It is encouraging to see the seven contiguous southern counties of the state of Florida meeting in symposiums to better coordinate regional efforts as we plan for the next half century. Unfortunately, they will fall short in every category until all of us in this region realize what is really required to maximize our region’s potential.
These seven southeast counties must secede from the state of Florida and petition the Congress in Washington to accept us as the 51st state: The state of South Florida.
The precedent was set by the 48 contiguous counties in the western part of Virginia when they petitioned Congress for statehood in 1863, and their request was granted even though the state of Virginia resisted.
As our own state, we could keep the hundreds of millions of dollars of sales tax revenues that currently fund the other 60 counties. We could elect a legislature that would fund our schools at the maximum that for the past 40 years Tallahassee has funded at 47th in the nation per student and appears to be content to continue.
As our own state, we could allow Genting to invest $2 billion in the Port of Miami and use the gaming tax revenue to fund the infrastructure personnel (teachers, police officers, and fire men and women), who are presently leaving the state of Florida for similar better paying positions elsewhere. The Disney people and their politicians in the Orlando area and the Bible belt Jacksonville to Pensacola groups will never let us maximize our tourist industry.
As our own state, we could best develop and coordinate our mass transportation systems and highway network. Our university system would be the beneficiary of regional, rather than the state of Florida, doling of funds to maximize our current and future capabilities.
With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the improving commercial climate with Latin American countries, we must prepare our ports along our entire coast to maximize our opportunities for future growth and trade.
Unfortunately, we, in this region, are burdened by the shackles of the 60 counties to our north. Until we unburden ourselves, all the efforts of our regional planners can be minimally effective, at best.
Steven P. Willis, Coral Springs