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By DOUG HEINLEN
AARP Florida President
A recent survey conducted by AARP confirms that Floridians 50+ are concerned about their finances, thinking about having to delay retirement and struggling with day-to-day costs of living as big spikes in fuel costs ripple through the economy.
According to media reports, some advisors to Gov. Rick Scott have even discussed raising your electric bills – and those of existing Florida businesses – to raise money to lure new and expanding businesses to Florida.
One new bill (SB 1524) would allow telephone companies to raise Floridians’ rates on basic and other local landline telephone service at will, without having to seek the permission of the state Public Service Commission as is currently the law. The bill, filed by state Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would take effect July 1, 2011.
Older Floridians, especially those of modest means, rely heavily on landline service to get access to essential services.
Results of the AARP survey indicate that four in 10 Floridians age 50+ already are struggling to pay high electric-utility bills, and more than half are extremely or very concerned about the prospect of their bills may be rising again soon. Some 54 percent of those surveyed said they were extremely or very concerned about rising utility bills. Another 24 percent said they were somewhat concerned.
But older Floridians are even more concerned about what might happen next. Some 78 percent said they were concerned that electric rates might rise higher soon. Floridians are saying loud and clear that they can’t afford ill-advised plans that stick consumers and existing Florida businesses with higher utility bills.
These Floridians have been hit hard by the recession, have gone two years without a Social Security cost-of-living increase and now face skyrocketing food and fuel costs.
Our survey vividly underscores something AARP has known all along: This is just no time to raise utility rates on Florida consumers.