More Tax Man sightings in Tally
Count state Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, as another conservative Republican who says the GOP-dominated Legislature is considering breaking a party commandment: Thou shalt not raise taxes. But Wise, who chairs the education appropriations committee in the Senate, goes a step further – and predicts the Leg will do exactly that during the session that begins in March.
Wise told the Gradebook today that he foresees lawmakers raising the cigarette tax and eliminating some sales tax exemptions.
"I believe some will be undone, but I don't know which ones," he said. He added he would support eliminating some of those exemptions but does not back a general sales tax hike, which is being pushed by the state teachers union.
After two years of budget cuts, Wise and other Republicans are reluctantly talking taxes because another massive revenue shortfall - $3.5 billion, at this point – looms darkly on the horizon.
"The party line still is 'let's not increase taxes,' but we are in a once-in-a-lifetime situation with a very serious economy and critical services have to be met," Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, told the Times/Herald Capital Bureau earlier this week.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter