On and off the Amendment 5 bandwagon
In a roundtable discussion with business owners at the mansion Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Crist listened a lot, and for the second straight day promoted Amendment 5 on the November ballot to give business people much-needed relief. Amendment 5 is the so-called tax swap that will eliminate property taxes for education (about 25 percent of a tax bill) while holding schools harmless and requiring the Legislature to come up with billions of dollars a year in replacement money.
One of Crist's mansion guests was Chuck Bonfiglio, president of the Florida Association of Realtors, the largest interest group backing the proposal. "It's kind of an across the board tax relief for everyone," the real estate agent told Crist. "We see it as one of the most far-reaching tax reform initiatives this state has ever seen."
Also on the couch in the mansion were leaders of two other major business groups: the Florida Home Builders Association, which has not taken a stand on Amendment 5, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which strongly opposes it. To reporters afterward, the Chamber's Mark Wilson said: "We all agree we want lower property taxes. Where our concern is is where are we going to make that up? Are we going to cut funding by $11-billion? Are we going to need a personal income tax?"
No way, Crist said in response, reminding reporters a personal income tax is specifically barred by the Florida Constitution.