I'm with you, the htmlText produced is pretty terrible.
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Yes, the Flex 3 text components rely on how the Flash Player implements the htmlText property in TextField, and both the level of HTML support and the generated HTML get a fair amount of criticism. But there are no plans to improve TextField. Instead a new Flash Text Engine (FTE) has been added to Flash Player 10 which is the future for text in Flash. On top of it we've built an ActionScript library called the Text Layout Framework (TLF) which supports a markup language with <div>, <p>, <span>, etc. New Flex 4 components are in development which use FTE and TLF to display text.
Although Flex 4 will not include a new FTE/TLF-enabled version of RichTextEditor, it will include a new version of TextArea (spark.components.TextArea). You can roll your own RichTextEditor by adding controls around it like a Bold button, Font combobox, etc. If you try it out in the beta, let us know what you think of the markup that it exports.