Monday, November 5, 2007

Legislative Update

The Florida Legislature may not be in session, but we've still got to keep an eye on the results of their handywork. Plus, we ought to be on the lookout for what they have in store for us next.

Property Tax

Herald-Tribune - 'Best' isn't good enough

The proposed property tax amendment might prove popular enough with voters in January to gain the 60 percent required for passage -- after all, the most significant monetary benefits would accrue to full-time resident homeowners, who are among the most frequent voters.

But the proposal and process that led to it fail the tests of good government and effective leadership. The amendment would not solve the most pressing problems related to property taxes,, yet it would compound other problems. Furthermore, it is designed to appeal to the self-interests of a specific group of taxpayers -- property owners with homestead exemptions -- at the cost of other taxpayers and with little consideration of the social and economic impacts statewide.

Tallahassee Democrat - This isn't reform

Right now, it's property taxes, but the bigger issue is that Florida is not a high-tax state. People move down here from high-tax states and, within a year or less, start complaining.

When he was governor, Bob Graham used to call Florida "a mistress state" that people visit for a good time, but they don't think of the old gal needing roads and prisons and schools and environmental protection - all the stuff they pay for back home.

We are a big, growing, diverse state with a strait-jacket revenue system based on a regressive, Swiss-cheese tax code. The sales tax, mainstay of our budget, is riddled with exemptions that were enacted not because they produce jobs or spur the economy, but because somebody hired the right lobbyists.

St. Petersburg Times - Tax reform failure

This is an amendment that takes what's wrong with the current property tax system and amplifies it. The unfair advantage long-time homeowners have over more recent home buyers would be extended. The shifting of the tax burden from homesteaded property to nonhomesteaded property would be exacerbated. And the cost for making matters worse would be indefensible.

Sun-Sentinel - Onus now on taxation commission to deliver real property tax reform

The onus now shifts to the state Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which has a deliberative enough forum to address issues the lawmakers left undone — notably the glaring inequities in property taxes — and the teeth to either recommend substantial changes to the Legislature or ask the voters to amend the state constitution in other ways.

The question is, will they? The fact that the commission is considering school vouchers, coupled with the chairman's reluctance to tackle sales tax exemptions or other ideas to generate new revenue, is not reassuring. The commission must come up with more comprehensive ideas if Floridians are to expect a broader tax overhaul.


Tallahassee Democrat - Future budget outlook grim, economists say

If the the last round of budget cuts seemed painful, wait until next year, warns one of Florida's top economic forecasters.

"Clearly, no matter what, next year is worse than this in terms of the mismatch between expenditure needs and revenue," University of Florida economics researcher David Denslow said Thursday, following his testimony before the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. The commission, which meets every 20 years, is considering tax issues to put on the November 2008 ballot.

Sun-Sentinel - Florida budget commission panel gets a shot at taxes too

The commission, which meets every 20 years, can put proposed constitutional amendments before voters. It has conducted hearings around the state and is ready to begin debating its ideas for how best to solve the problem of high property tax bills.

But the group was reminded by Jim Scott, a former Broward County commissioner and Republican state Senate president, that it is also responsible for reviewing budget issues. If the amendment proposed by the Legislature does pass, it has been estimated that the state's public school budget could lose more than $2.7 billion in revenue over the next five years.

Florida Taxation and Buget Reform Commission website has information on meetings and proposals.

Bloggers Weigh In

Mark Weaver - A progressive tax reform initiative

Benjamin Kirby - The mess the legislature left and call all new ideas on tax reform

Brian - Citizen involvement and tax policy

What's in store next session?

The legislature will be back in regular session beginning on March 4, 2008. So, assuming they don't schedule yet another special session, we have about 4 months before they start reeking havoc on us again.

Senate Bills for 2008 Regular Session

House Bills for 2008 Regular Session

State of Florida Three Year Revenue and Expenditure Outlook Fiscal Year 2008-09 - 2010-11. (PDF)


gatordem said...

Jennifer - good review. It might also be helpful for people to know when legislative committee meetings are scheduled, if you can get that info.

Also, it would be good for people around the state to know when their local legislative delegations are holding their public meetings. Sometimes those two places can be where the real action is.

Jennifer said...

All that information is on the Florida Legislature's website - you've just gotta look for it.