House Finance and Tax Committee chairman Ellyn Bogdanoff blasted Democrats Monday on her committee for failing to bring forth bills that will raise taxes even though she admitted no Repubican had offered a single idea either. Meanwhile, Bogdanoff said her committee will create its own committee bill that will include both elimination of some sales tax exemptions as well as the additional exemptions so that it is "revenue neutral.'
"They have abdicated their responsibility to participate in this process,'' she said of the Democrats, whom she noted had long called for elimination of the sales tax exemptions as a way to raise new revenues.
"Basically at this point, I'm not really sure where the minority party is going,'' Bogdanoff said. Seconds after Bogdanoff adjourned the meeting, the House Majority office released a press release blasting the Democrats.
After the meeting, Rep. Jim Waldman tried to talk to Bogdanoff about why she didn't hear his bill to raise the cigarette tax $1 to help deal with the state's $3 billion budget hole. Bogdanoff said she wasn't likely to take up Waldman's bill and that she opposed any bill to raise taxes.
Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, a Sarasota Democrat and member of the committee, called Bogdanoff's comments "a cynical political game" intended to extort Democrats into offering tax exemptions only to have them voted down by the Republicans on the committee. He noted that the Senate's Finance and Tax committee received a report from the business-backed research group, TaxWatch, which included millions that could be raised from eliminating exemptions but the House never attempted to even seek that kind of input.
"Obviously the endgame has always been" Democrats should be the ones to raise taxes,'' Fitzgerald said. "They obviously just play to show. They want to distract from the fact that they made a mess of this and they don't know what to do to fix it."
Waldman said he tried to talk to Bogdanoff after the meeting about his bill to raise the cigarette tax "and she walked away."