The Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission meets only every twenty years and is supposed to be free of political pressures. Florida has the country's second most regressive tax structure, mainly because it has no state income tax. The state is facing a multi-billion dollar fiscal shortfall according to this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities paper.
Now would be the perfect time for the Commission to come forward and offer creative revenue-raising ideas. Yet, as a Palm Beach Post editorial rightly states, the Commission "is wasting its opportunity to update the state's outmoded tax structure." Even a proposal that would broaden the state's sales tax base and close loopholes appears to have been rejected. Many businesses cling to their unjustified exemptions from the sales tax. As the Palm Beach Post explains, "The argument that customers of lawyers, accountants and architects will go to Georgia to avoid a 6 percent tax has achieved almost magical reverence in Tallahassee." Broadening the sales tax base would go along way toward modernizing the state's tax structure and filling the state's budget hole. The inability to think outside of the politically popular box continues to plague Floridians.
Commission members and other policymakers would do well to read the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy's brief describing how the quality of life in Florida compares to that of other states. For example, Florida has the 2nd highest percentage of uninsured children in the country and is 50th in per capita funding for higher education. Florida is the perfect example of residents getting the government they pay for.