18 April 2005

Read Jeb's lips: NEW TAXES!

If you have ever driven on a Florida highway and noticed that a drive which used to take 10 minutes a decade ago now takes 45 minutes, then you are not going to be surprised by this next statement. Florida's growth is out of control! It doesn't matter if you are in South Florida, Orlando, Jacksonville, the Tampa Bay area, or any other area in Florida, development is rampant and local elected officials throughout the state are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the needs of their new residents. According to USA Today, Florida is home to the fastest growing county in the country. Unfortunately, the State of Florida is not prepared for this growth.

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner was told to "build it and they will come." Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the Sunshine State. The people came, but the State didn't build anything. We didn't construct new roads, adequate water systems, proficient schools, satisfactory infrastructure, etc. Instead, we have been caught with our pants down, and that definitely makes for an awkward welcome to the newest residents of Florida. What can be done?

Well first of all, this is a time when Florida needs a strong leader who will tackle this problem head-on. Unfortunately, we have Jeb Bush. Providing a statewide growth management plan is necessary, and the State must be willing to pay for it. Governor Bush is not willing to make those funds available, because this plan could interfere with possible tax cuts. The governor is also unwilling to require that developers, who are making a fortune on Florida's growth, pay their fair share. Instead Governor Bush is proposing that the Florida Legislature pass an unfunded mandate along to the local governments and require that they raise the additional funds themselves. Since current law establishes that these new local taxes be authorized by a vote of the people, the governor is suggesting that the requirement for a referendum be eliminated and instead county and city commissions would be able to raise taxes without the approval of the voters.

Local governments are not happy. The governor is essentially mandating that they provide the necessary infrastructure for a worthy growth management plan, but then failing to provide any money. Bush gives them the "choice" to raise taxes, but for all practical purposes, the local governments don't have a choice at all. This legislation would essentially be an enormous tax increase levied by the governor himself, no matter how much distance he tries to put between himself and the local tax collectors.

The St. Petersburg Times reported that this legislation by the governor appears to violate his 1994 pledge to not raise taxes. The governor's office claims that the pledge is still being upheld. According to Bush spokeswoman Alia Faraj, "[Bush] has said very clearly he will never raise state taxes. He's offering flexibility to local governments to address taxes that already exist." (Emphasis added.) The Times writes that Faraj argues that the "governor's push for local tax increases without voter approval is not the same as supporting higher taxes[.]"

The governor's soundbite is starting to sound a lot like he "did vote for the $87 billion before [he] voted against it." Anyone with a brain in their head recognizes that the governor is proposing a massive tax increase, and his effort to keep the blood off his hands doesn't change that fact. The time has come for leadership. If the governor is unwilling to require developers to pay their fair share or to provide state funding for this proposal, then the governor's growth management plan should be recognized for what it is ...

A huge tax increase on Florida's taxpayers by Governor Jeb Bush.


Blogger Mike said...

Great post James...I couldn't have done better, so I linked my blog to yours. Total hypocrisy, and as I like to point out, no personal responsibility.

Of course Jeb would never think to suggest he cut taxes too deeply before 9/11, and left the state running on vapor financially speaking (hey, have they dropped the debt rating for the state yet?)

Great sourcing to...you obviously have done your homework.

12:48:00 AM  

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