Saturday, October 20, 2018

Speaker Richard Corcoran draws bright line on Florida school taxing issue

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran made clear Tuesday that his chamber will not go along with a key piece of Gov. Rick Scott's financial plan for the state's public schools during the 2018 legislative session.

In remarks to open the session, Corcoran said there are three things the House "absolutely must do" during the next 59 days. First among those, he said, is to never support higher taxes on any person or business.

"We will not raise them directly. We will not raise them indirectly. We will not sit passively and allow the Required Local Effort to be raised," Corcoran said, as written in his prepared remarks.

That puts him at odds this year, as last, with Scott and the Senate, which have proposed allowing school district property tax rates to remain stable in order to benefit from rising property values.

Scott said the added revenue would help bring public education spending to "historic" levels. If that were to happen, Corcoran made clear it won't come via tax rate manipulations.

"Our laws say that a local government that does not move to the rolled back rate is raising taxes, so it would be the height of hypocrisy for us to do otherwise," he said. "If this is a debate the Senate wants to have, we will welcome it. We will debate the issue around the state because any person in any community, in any city, in any county – their answer – the truth – will be the same. It's a tax increase.

"When a taxpayer is forced to pay more money this year than last year – through no action of their own – it's a tax increase. It's a tax increase today on January 9. It will be a tax increase on March 9. It will be a tax increase on June 29. We have fought this fight. We have taken this moral high ground, and we will not give it up."

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