Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Business Leaders and Republicans onboard with Tax Review

When it became apparent that Florida was facing a serious budget deficit, Democrats began calling for a look at revenue raising ideas, such as boosting cigarette taxes and reviewing Florida’s numerous sales tax exemptions.  They were rebuffed by Charlie Crist in his outline for Special Session, and the House and Senate leadership in their call for Special Session.  Several Democrats tried to raise the issues during the session by introducing a couple of bills during Special Session.  But the bills were outside the subject matter, and these legislators couldn’t get the 3/4 vote necessary for the bills to be heard.  With budget cuts from the Special Session reverbrating throughout the State, Florida’s revenues at a low, and a huge projected budget shortfall facing legislators during the upcoming regular session, Republicans and business leaders have now changed their tune.

This from the St. Pete Times:

Florida’s threadbare state budget, now cut by more than $8-billion since July 2007, has Republican legislators talking about what until now was reviled as heresy: taxes.

On the agenda for the March regular session is a discussion of a cigarette tax increase of between 50 cents and $1, taxing all Internet sales in Florida, eliminating sales tax exemptions and closing tax loopholes.

There is no agreement on whether to impose any of these taxes. But tax-averse legislators — who resisted talk of taxes for nearly 20 years and campaigned on promises of tax cuts — have reached near-agreement on one thing: Two years of budget cuts culminating in last week’s $2.4-billion reduction have hit bone. Worse, they say, is a $3.5-billion shortfall next year that they’ll have to fill to avoid deeper cuts to education and health care.

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