House Speaker Marco Rubio said late Thursday that he is confident the tax swap approved by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission is a necessary antidote to fixing Florida's broken property tax system. And, while he's had some reservations, his lawyers have convinced him the language does not tie the Legislature's hands.
"I do not believe, as some do, that this will inevitably lead to a services tax,'' Rubio told the Herald."I am also confident that it doesn't have to lead to a limit in sales taxes to one cent.''
Because the state depends on property taxes to approve education, and education needs keep increasing, the pressure to raise property taxes never ends, he said. "I am a staunch believer that we cannot continue to rely on property taxes to fund education because it will inevitably lead to tax increases in the future. In fact, if you look at the reductions in per student funding this year is a result of our unwillingness to raise property taxes.''
On business and trade group opposition: "I think they're simply analyzing it on what an increased sales tax may do to their business models. It's going to make it cheaper to buy and live in a house in Florida. It's going to lower housing costs. That means there won't be continued upward pressure on wages. I don't think they're analyzing that fully that way.''
On Sen. Mike Haridopolos, the lone legislative voice in opposition to the tax swap: "Sen. Haridopolos is just concerned, and rightfully so, of what the climate might be like -- and being forced by the Constitution to raise certain taxes in order to set off the difference. I think that's a legitimate concern. If he's right, and he's able to prove his case and his argument, I don't think they'll get their 60 percent.''