Q&A – Florida Toll Roads And Puerto Rican Statehood

Today’s question was submitted by Tom - Two things we must stop. First, some Florida senators plan to build miles of toll roads in North Florida. Second, Congressman Soto of Florida's 9th district wants to make Puerto Rico a state. BIG MISTAKE to do so.

Bottom Line: These are two very different issues but I’m happy to weigh in on both. First, on the expansion of toll roads across Florida. Recently, I covered the bill that would result in the largest infrastructure expansion in Florida since the completion of the Turnpike. It would expand the Turnpike to Tampa, create an expressway to the Georgia border and a new highway between Polk and Collier counties. The rub is that they would all be toll roads. While it has some traction in Florida’s state session, Governor Ron DeSantis doesn’t support the expansion of toll roads in Florida. So, I wouldn’t worry about that plan playing out. If it made it to the Governor’s desk he'll probably veto it. 

Now, regarding Puerto Rican statehood. That’s a whole other matter.

Over the past five years, there have been two non-binding referendum votes by Puerto Ricans on statehood that overwhelmingly passed. Given the state of the economy, which never exited the Great Recession, it’s no surprise. The government is essentially bankrupt, the island has shed population for 15+ years, and there’s no clear positive catalyst in sight. Becoming a state wouldn't fix all of those problems but it would provide a catalyst for increased power and influence within the United States. Were Puerto Rico to become a state it would be the 32nd largest state in the country, sandwiched between Utah and Nevada, with a population just over 3.1 million. That would mean that in addition to the two US Senators that every state receives, they would have four seats in the US House of Representatives. Now, about the politics of it. 

Many Republican voters don’t support statehood in part due to the expectation that Puerto Rico becoming a state would potentially produce additional Democrats in Congress. If you’re a betting person that’s probably the most likely outcome. That being said, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis was a supporter of it when he was in Congress. Senator Rick Scott has also been a supporter of Puerto Rican statehood. Was it a case of politicking or principal? We might soon find out. Regardless, it’s unlikely the movement will gain enough traction to become a reality. The territory would need to demonstrate it can stabilize itself first. You will not find broad-based support to add Puerto Rico as a state as a means of bailing out years of poor decision making and corruption by its politicians. 

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