Coalition lines up to oppose $9 billion-plus property tax "swap"
By AARON DESLATTE
10:32 PM EDT, June 24, 2008
A broad coalition ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to the AARP and school teachers is lined up to oppose the $9 billion-plus property tax "swap" on the Nov. 4 ballot known as Amendment 5.
Protect Florida's Future, announced Monday by state Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, is planning TV ads, direct mail and even town hall forums to argue that the amendment would force a tax increase on everything from hospital meals and legal services to haircuts and pet grooming. "We think the more information people have, the less likely they'll support it," said Haridopolos.
Q.What is Amendment 5?
A. If approved by 60 percent of voters, it would eliminate $9.5 billion in school property taxes now levied on businesses and homes and require the Legislature to replace it while increasing school funding, requiring $11 billion in all.
Q. Would it raise taxes?
A. Proponents say homeowners and businesses would see property tax bills drop by about 25 percent. In return, they'd pay a 1-cent sales tax increase, which would replace roughly $4 billion at most. The remaining $7 billion could come from closing sales-tax exemptions, economic growth or finding "other revenues." Critics fear it would bring back the services tax Florida rescinded in the late 1980s.
Q. What do proponents say?
A. The group, which calls itself "Yes on 5," says the tax "swap" would shift more of the cost of schools onto tourists who pay sales tax.
Q. Who is fighting the amendment, and why?
A. Lots of interest groups. Hospitals and nursing homes fear services like institutional meals could be taxed. Education groups fear additional cuts in school budgets.
Q. Who's on the other side?
A. Principally, the Florida Realtors.