The State of Florida will be voting on January 29th on a Tax reform amendment that is actually a tax increase. It is being sold by the Governor as an increase in the Homestead tax exemption. What it actually does is increase other taxes, cuts fire and police support, while leaving a hole in government funds that will have to be made up in other taxes.
Why talk about this in an educational technology blog? Because the increase in the exemption will cut school funding, which will have to be made up somewhere or we will see drastic cuts in technology projects, teachers, other staff and an overall decrease in the available quality of education we can give our children.
Here are a few of the hard numbers from the state of Florida themselves.
- Experts project that the amendment will cost public schools $204 million next year and $2.76 billion over five years.
- The impact on Sarasota County schools will be $3.5 million for the 08-09 year and $42.7 million over the next 5 years.
- Experts are estimating a change in property values for 08-09 will be 4% to 7% lower than this year. That is a reduction of collected funds for schools from $17 million to $29.7 million.
- The Legislature has promised that schools will be held harmless. That means that the revenue lost by this amendment will have to be made up by an increase in millage rates. This will make voters angry and hurt the passage of the 2010 school referendum.
- For those with “Homesteaded” properties, the assessed value of your home will go up by 3% even with the amendment passing and you will still pay more in school taxes.