Coalition calls for tax increases to address budget shortfall

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Advocates for social services, public employees and college students called for the Legislature to consider increasing taxes, removing tax exemptions and ending business subsidies like those for professional sports stadiums instead of deeper budget cuts as a solution the state’s $3.75 billion budget shortfall, reports the News Service of Florida. “We’ve been hearing over and over again that there are no choices, we have$4 billion dollar deficit, there’s nothing to do but cut, cut, cut,” said Karen Woodall, coordinator of the Coalition for Fair and Comprehensive Tax Reform, which put together a press conference Monday to highlight alternatives. “… The fact of the matter is, legislators do have choices.” According to advocates, the state could raise $5 billion or more by getting rid ofa slew of exemptions, credits and “loopholes” in the current code, taxing some services and at least partially reinstating the intangibles taxes. “We have a budget that has no courage whatsoever. … We’ve addressed a budget crisis by lying to the Floridians that pay taxes and saying that there are no alternatives,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. Added Roy Miller, president of The Children’s Campaign: “The question we want to pose is: Has compassionate conservativism been replaced by political indifference?” For their part, legislative leaders have flatly rejected tax increases, saying raising taxes when the economy is just beginning to regain its footing could hurt the recovery.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.