From the House Speaker
“Let me say that I think everything is on the table,” Ray Sansom (R-Destin) said.
To the Minority Leader
“The whole thing is on the table,” Franklin Sands (D-Weston) said.
And even the Senate President
“Is there room on the upside for a cigarette tax? I believe that there is,” Jeff Atwater (R-Palm Beach) said. “Looking back on the burden that we’re placing on property taxes, through the RLE, required local effort, I think all those things are going to be on the table.”
The talk is of finding money to balance the budget.
Despite all the rhetoric, the state income tax isn’t really on the table. What is here is higher revenue from gambling, higher cigarette tax, maybe a tax on stocks and bonds, some alcoholic beverage taxes are on the table, even a tax on bottled water, and dry cleaning.
“You know, we’ve plucked a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon, as they say, we’re going to be talking about serious money,” Sands said.
Everyone at the state level is looking for help from Washington Governor Charlie Crist told editors.
“It’s important to have a level of optimism,” Crist said.
A new poll shows 72 percent favor a cigarette the tax. But those numbers aren’t persuading the Governor…yet.
“It doesn’t change my mind about it,” the Governor said.
But he conceded it’s more likely than ever that a cigarette tax hike, along with the smorgasbord of other fee increases, is going to get to his desk.
“I think what we’ll do is see what the House and Senate do with that issue and give it thoughtful review,” Crist said.
And that’s when tough choices will have to be made.
The Legislature comes back into session on March 3rd.
Floridians will know what taxes, if any will go up by the first of May.