Tax talk coming to Tally
This is how bad things have gotten for public schools in Florida: A Republican lawmaker suggested this morning that the idea of raising taxes will not be dead on arrival when the Legislature meets next spring.
"We're in an economic crisis mode … and what I believe we need to do is that at a minimum have a conversation about these potential sources of revenue," incoming House deputy majority leader Anitere Flores (left), R-Miami, said in a response to a question from the Gradebook. "We're at a point where Floridians need to ask themselves, are we willing to take further reductions (to education) without looking at increased revenue?"
Flores was participating in a media conference call -- with House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, and Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith -- that hinged on a new report from ENLACE, which promotes college readiness for minority students. Put together by the Washington Economics Group, the report estimated that every $1-billion invested in higher education in Florida generates $2.2-billion in returns.
"The report is very timely," Smith said. "We're at a relatively fragile place right now with the funding piece."
So fragile that several ideas for raising taxes are floating around, including this one for a three-year sales tax hike and this one for a 10-cent liquor tax. Flores, who heads the House K-12 Committee, said the Legislature also needs to consider raising cigarette taxes. And both she and Gelber said eliminating some sales-tax exemptions needs to be on the table.
"I do think there's $2-billion to $3-billion in low-hanging fruit that doesn't serve any public utility … other than becoming a giveaway to some industry," Gelber (right) said. "I think the tax exemption sunsets would give us some money to repair our education funding."
Ron Matus, state education reporter