In an attempt to address Florida’s $3.5 billion budget shortfall, a bill introduced to the state House would allow companies to bid for naming rights to state roads.
Though the state needs to address the economic deficit, this questionable method should not be considered when it still has plenty of other options to explore.
Ironically, despite the budget’s shortcomings, Gov. Rick Scott and other state leaders are continually pushing for lower state taxes that would generate insufficient revenue.
Instead of cutting taxes, the current rates could remain unchanged or even temporarily increased until the state is able to re-adjust and balance its budget. Another idea, which is seemingly unthinkable to many state leaders, would be to establish a state income tax.
There are 41 states that already have a state income tax, and with Florida being one of the most desired places to visit and move to, it’s unlikely establishing such a tax would drive Floridians out of the state. The dozens of other states with the tax haven’t lost all of their residents and don’t necessarily feature Florida’s pleasant weather and natural beauty.
Florida also lacks an estate tax, which is another way to easily increase funds.
Renaming highways would inevitably cause confusion and frustration as motorists who are unaware of thoroughfares’ new names or use outdated GPS systems or maps could easily become lost.
However, the principle of the matter is what should alarm Floridians the most.
There was already public outcry last year when one of Tampa’s most popular concert venues, the Ford Amphitheatre, changed its name to the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. With the proposed bill, the beloved Florida Turnpike comes up as one candidate for a name change, with some mentioning Disney’s name as a likely sponsor of what could be the Walt Disney World Turnpike.
With this precedent, it’s probable that smaller roads and highways’ names could be auctioned off as well. Imagine telling someone that you live on “Discount Mattress Barn Road,” “Tom’s Used Cars and Brake Service Lane” or, if a wealthy, non-income tax paying Floridian wants to just have some fun, “Mike’s the man Court” or “Brenda is a backstabber Boulevard.”
Traditionally, roads have been named after important events, places or figures, such as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Allowing anyone to name a road tramples on this tradition and devalues the honor that’s been granted.
With so many obvious solutions to the state’s budget woes to consider, this piece of legislation is a waste of valuable time and energy that could be spent on proposals that aren’t as outlandish.