Another fine idea ...
"A ground-breaking $9.6 billion property tax swap headed for the November ballot is the perfect solution for an aging government system that will always trail the demographic trend."
Or it's a constitutional crisis in the making that will paralyze Tallahassee and leave the state's most vulnerable strewn in its wake. "Proposed property-tax trade: Deliverance or downfall?".
There is no middle ground for the powerful forces clashing over a radical plan that, if approved by voters, in November would slash the average property tax bill by 25 percent.
"Sweeping tax revisions proposed by a state commission could create economic problems or stimulate development, according to conflicting studies requested by the commission." "Forecasts clash on impact of Florida tax swap".
The Miami Herald editors: "Before jumping on this bandwagon, Florida voters would have to make sure it is not headed over the cliff." "Amendment would hurt more than help".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It would have been simple to ask voters whether they want to expand the state sales tax to eliminate special-interest exemptions and to include a tax on high-end services, such as fees to accountants and lawyers. But in Florida, the choice to modernize and fortify an outdated, shaky tax system can't go to voters unless it's tied to a tax cut. The result would be an even weaker tax system. ... "
Mr. McKay had to settle for a proposed constitutional amendment that first would eliminate 25 percent of the average property-tax bill - raised for public schools through what the state calls the Required Local Effort. The Legislature sets that amount for each county; statewide, it adds up to $8''billion. To replace the money, the commission's proposal suggests several options, including Mr. McKay's idea to close sales-tax loopholes, but requires only that school spending not drop below its current level."A guaranteed tax cut, no guaranteed progress". More on McKay. "The man behind the proposed property tax cut amendment".
So when voters decide on the amendment in November, they probably will do so without knowing how the Legislature would pay for schools. For some voters, the prospect of paying less in property taxes might be enough. Others may decide that it doesn't make sense for them to trust the Republican-led Legislature to pay for education.
Mary Ann Lindley: "Another amendment is coming your way from the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which has completely abandoned any interest in reform of our lopsided, unfair and ineffective tax system." She explains:
This amendment gives most of your money and nearly all of the control over how it's spent to the legislators, as if they necessarily would have the wisdom to spend more wisely than local commissioners. Having closely watched the legislators for 30 years, I'd say they won't, don't and really can't."Come visit the state of reduced expectations".
Can't because the majority are hog-tied to their party's ideologies and scared of leadership revenge.
"Same ideological gridlock"
"New property-tax plan. Same ideological gridlock. The wrapping wasn't off the amendment now headed to voters to cut 25 percent of their tax bills before the House and Senate were arguing last week about how to make it work." "Tax-talk flashback".
"An Alabama law professor and tax expert, Susan Pace Hamill ... places Florida among 'the sinful six' for how it requires the poor to pay a larger share of their income while getting little in return."
The biggest culprit, Hamill said, is the state's reliance on the 6 percent sales tax to finance government programs. Sales taxes take a larger share of a poor person's income than they do of wealthier Floridians', most economists conclude.It ain't exactly a groundswell of revelation from Florida's "evangelical" community, which historically has done the bidding of their RPOF-country club masters. Nevertheless,
In Florida, sales tax provides about 75 percent of Florida's general revenue -- the real fuel for state government and programs.
"You really need a progressive tax system in Florida," said Hamill, who also has a divinity-school degree. "You're far from it right now."
Hamill's 2007 book, As Certain As Death, lists Florida among a half-dozen states whose tax codes seriously violate Judeo-Christian ethics, a theme gaining strength among some conservatives.
Some social conservatives -- who hold fast to the GOP for supporting anti-abortion legislation, prayer in schools, and private-school vouchers in recent years -- are growing increasingly alarmed by the state's tough tax-and-spend policies and their effect on working-class Floridians and the poor."Florida's taxes unfair to poor, some social conservatives say"
"We're a voice that has not been there before," said the Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of the evangelical Northland, A Church Distributed, in Longwood. "But I think there are many conservatives wondering if we are headed in the right direction with how we tax and where we spend our money in this state."
