Local option sales taxes amendment flying under the radar
While the discussion of constitutional amendments involving school vouchers and property taxes on education funding have raged in recent months -– not to mention one that would ban gay marriage –- a proposal that would give counties the authority to levy a local-option sales tax to supplement state funding for their community colleges is receiving less publicity.
Florida community colleges currently are funded entirely by the state in addition to student tuition and fees. If approved, the new legislation would pave the way for additional funding sources to compensate for a strained budget.
Officials in more populous counties like Miami-Dade tend to like the idea. They point out that it only provides the language for a possible tax, giving the voters the opportunity to deny any proposed local-option sales tax. Others worry that the legislation could shift the burden of community college funding to local authorities and create inequities among institutions as a result of the disparate economies of Florida’s urban and rural counties.
Drafted by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, the proposed amendment will appear on the ballot this November. Twin House of Representatives and Senate bills that would have given specific Florida counties the option to leverage the community college tax proposed by the amendment died in committee last year.
Donna Winchester, higher education reporter