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State legislators opt for tax cuts the easy way; Locals left with the bill

The Florida Legislature is eyeing even more tax cuts this year, celebrating its free-market ethos by slashing business taxes and allowing consumers to “keep more of their own money.”

But as lawmakers take credit for handing out tax cuts to businesses and homeowners, most are not coupling the revenue reductions with equal-sized cuts in spending, leaving local governments to sort out how to balance their budgets.

“We’re trying to take credit for cutting taxes when we’re, in essence, really just telling somebody else ‘You need to cut,’” Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, warned fellow lawmakers during a committee meeting where lawmakers approved more than $600 million in cuts to local governments.

In total, the Legislature has advanced proposals for several billion dollars in new unfunded tax cuts that, if passed, will come out of the coffers of cities and counties across the state. Local governments, which have hired lobbyists to fight back against some of the cuts, say state lawmakers are leaving them with a bleak choice: Either cut already-pared-back services and salaries to offset billions of dollars in reduced revenue, or raise property tax rates to cover some of the shortfall.

Read the rest of the story here.