Thursday, March 08, 2007

Is The Florida House Of Representatives On Drugs?

This ...

... is not this ...

... nor should it ever be.
I don't usually talk about local or state politics in these pages, reserving my spleen for the fearsome train wreck the current Federal administration is making of the country as a whole, but this started to make my blood boil. It's an article from the March 8th edition of the Lakeland (FL) Ledger:
GOP Property Tax Bill Clears House Panel
The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE - The first half of a Republican plan to cut local property taxes by nearly $5.8 billion cleared a House panel Wednesday on a party-line vote, with Democrats complaining it was being railroaded through the chamber. The legislation is being pushed by House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami, and other Republican leaders. The partisan 10-5 vote in the Government Efficiency and Accountability Council came only a day after the Legislature opened its annual session with Rubio urging lawmakers to focus on problem-solving, rather than politics.
Democrats said they objected to the quick vote, not necessarily the GOP bill, because its ramifications are not yet fully known. Lobbyists for cities and counties also objected, saying the tax relief would force them to cut services ranging from law enforcement to libraries. "What is the rush?" asked Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston. "This is only day two of a 60-day session."
Rep. Carl Domino, R-Jupiter, responded: "Procrastination equals inaction. We need to do something."
- snip -
It would roll property taxes back to their Jan. 1, 2001, level, but allow for annual increases to account for population growth and inflation. The rollback would affect city, county and other property taxes, except for those levied by school districts.
- snip -
Polk County would see a 29 percent tax rate reduction, meaning the county would lose $78.4 million a year. Advocates, though, pointed out local government bodies could exceed the property tax cap through a "super majority" vote - a simple majority plus one member, or two-thirds of the full membership. They also said cities and counties could make up for lost taxes by charging user fees for certain services, although other legislation may also require a super majority vote for that.
To partly offset revenue losses to local governments, the amendment also would increase the statewide sales tax from 6 percent to 8.5 percent. Cities and counties, though, would face the same $5.8 billion overall loss.
(read the rest of the article)
Now, think about all the things that the county or city government in your area does for you that you hardly ever notice, let alone think about - police, fire, EMS, parks and recreation, libraries, etc.
Now imagine the city or county being unable to pay for those things, or having to eliminate some of those items in order to pay for essentials.
I own a home and am self-employed, so I stand to gain some advantage by having my property taxes cut. But what about those people who work for the local government, and could conceivably see their pay cut by 25%, with a 3.5% hike in sales taxes?
Is the gas station going to lower its current $2.59 a gallon for regular unleaded to help them out?
Is the supermarket going to lower food prices?

Methamphetamine's a big problem in Florida, so I can only assume that the Republicans who voted this out of committee were either high or completely dissociated from reality (I'm a Republican, so no partisan brickbats, please).
The problem here, I think, is that House Speaker Marco Rubio desperately wants to be Governor after Charlie Crist, and wants to make his bones by getting this monstrosity passed. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone on the GOP side of the aisle in Tallahassee has bothered to think about the worst case scenario.
Which would jibe very well with the attitude up in Washington, where "Plan B is to make Plan A work."


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