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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Biz groups aim to torpedo McKay tax plan



Florida's top business groups got together today to plot ways to prevent the "tax swap" plan from reaching the November ballot, or at least minimize the possibility of a sales tax increase.

"The coalition feels strongly that proposal doesn't need to be put in the Constitution," said Jose Gonzalez, lobbyist for Associated Industries of Florida.

He said the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Federation and other groups are trying to persuade Taxation and Budget Reform Commission members to change their mind before the proposal comes up for a second and final vote next month. The coalition met today at the Florida Institute of CPAs office in Tallahassee.

On Monday, the TBRC voted 21-4 for John McKay's proposal to eliminate the required local effort for schools (about $9.3-billion in 2011) in exchange for a higher sales tax, the elimination of sales tax exemptions, budget cuts and or other revenue sources.

The business coalition is dead set against a higher sales tax and is starting to reach out to commissioners. "We're going to continue to talk to them," Gonzalez said. "We have a couple weeks left."

Acknowledging long odds at getting five commission members to change their vote, Gonzalez said AIF will propose that, at the very least, the RLE be phased out over a number of years. That would allow lawmakers the opportunity to explore ways to find money aside from the sales tax increase or taxing services.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:19pm]


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