Why fund bungee jumping at Skyrise Miami while kids free fall in foster care?

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Take a quick inventory of what Floridians want and need and lack and are waiting for. Think briefly through the long list of embarrassingly underfunded programs: Medicaid reimbursement for physicians and nursing homes to care for our most vulnerable; waiver programs for people with disabilities; arts and sciences classrooms; teachers; child protection investigators; space to house violent sex offenders…

Do I need to continue?

But forget all of that. Because here’s where your next $10 million in tax dollars might go: a flippin’ building. It’s a cool-looking building, I’ll give it that. It’s an open-sided, bobby-pin shaped spire dubbed “SkyRise Miami.”

Miami, it turns out, doesn’t have an Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building. And apparently, that’s a problem (at least for the developers who wish to build one).

SkyRise will be the tallest building in Miami. For its 1,000 feet on a tiny piece of land behind Downtown’s Bayside, it will cost $300 to $400 million to build. And if that were $300 to $400 million of the private developer’s dollars, why not?

But legislative budget writers are looking like they might give the project a hefty wad of hard-earned cash, too, and that’s terribly uncool even in a year with a surplus.

SkyRise will house a nightclub, amphitheater, flight simulator, bungee jump, and a 50-story high-speed drop ride that will give riders the experience of a “free fall followed by the jolt of extremely rapid deceleration.”

I’m glad the SkyRise developers gave us that vocabulary, because it is ironically befitting of a project that will take $10 million in state dollars while children free fall in foster care. While parents free fall in the attempt to provide for a disabled child but can’t do both that and work. While doctors free fall out of the Medicaid program because they’re losing money on each child they treat. While schools rapidly decelerate fine arts programs. While sex offenders free fall from custody and children in foster care aren’t checked in on nearly enough.

That’s no thrill. It’s an offensive waste when we could be using extra cash to solve real problems for Floridians.

A developer who can spend $300 to $400 million to build such an interesting, hurricane-proof spectacle don’t need the extra $10 million gimme. And our lawmakers shouldn’t give it.

This appropriation should be the first to experience “extremely rapid deceleration.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.