concepts by state legislative leaders. "But I think it's important to continue to be innovative."

He didn't figure out if it's "good or bad" before he signed the bill. Amazing.

Crist is thinking about selling the lottery. How exactly is this suppose to make money for the state in the longterm? The lottery grosses over $4 billion-a-year. It raises 1.2 billion for education. The lottery isn't the moneymaker for schools that the state has wanted citizens to believe.

"What I understand is that sometimes there are those in private industry who will give you significant upfront dollars, in the billions, for a lottery or for a road like Alligator Alley," Crist said.

Are these billions more than what the lottery will earn in 10 years? These companies see the lottery as a huge potential moneymaker. I see Crist as a sucker whom would buy the worst junker at a used car lot. These companies must love Florida's new governor. He is an economic illiterate. He actually believed that creating catastrophe fund would lower insurance rates. It did no such thing and could make Florida bankrupt if a series of natural disasters hit the state.

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