A retooled tax swap moves forward
A panel of the Taxation & Budget Reform Commission on Monday approved a modified proposal to eliminate $8-billion a year in property taxes for schools while ordering the Legislature to replace the money through a combination of raising the sales tax, cutting spending, identifying new revenue that's attributable to growth and eliminating sales tax exemptions. If the full commission goes along, it will be on the Nov. 4 ballot for voter approval, representing a 27-percent decline in property taxes statewide but also a potential 1-cent sales tax increase.
The big difference in Commissioner Patricia Levesque's modified proposal is that the Legislature cannot find the replacement money by taxing professional services. That is a key element of a proposal by John McKay, a former Senate president from Bradenton, who has vehemently argued that the tax base must be broadened and that special interests get a "free ride," because most services are excluded from any taxation.
The vote on the modified proposal passed on a 6 to 5 vote as an amendment. Voting yes: Levesque and Barney Barnett, Bruce Kyle, Randy Miller, Brian Yablonski and Susan Story. Voting no were Martha Barnett, Julia Johnson, Jim Scott, Ken Wilkinson and McKay. Then the committee passed the new proposal on an 11-0 vote.