Fight Rages in Florida To Save Tax on Services

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Gov. Bob Martinez of Florida may have won back some public support this month when he proposed repealing the state's new 5 percent tax on services, but he gained a vociferous foe in the state's education community.

Education groups throughout Florida rallied last week to save the tax. And they plan to launch a statewide advertising campaign in support of the levy this week, when lawmakers reconvene for the second week of their special session.

The legislature met at the Governor's request Sept. 21-23, but lawmakers failed to reach agreement on the tax.

The Senate passed a bill that would replace the 5 percent tax on services4with a one-cent increase in the sales tax. The House adjourned without taking any action on the measure.

$265-Million Loss

The 5 percent tax on services, ranging from advertising to pest control, took effect July 1. It is expected to raise at least $721 million in revenues this fiscal year, and $1.2 billion in fiscal 1988-89.

Members of the education community estimate that schools could lose as much as $265 million this fiscal year alone if the tax is repealed and not replaced with another source of revenue.

The one-penny sales tax proposed by the Senate would raise nearly the same amount as the tax on services during its first few years. But because Florida's service industries8are growing so rapidly, it would not generate as much income as the services tax over the long term.

Education leaders from across the state--including Commissioner of Education Betty Castor--converged on Tallahassee Sept. 21, at the start of the special session, to express their support for the tax on services.

According to Ms. Castor, repealing the measure would send voters the "wrong signal" about the momentum of the state's school-reform movement.

In addition, she said, rolling back the tax halfway through the current fiscal year would force many districts into financial "chaos."

'A Mistake'

Mr. Martinez originally had waged a bitter fight to win passageel10lof the new tax. But the Governor now claims he "made a mistake."

In the last few months, national corporations have withdrawn millions of dollars in advertising from Florida, and the Governor's voter-approval rating has plummeted in the polls.

In addition, a grass-roots movement is urging voters to abolish the tax by approving a constitutional amendment in November, when many lawmakers stand for re-election.

"The sales tax on services has shaken public policy in Florida to its very foundation," Mr. Martinez said. "We cannot force upon the people of this state a tax they so strongly oppose."

The Governor has asked lawmakers to overturn the tax, effective4Jan. 1. He has promised to prepare a revised budget for the legislature between now and January that would spell out where budget reductions could be made.

Lawmakers expressed some disgruntlement last week, however, when the Governor called them into special session without having proposed a new budget.

A legislative staff member predicted that if the Governor vetoes plans to revise the services tax, or to replace it with another source of revenue, lawmakers would override that veto.

Meanwhile, education groups are exhibiting the most "united front" they have shown in years, according to Richard C. Holihan, executive director of the state's Education Standards Commission. The commission has predicted that loss of the services tax would have "catastrophic results" for Florida's schoolchildren.

Vol. 07, Issue 04

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

To Address Chronic Absenteeism, Dig into the Data

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Keep Your Schools Safe and Responsive to Real Challenges

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

3 Unique Learner Profiles for Emerging Bilinguals

Effective Questioning Practices to Spur Thinking

Empower Reading Teachers with Proven Literacy PD

Dyslexia: How to Identify Warning Signs at Every Grade

Increased Social Connectedness Through Digital Peer Learning

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >