Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Romano: Anti-tax bills are ticking political bombs that could blow up our future

You may or may not have noticed, but money has gotten a little tight in Tallahassee.

The hurricanes of last summer were a kick in the budget. President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled infrastructure plan could shift a tremendous financial burden to the state level. Gov. Rick Scott’s school safety plan announced last week means finding another $500 million lying around.

And all of that is on top of the normal scrimping and saving for higher education, health care and a prison system that seems to be teetering on the edge of economic calamity.

So, of course, the proper response is more anti-tax legislation.

Look, I hate paying taxes as much as the next guy. And I have no doubt that too much of our tax money is wasted on bureaucracy and non-essential spending at the state and local levels.

Even as unexpected costs take huge chunks out of the state budget, the first response should always be to look for ways to tighten government spending.

So do we need to raise taxes to meet our bills today?

No.

Might we need to raise taxes at some point in the future?

Yes.

And that’s a problem with legislation that has already passed the House and is scheduled to be considered by the Senate this week.

Lawmakers want to make sure that future legislators cannot raise taxes with something as un-American as a majority vote in the House and Senate. They want to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would require a supermajority vote in the Legislature to raise taxes in the future.

On their way out of office, term-limited leaders are essentially trying to stack the deck against the next generation of politicians.

Now if you lean toward the don’t-tread-on-me point of view, this probably sounds like a good idea. Keep the rascals at bay, and that sort of thing. But if you worry that politics could get in the way of the state providing funds for education, public safety, water supplies, environment and roadways, then this proposed change to the state Constitution sounds a little reckless.

Or, if you prefer, it just sounds like grandstanding.

Scott, who is considering a U.S. Senate run later this year, is in favor of it. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is considering a gubernatorial run, is in favor of it. In both cases, it would provide an effective sound bite, even if the ramifications are far more complex.

The version of the amendment passed last month by the House would require a two-thirds vote, which is an extremely high standard to reach, and it would include state fees as well as taxes. The Senate is now discussing a three-fifths vote, and proposes to remove fees from the equation.

Either way, it’s probably worth asking whether this is wise. Or even necessary.

It’s not as if Florida has overburdened taxpayers historically, which probably explains our poor reputation for education. When compared to other states, CNN Money says, Florida is 44th when it comes to the amount of taxes charged to residents. WalletHub says 45th. Forbes says 34th. The point being, no one thinks we’re hammering people with taxes.

So instead of building politicians’ resumes by changing the Constitution, perhaps we should focus more on how to better manage money and fix our budget problems before they get too large.

Comments
Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

Having Cuba in the name of your company can be a financial risk and there is no solution

With the third largest Cuban American population, Cuba’s culture is celebrated throughout the Tampa Bay area and in a diversity of ways.Flags hang in homes, fashion is worn, music performed, food served.But be wary of honoring that heritage by puttin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

Rick Scott’s term limits idea: Hugely popular and highly unrealistic

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott’s first policy idea as a U.S. Senate candidate won’t happen and most of his fellow Republicans don’t support it.But it’s a surefire applause line at political rallies.Scott wants term limits for members of Congress: 12 ye...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18