Lawmakers Discuss Tax Exemptions

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

35 year old Pamela Hemmen is a mom on a mission.
She drove 3 hours to the capitol then waited for two hours as lobbyist after lobbyist made their case to keep their tax exemptions.

With just four minutes left in the 2 hour meeting, she got up, told lawmakers she’d never testified before, then blasted them for even considering allowing some exemptions to remain.

“When you are on the fence about some of this issues and whether it is really and truly going to help the people as a whole...not just this one certain class who drives a Mercedes," says Pamela Hemmen.

Hemmen has already organized her kids elementary school and brought dozens of hand written notes. And another child wrote in here...I watched President Obama last night and he urged all of us to get more education. Why are you cutting our education?” The mother of three is fighting an up hill battle.

The GOP stacked committee likes most of the exemptions it is reviewing.

Republican Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Ft. Lauderdale says, "I think this is an important exercise because I believe the public perceives that these sales tax exemptions are just give away, and very often they are not.”

The chairwoman was quick to note the exemptions under review total just 500 million,when the state faces a deficit 10 times bigger.
Hemmen says she plans to keep coming back weekly until someone listens.

Hemmen is from St. Augustine, is a realtor, has an MBA and has children ranging from pre-school to 3rd grade. In total, Florida exempts more from the sales tax than it receives each year.

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  • by Larry Hickman Location: Bradenton, Fl on Mar 9, 2009 at 04:46 AM
    So 500 million is 1/10th closer to balancing the budget. With that carefree attitude of Rep. Ellyn Bogdonoff, she needs to be out of office. She is just another fat cat politician that speaks ridiculously. With her attitude nothing will be resolved. Maybe the answer then is that politician should be taxed 10 times greater than the rest of the population. That makes as much sense has her comments.
  • by Bob Location: Jasper on Mar 6, 2009 at 08:55 AM
    The "do away with the exemptions - increase the tax" crowd should be careful. Doctors, dentists and hospitals could be taxed if all exemptions are done away with, as well as food. I fail to see how any of that would benefit the poorer among us. Exemptions for sky boxes and yacht repairs can probably be eliminated but what about groceries, services such as construction and hairdressers? Would anyone like to see another 6% on their doctors bills or medicine? Each exemption should be looked at individually, not just "all exemptions". The idea is bring in more money to the state WITHOUT hurting the poor, remember?
  • by ccw Location: inyourface on Mar 6, 2009 at 05:43 AM
    this would cut down on money laundering at beauty shops and other tax exempt businesses.
  • by Bob Location: Perry on Mar 5, 2009 at 09:27 PM
    With the state of our economy like it is, now is the right time to eliminate all of the exemptions. Our state is operating on guidelines created in the 1950's. What better time to revamp and start over. The state of FL could use the $.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 5, 2009 at 07:13 PM
    Is there any good logical reason why RICH people deserve to have a tax break on luxuries like stadium skyboxes or repairs to the yacht that they paid well over $250,000. or more to purchase? We have millions of residents in the state that can barely afford the basics for their families and struggle to educate their children and deal with healthcare problems.
  • by Bob Location: Jasper on Mar 5, 2009 at 05:11 PM
    I have a solution. Charge a tuition for public school. Make it mandatory, paid by the parents of children in school. Maybe then parents would take more interest, not just consider the school a babysitter. After all, there is nothing in the Constitution that provides for a free government education. If the parents are so upset let them pay to improve the schools. I'm tired of seeing my tax dollars go to teach "Johnny has two mommies" while the kids in the supermarket can not even make change. It takes less then half as much per student to run private schools that really perform. Why can the public schools not do it?
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