New Hampshire vs. Florida - A Few Comparisons

While our reason for our trip to Florida two weeks ago was vacation at Disney, we did manage to spend some time with friends and relatives. (It was probably the best part of our time there!)

One thing I have to say about the Disney folks – they know how to run a park. Even on rides or attractions with a long wait time (meaning 20 minutes or longer), the lines practically never stopped moving. Their ride engineering is that good.

While visiting Deb's relatives and family friends, I had the opportunity to talk with them about living in Florida and making comparisons with New Hampshire. There were also a number of observations made while we were traveling from place to place in central Florida.

One of the first things that struck me as unusual (and expensive) are the large number of toll roads and the costs associated with them. Tolls ranged from 50¢ (usually at on/off-ramps) to $1.50. Toll plazas were spaced about every 8 to 10 miles. We spent far more on tolls than we did on gasoline, by a factor of three-to-one. The only non-toll roads we came across were the Interstates and the US highways (US 1, US 441, etc)

I can see using tolls to pay for new roads, but many of the roads we traveled had their bonds paid off years ago. From what one of Deb's friends said, the tolls were supposed to be removed once the bonds used to build them were retired, but apparently the state decided they were a good source of revenue and kept them.

Two things that were readily apparent as we traveled: the highways were in great shape, and there wasn't much traffic that we saw in our time there, even at rush hour. There are lots of highways criss-crossing Florida and all of those we traveled were in like-new condition. Of course they don't have the problems related to dealing with harsh winter conditions like those in New Hampshire. Even the county roads in Florida were in good shape. But as both the relatives and friends told us, it's because the county is taxing them heavily for them.

Upon returning to New Hampshire we were able to see highways and roads we'd thought were in pretty good shape to be shameful in comparison to those in Florida. New Hampshire's highways used to be some of the best in New England, but since the state legislature started raiding highway funds to pay for things having nothing to do with highways, they have deteriorated considerably. Maybe it's time for our legislature to start abiding by the state constitution, keeping their hands off of funds designated for highway maintenance and construction. (Yeah, like that will happen.)

Another thing that differentiates Florida and New Hampshire: local control.

In Florida control of spending and taxes lies at county and state level. The towns have little say in what will be spent or how much they'll be paying in taxes.

In New Hampshire, the towns control their own spending and hence, their property taxes. (The exception is the county and state portions of the property taxes.) Whether it's decided at town meeting or SB2 sessions ( a modified form of town meeting), the townspeople have ultimate control over what their towns and schools will spend and what their property taxes will be. If they're frugal and keep spending in check, taxes are likely to remain the same (or even go down). If they go on a spending spree and fund every nice-to-have that comes along, then their taxes will go up...and up, and up. They will have no one to blame but themselves.

One thing in common: the schools ( the teachers) keep demanding more and more money, as if money is the only determining factor in whether students get a good education or not.

These are merely a few of things that differentiate between the two great states. Of course New Hampshire doesn't need to deal with 'gators, and Florida doesn't have to worry about frost heaves or blizzards.

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