Reaffirming the Largest Rate Hike

The Florida Public Service Commission reaffirmed the largest rate hike in history Monday. The actions opened the door for the telephone giants to ask that the freeze on the higher rates also be lifted.

Florida Attorney Gen. Charlie Crist forced the PSC to take another look at the phone rate hike. The attorney general says if allowed to stand, the hike will not lead to competition because a federal court ruling makes it more costly for new companies to get in the local phone business.

Crist also argued the increases are against the public interest.

"Consumers are a captive market who have no other choice but to forgo spending on food and medicine in order to continue to pay for basic phone service," Crist says.

Legal standards for reconsidering the hike that was approved in December are strict. The phone companies all argued the standard was not met.

With that unanimous vote the PSC refused to reverse the rate hike. The decision opens the door for the phone companies to come back to the PSC and say let us raise local rates right now.

That leaves Charlie Crist vowing to keep challenging the hike in the Florida Supreme Court.

"We will take it to the mat, we will go to the Supreme Court. We look forward to the Supreme Court rendering justice for the people and stopping this outrageous increase from going into effect," Crist says.

It will likely be this fall before the court takes up the case. The telephone rate increase approved by the PSC in December will remain on hold as long as the case is being appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.