April 14, 2008
By LINDA YOUNG
Special To The Tampa Tribune
Florida lawmakers are grappling over the $4 billion shortfall in the state budget. Some of the spending cuts are going to be painful, and include funds for life-saving medical care for the poor, millions from our schools and many other important services and programs.
Yet at the same time, the state is pouring large sums of money into an unneeded $331 million new airport for Bay County, largely to enrich the adjacent land values of one politically connected property owner, the St. Joe Company.
So far the state has sunk $10 million into the project, with at least another $67 million earmarked from state coffers. And given the debt it will incur, taxpayer-funded financial bailouts are likely in this airport's future.
It would be bad enough if this airport, which will destroy 2,000 acres of wetlands, were truly needed, but the fact is, it isn't. The current Bay County airport is not only adequate, but is actually underutilized.
For more information on Tides Center project Clean Water Network of Florida, see www.cwn-se.org.