State funded K-12 education vs. corporate tax cuts

Again, thank you, Gov. Rick Scott. Seems he wants to hold back on state funded K-12 education, instead reduce corporate taxes in the hope of inducing more businesses to come to Florida and keep current Florida corporations happy with our state’s tax structure and, more importantly, with Rick Scott.

The governor will not be running for reelection; he is termed out of that office. Be careful, if he decides to run for the U.S. Senate, he will be looking for financial support from our state’s business community.

However, members of the Florida House and Senate will be running for reelection and I know they will not want the deflection of future student school financial help from the state redirected to reduce corporate taxes and imposing most educational increases on local governments.

Most members up for reelection are Republican and understandingly favor big business. However the state not advancing funds for K-12 education hits everyone, both Democrat and Republican, and can definitely affect voter support at election time.

So what does the governor support and how does the legislature feel about his position? First the governor: Scott proposes increasing K-12 funding by $500 million. A big surprise. Thank you.

But, and it is a big but, only $80 million of the $500 million will come from state funding. The balance would come from property taxes that homeowners and businesses pay. His logic: The increased value in Florida real estate will cover the educational contribution. In other words the increase in revenues, county and municipalities anticipated, would be diverted to cover the state’s proposed increase in education funding

The governor must think we Florida taxpayers are stupid when he stated that it would not be an increase to the taxpayer as the tax “rate” will not go up because of the educational funding increase. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, a former Okaloosa County School Board member and the senator now responsible for the Senate’s education budget, thinks otherwise. His question: Will the taxpayers of Florida consider having to pay more in taxes to be a tax increase?

Gaetz makes several recommendations to the legislature including a 50/50 split in the increase in education funding. He points out that here in Miami-Dade a home with a $300,000 assessed value would see a $10.61 increase or a $120 increase on $300,000 non-homestead property.

The governor wants to take credit for a state-funded increase of a half billion dollars in education funding while only absorbing $80 million from state funding. He is denying county and municipalities the ability to benefit from their increased ad valorem taxes to cover needed expenses that have been deferred due to reduced revenues over the past few years.

Yet, the governor wants to be able to say, “Look at me, I am funding your kid’s public school education a half a billion dollars more than last year. Aren’t I great?” I don’t think so.

Why is this so important? Not that that question must be asked. But Florida has nothing to crow about when it comes to public school spending. Here are some statics: Florida spent, in 2013, $8,433 per student. As an example, states spending much high amounts are: New York, $19,818; the District of Columbia, $17,953, and Connecticut, $16,831.

Our children’s’ preparation for the future will determine the future of America. Without an educated population our country has nowhere to go but down. I recently read an article on foreign national students at our major universities and learned that my old alma mater, Wharton, has as many foreign national students in graduate school as American born. Everyone, worldwide, is in competition for well-paying jobs which demands educated applicants. Let’s not let other states continue to get the jump on our kids.

State funded K-12 education vs. corporate tax cuts — which do you prefer?

We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to MCMHoldingsInc.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper, its editors or publisher.


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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at kbluh@americanbsm.com or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

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