Monday, May 5, 2008

May 5: Remember the damage done in Tallahassee

By Sylvia Gurinsky

"I've been over and over this stuff. It doesn't add up. Who does these books? If I ran my office this way, I'd be out of business."

-Murray Blum (Charles Grodin), "Dave"


It's not just a matter of who does the books in Tallahassee; it's who makes the decisions. The answer, of course, is the Florida Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist. The legislature has done its damage for the time being and left Tallahassee, leaving Crist to use his veto pen.

Perhaps Dave Kovic, the presidential stand-in played so well by Kevin Kline in the movie "Dave," could have told his friend Murray that another factor comes into play when a government does the books - politics.

Most people putting together budgets leave their dollars for the most urgent in those budgets. For any logical Florida resident, the most urgent needs are in the classroom, in social services, in law enforcement, in health care. Of course, "logic" and "legislature" don't often go together.

The cuts are painful for school districts, for police and for the truly needy this year. They're less painful for friends and campaign donors of Florida's elected officials who continue to get tax breaks. Want real tax reform? That's where to begin.

But this, of course, is an election year, which means that's not going to happen. The lawmakers who slashed the education budget are betting that teachers, parents, advocates for the needy and police - who all vote, incidentally - won't remember these deeds in November.

Here's a recommendation to all those voters: Remember. Take an aspirin and some bicarbonate now that the legislative session is over - and then contact the governor to use his veto pen wisely. Remember again this fall - at the ballot box. Maybe Murray Blum will run for the legislature.

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