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A modest proposal: How to balance Florida’s state budget

By Staff | Mar 28, 2024

To the editor:

Revenue, as always, is a continuing concern for our state budget-makers. It seems that there is never enough money to take care of all those projects that come to the attention of the legislature. Some of the projects are even worthwhile.

As a concerned citizen, I have some one-time fixes that may help us, at least in the short term. I invite my fellow citizens to add their own suggestions to this list and then forward them to their representatives and senators. Here they are:

1. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer should be instructed to purchase $100 million worth of Florida State Lottery tickets with our tax money. In case he is a little squeamish about doing this, the transaction can be carried on the books as a “Secured Contingent Asset”. (Incidentally, calling it a “secured … asset” will help reassure the customers. And, it will keep the Feds off our backs for a while, as we figure out how to pay the taxes on our winnings, if any).

2. Simultaneous negotiations should begin immediately with both the State of Alabama and the State of Georgia for the sale of the Florida Panhandle. I mean, the Panhandle is already in the Central Time Zone. Besides, the Panhandlers (including the ones who say they live in “Florabama”) have felt for years that they are Florida’s orphan. If you take them at their word, they really shouldn’t mind moving on. Anyway, if all this is done right, we can get a bidding war going between these two states, and maximize the price we receive.

3. Incidentally, along the same line, I had thought about suggesting that we sell Jacksonville to the state of Georgia, but there is no second state contiguous to Jax to get a bidding war going. Presumably, the price wouldn’t be so good. On balance, then, we should hold onto Jax, non?

4. I had also thought about selling Miami Beach to New York City, since it is so often referred to as “the sixth borough.” I will confess, however, to being teary-eyed-and-sentimental about Miami Beach. So I am not putting this option on the table. Besides, as we all know, New York City has money problems of its own and might not make an acceptable offer for Miami Beach.

5. The state of Florida should sell off its “home rule” powers to the individual counties and cities. I mean, we will have willing buyers here, because the counties and cities have been grumbling for years about being dictated to by those so-and-so’s in Tallahassee. Here, at last, would be a chance for them to put their money where their mouth is. (Keep in mind that Florida has been selling bits and pieces of its birthright to the Feds for years, so “selling down” — to the counties and cities — shouldn’t be all that hard to do).

6. If this home-rule proposal seems too far-reaching, maybe we could simply sell off the “naming rights” for the individual counties and cities. Undoubtedly, we could get a bidding war going here, by also offering these naming rights to interested third parties, in addition to the counties and cities. I, for one, would be interested in renaming Lee County as “Gillis County.” (That new name would have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, yes?). For that matter, maybe we could get a bidding war going between supporters of Joe Biden and Donald Trump. (The thought of a “Biden County” here in Florida will send some of my friends into a coma, for sure).

In conclusion, I have every confidence that my fellow citizens will “belly up to the bar” here, and offer even better suggestions. After all, our beloved Florida needs all the help it can get.

As always: Live Free or Die.

Larry Gillis

Cape Coral

PS: It occurs to me that we could sell the city of Naples to the Seminoles. They have a long historical connection with Naples, of course, and could fund their purchase with all that really nice money they get from their casino at Immokalee. With their sense of ritual, they would treat Sen. Rick Scott (a resident of Naples) with a degree of respect that he has not been exposed to for some time. I’m sure he could get used to it. As above, we could get some serious money out of this transaction, and it would help balance the budget.