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Time to talk taxes -- income & services -- Wetherell says

The only solution to Florida’s budget problems lies in raising more revenue, says Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell.

If that means a personal income tax, a tax on services, it’s worth considering, Wetherell said Thursday at Capital Tiger Bay in Tallahassee.

“We need to have a tax discussion that transcends the bureaucracy,’’ Wetherell said. “I had hoped the Constitutional Revision Commission could do it but they got more balled up in politics than the

FSU is facing $60-million in budget cuts this year and the probable loss of 200 staffers as they struggle to meet revenue shortfalls during an economic downturn.

Florida cannot continue to run quality programs at its colleges and universities and other state agencies without revenue it can count on, he added. Millions of dollars from a federal stimulus plan is not the
answer because it is not recurring money and merely postpones the problem for two years.

If Florida doesn’t find the courage to pay for higher education, Florida State and Tallahassee “will wither on the vine.’’

Florida’s historically low tuition is part of the problem, he noted. Students at FSU pay $3800 a semester for tuition. Wetherell noted that tuition for his grandson in kindergarten at a private school in
Tallahassee is $8,000 a semester.

Wetherell, a former house speaker, said the situation today is the worst he’s seen in 35 years as a Florida educator.

-- Lucy Morgan