Brace yourself. Charlie Crist seems to be proposing something that actually makes sense.
In fact, it's actually (choking ... back ... gag reflex) quite good.
His idea: Put more money into schools — real money.
We're talking about a half-billion dollars — enough so that Florida's ranking when it comes to per-pupil funding would go from dreadful to just plain lackluster.
Hooray for lackluster! It's been a long time coming, baby!
In fact, if we keep this up, we might one day become …dare we dream? … Average!
Bringing school funding up to the national average is something moms and dads have been craving for years.
But until now, public schools have had to get in line behind everything from corporate tax breaks to free health care for legislators.
As a result, Florida's per-pupil spending levels (the true measure of education spending) usually rank near the bottom of the nation.
Finally, though, Crist has proposed a funding boost of $535 million that would translate into another $179 per student, getting us back to where we were in 2007. It's a good start.
The timing may be suspicious — perhaps an attempt by Crist to pander for votes in the U.S. Senate race. But at this point, we'll take what we can get.
To pay for his education infusion, Crist wants finally to ink a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe —something that's way overdue anyway.
For the past couple of years, the blowhards who run Tallahassee have blocked this compact — and the hundreds of millions of dollars it would infuse into our ailing budget and economy — for disingenuous reasons.
Some have tried to leave the impression that they think gambling is immoral.
And we might even believe them — if these guys weren't soaking up this allegedly sin-stained cash for their own campaigns. We're talking major moolah — for example, nearly one in every five dollars the Republican Party of Florida received the last time this newspaper tallied it up in 2007.
We also don't hear many cries about gambling's immorality from legislators when they're using lottery money to make budget ends meet.
Then there are those who try to argue that, by allowing the Seminoles to offer new games, the state would "open the doors" to gambling in this state.
Newsflash to you deluded souls: The doors are already wide open.
Aside from the state-run lottery, we have greyhound tracks, horse racing, poker rooms and two of the bigger casinos in the Southeast United States.
I'd like to see one of these pandering pols have his or her next anti-gambling press conference at the Seminoles' Hard Rock casino in Tampa. The pol could stand in the middle of what's already there — a 90,000 square-foot casino, covered with a sea of 3,000 slot and video machines — and try to keep a straight face while arguing that adding some new table games and machines would really change things.
We have people betting $25 a hand on video versions of cards — and politicians screaming bloody murder about the possibility of betting $10 on real ones.
The gaming is already here. It's a question of whether we want to cut schools and taxpayers in on the action.
Plus, if limiting gambling is truly your top concern, this pact would help do that. It allows new games, such as blackjack, in exchange for limiting gambling's expansion.
Basically, Crist has proposed something that seals a deal that should've been completed years ago — and pumps needed cash into our children's schools.
And any politicians who are thinking of blocking this deal — whether it's to sate your campaign donors or for any other reason — well, you'd better come up with some other way to give our schools half a billion dollars.
Scott Maxwell, who believes that children are our future — and that you should always double-down on an 11, even though it's sometimes scary — can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6141.