Let's make a deal: Senate looks to combine class size, sales tax ideas
Here's confirmation of the rumor we've been hearing for weeks. The news emerged late Wednesday that there's a horse trade afoot to join proposals to scale back the class-size amendment and amp up the state sales tax in a single ballot initiative.
It's been no secret that many powerful Florida GOP lawmakers want to change the 2002 class-size reduction amendment to make it less onerous and less expensive to implement.
At the same time, it has been equally clear that many influential Florida Democratic lawmakers and the Florida Education Association want a sales tax increase to pump more money into the state's public schools.
Neither side particularly likes the others' idea. But a group of senators thinks perhaps a compromise that would let each have its way is a better solution than letting neither have its way.
Sens. Steve Wise, chairman of Education Appropriations, and Don Gaetz, chairman of the select committee on Florida's economy, are leading negotiations to combine a class-size scale-back with a permanent sales tax increase for education. If adopted by the Legislature, the issue could come to voters as early as this year.
"We care about public schools in the state, so any option that is reasonable is an option that needs to be considered," Gaetz told the Times.
Can this idea gain traction, though? Not if leading Republicans in the House hold sway.
"I don't envision us including a sales tax increase in our plan," said Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, the House majority leader. "Raising sales taxes and property taxes is not in our plan to get Florida's economy going again."
(Photo from marketpsych.com)