Let’s change the jobs approach

By Steve Estes

Now that short-term solutions to Florida’s unemployment rate have fallen far short of the mark in making any real headway against the problem, maybe our state leadership should give up the tried-and-true, but never-worked methods it has been pursuing and actually take along-term approach to bringing quality jobs to the state.

Our Governor has tried the cut-the-taxes approach, attempting to pare to a minimum what corporations would have to pay in taxes to locate here, attempting to all but wipe out commercial property taxes to lure companies here, and making it easier to hire low-wage jobs.

After all, we have no income tax, we operate primarily on sales taxes, so companies that want to bring low-wage jobs don’t have to worry about how much their employees pay in taxes on wages.

And the corporations make out well by hiring low-wage jobs and putting the savings against the bottom line.

But still our unemployment numbers lag well behind the rest of the country.

Maybe our leadership should take a look at the state’s that do well in luring jobs that pay well enough for workers to spend money on something other than food and fuel, a move that would increase our sales tax income.

All of the state’s that have begun to successfully battle back against unemployment have employed the long-term approach to enhancement.

They have all invested in infrastructure.

Giving employees good roads to drive on, plenty of potable water, good waste elimination, strong parks and other recreational options, as well as good schools for their kids and good medical facilities for all their generations have proven to be the winning formula for luring jobs into states that are far outpacing us in recovering from the crushing unemployment of the cut-taxes recessions.

Instead of wasting time outsourcing good-paying jobs for lower-paying jobs that make no one but corporate leaders and stock holders a few more bucks, perhaps our leadership should look into providing first-class schools so that educated people who want the same for their own kids can look at us as a viable option and so that those currently suffering from a constant cut in education budgets have a chance to compete for the better-paying jobs, giving them more purchasing power, giving the state more sales tax revenue, bigger budgets and more chance to invest in better infrastructure.

Instead of playing politics and rejecting federal money to enhance public transit, we should accept it and build a world-class mass transit system that makes it easier for people to get from place to place, expanding their job opportunities, creating more discretionary income, increasing sales taxes, resulting in larger budgets and more chance to invest in better infrastructure.

Put some money into roads and bridges so that companies don’t have to worry that they can’t attract quality employees because they don’t want to sit in two hours of traffic daily to get to work or home.

Enhance the state parks which in turn enhances the quality-of-life experience, which entices folks to want to come here. Clean up near shore waters for the same reason.

In short, do what we can to want people to come here to work. If people want to come here to work, employers can find a willing, trained pool from which to draw employees and they’ll be more apt to locate here.

But allowing existing companies to simply make more profit while the state continues to suffer with high unemployment is an idea whose time never really came, and whose time has definitely passed.

We’ve tried running the state like a business, a business that puts profit above all else. It hasn’t kept pace with what others are doing and we’re losing the best and brightest to other states where infrastructure isn’t so beat down and…quite frankly…downright lousy.

We don’t expect our state leadership to try anything that actually works, so we’re left with but a plea to those who call Florida home.

Vote what we have out on the street and vote in those who look at the future as an opportunity for all of us. It will take a while.

But we have to do it or continue to suffer while others recover.

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