Penny tax-class size idea generates buzz
Not necessarily good buzz, but lots of talk around the Capitol nonetheless today about the Senate idea to put a combined constitutional amendment before voters as soon as this fall. Here's what some people are saying:
- Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, said Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, told a meeting of school boards about the plan last week. Blanton said their preference is to get the class-size reduction amendment on the ballot by itself, because they think it would pass.
- Marshall Ogletree, lobbyist for the Florida Education Association, said it's something the teachers union is looking at. He also said he's surprised by the number of key senators who are behind this idea, though he declined to be specific.
Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, is the sponsor of the House proposal for a three-year penny sales tax increase with revenues dedicated to public education. Of the idea to make that tax increase permanent and roll it in with the class-size reductions as a joint proposal before voters, he said: "I’m still trying to figure that one out. No one’s approached me from the Senate side or from House leadership in regards to it as of yet." As to whether he would support such an idea, he said: "I still have to look at the calculations and see exactly what they’re going to do with the penny tax. ... Naturally I think the voters of Florida may frown upon a permanent increase. ... I’d like to take a hard look at it."
Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami and chair of the House preK-12 appropriations committee, echoed Majority Leader Adam Hasner's comments Wednesday about how tax increases are not part of the Republican plan to rescue Florida's economy. "What we’ve seen over the last several election cycles across the state, on statewide ballots, is people reject any tax increase and yet approve any tax reduction."