Florida’s growth must be addressed

According to a new census report, Florida’s population is increasing at an extraordinary rate. By 2030 Florida is likely to overtake New York as the third most populated, the report states. With the increasing number of citizens come many problems such as water shortage and traffic gridlock. If such problems are not addressed now, they are likely to prove impossible to tackle in the future.

The report, issued by the Census Bureau, estimates 11 million new residents will move to or be born in Florida over the next 25 years. This would increase the state’s population to nearly 20 million by 2010.

Another prediction made in the report suggests the general makeup of the population will change as well. The percentage of individuals aged 65 and older will grow to about 40 percent, increasing from 17.6 percent in 2000. Florida will be one of only 10 states in which the number of retirees outnumbers the number of school children.

Florida’s growth rate of 79.5 percent is nearly three times higher than the rest of the nation, but it has yet to appear on the Legislature’s priority list.

In his State of the State Address in March — the speech that traditionally sets the agenda for the state much like the State of the Union Address sets the agenda for the nation — Gov. Jeb Bush did not mention the fast rate at which the state is growing. It was only later that he made a comment that urban sprawl “needed to be addressed.”

But at the same time, the Florida Legislature passed a law that makes it easier for farmers or other individuals who own large pieces of land to sell them to developers. This will only increase the rate at which Florida is growing.

Growth is not necessarily a bad thing. It hast the potential to jumpstart Florida’s economy. But at the same time it could affect tourism, a business many Floridians rely on. It will also make the dire water shortage many counties face even worse.

It is a problem that will not go away, but will only become increasingly hard to manage the longer it is ignored. While it may seem near impossible to come up with a system to keep the growth manageable, it is important that the state at least try. The consequences are simply too large if the state’s growth remains unaddressed.