Hunter is of course no ordinary evangelical. Indeed, the GOPer wingnuts (e.g., this genius) describe him this way:
so-called "conservative evangelical" Rev. Joel Hunter, [is] a man [so] eager ... to help the Democrats that he was selected by the people at the left-wing magazine Sojourners to ask Hillary Clinton a question at the CNN/Sojourners Democrat debate ... He asked Hillary Clinton a seemingly pro-life question that enabled her to proclaim that she's always been for abortion being very rare. Rev. Hunter’s also written a book titled Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why The Tactics of the Religious Right Won't Work with Most Conservative Christians."CBS Uses Democrat [sic] Helpers To Explain How Democrats Now 'Get Religion'". More on Parsons here: "The Rev. Joel Hunter is part of a new generation of evangelical leaders". Background: "Evangelical Voters May Be Up for Grabs in '08".
On the table
The Legislature is in session through May 2. The Tallahassee Democrat teports on the "key issues in the third week of session and what's ahead:" "2008 Legislature roundup".
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editors: up first on the Tally agenda this week, budget cuts:
House and Senate budget leaders will continue to look for ways this week to make up for an estimated $4 billion shortfall. Senate leaders have been ordered to make cuts of 10 percent from state agencies' 2008-09 budgets. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis last week said that would mean laying off nearly a quarter of the judicial system's 4,200 employees. Other committees are looking at cuts in higher education, health and human services and transportation.The class size Déjà vu thing is back on the table this week
At last week's meeting, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission twice turned down a proposal to make it easier for public schools to comply with the class-size amendment, approved by voters in 2002. The proposal isn't dead, though, and will come back before the panel during its Wednesday meeting, beginning at 10 a.m. in Tallahassee. The commission, has the power to put a proposed amendment on the ballot asking voters to rethink class-size restrictions."Action Watch".
A fine mess
"As they watch their national party and the two candidates battle over the state's presidential primary, Florida Democrats are asking themselves: How did we get into this mess?" "Primary Predicaments Trouble Florida Democrats".
tax fee increase
"Most of the talk in Tallahassee is about budget cuts, but a few lawmakers are willing to whisper that they're also considering hiking fees. An election year is never a good time to do anything that opponents can cast in campaign mailers as tax increases. So lawmakers are wary of asking Floridians for any more cash out of their pockets." The details: "Lawmakers in Tallahassee look at higher fees to aid budget".
Double shot of Daniel Ruth
Today: "Ronda Storms, Sex Scandals, Our Elections And Other Career Annuities".
Yesterday: "Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!"
"Legislators are all for democracy unless they disagree with the results"
The Palm Beach Post editors: "A constitutional amendment moving quickly through the Senate, where it goes before another committee Wednesday, would get rid of the Board of Governors, which voters created in 2002 - through another amendment — to set policy for the university system. The bill also calls for an elected commissioner of education, something the voters in 1998 - through another amendment - correctly decided that the state could live without. As usual, legislators are all for democracy unless they disagree with the results." "Leave universities alone".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah "is sponsoring a bill that would prevent American doctors from practicing in Florida if they earned their medical degrees in Cuba. The proposal is wildly preemptive. There are no Cuban-trained Americans practicing in the state; there may never be. And not even the Bush administration believes that the Cuban medical schools are a problem. ... Banning these doctors from Florida serves no purpose other than pandering to the most extreme segments of the exile community - and those can get pretty extreme. But pandering is the prescription Rep. Gonzalez has in mind." "Diagnosis: Panderitis".
The times, they are a changin'
You see, "no one has been charged before for giving advice about legal fees to another attorney, said former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey." "Miami lawyer's unprecedented arrest troubles defense attorneys".
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editors: "With the economy in dire straits, budgets frayed from legislative cutbacks and voter-induced reductions in property tax levies, governments face serious challenges in meeting demand for services." "Sharing Resources".
Mike Thomas: "Even an FCAT supporter can see room for improvement".
"It isn't rocket science"
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "This isn't rocket science. Even NASA admits it isn't rocket science. Deciding where to build a new 200-acre, dual-launchpad complex for private users, a NASA administrator agrees, 'is essentially about land use.'" "NASA shouldn't even be considering this land for launchpad".
Slow news day
"With the Democratic primary still raging, Hillary and Barack are getting all the attention. So, to remind you that John McCain's still out there, [Scott Maxwell shares] a behind-the-scenes story that happened years ago in Orlando." "Keller anecdote cleans up McCain's salty language in '00".