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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Legislature Creating New Sales Tax Breaks

At the same time lawmakers are slashing the state budget, considering laying off dozens of government workers and increasing fees and taxes, they are also pushing a break for the richest Floridians.

A bill moving through the Legislature would cap the sales tax on boats and planes at $25,000. It’s being called the Aviation and Maritime Full Employment Act.

“The bill does exactly what the name suggests: It is designed to create jobs and spur economic growth,” Rep. Tom Grady said before a House panel voted Tuesday to advance the proposal.

But the move comes as lawmakers have agonized over closing existing sales tax exemptions to help plug a $3 billion budget hole — an exercise that has all but been abandoned.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando. “We’re talking about increasing the cost of a driver’s license and other fees, and now we’re going to hand out tax breaks to those who can afford yachts and planes? People would be outraged.”  [St. Pete Times]

Rep. Randolph is right.  People would be outraged.

Read the rest of the story here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , ,

Colleges the new “dumping ground” for politicians

New legislation seeks to end the increasingly common practice of “double-dipping.”

If Floridians have to tighten their belts so should lawmakers who hold second jobs at universities and other state agencies, says state Rep. Scott Randolph.

Randolph, D-Orlando, has filed an amendment to the House budget that would force any lawmaker who got a job after being elected to take a pay cut equal to their legislative salary (about $30,000). It would apply to the 2009-2010 fiscal year only and only if the nonlegislative salary exceeds $70,000.

The target: The dozen or so lawmakers who have landed jobs at state colleges and universities (background here). “It’s like our university system has become a dumping ground for legislators,” Randolph said. “If you’re talking about small government and ‘living within our means,’ you shouldn’t be taking two paychecks from the government.”

How many Republicans (and Democrats who subscribe to the “smaller government” theory) who campaign on a platform of smaller government will embrace the thought of a pay decrease in one of their taxpayer-funded salaries? Perhaps North Florida’s own Mike Weinstein (R) could share his thoughts on the legislation? He does, after all, serve as the full-time Executive Director of the State Attorney’s Office while also serving as a State Legislator.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, , ,

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