The Florida primary elections are Tuesday, and while they will provide insight into which candidates may ultimately receive their political parties’ nominations, there is another pressing issue on this year’s ballot.
Billboards and commercials urging voters to “Vote Yes on One!” have been difficult to ignore over the past few months. The advertisements flaunt Gov. Charlie Crist’s endorsement of the bill. Though they mention that a tax cut will be provided, the ads are oversimplifying a bill that may do more harm than good.
In a press release on yeson1florida.com, Crist states that voting for this amendment will end the suffering of families at the hands of property taxes. To imbue voters with a sense of urgency, Crist tells them in the same release that “if we don’t pass meaningful tax reform with this measure – we may never get another chance.”
This tactic may be sending people to the polls with the wrong information. Crist’s endorsements and the blanket promise of tax cuts could lead to many votes cast without voters truly understanding the amendment’s repercussions.
When taxes are cut, funding for specific programs is often slashed. In this case, to provide relief to homeowners, Florida’s education will be the primary victim. A recent question and answer section on tampabay.com reported that state economists believe if Amendment 1 is passed, $1.55 billion in education funding will be lost within five years.
Tampabay.com also reported that the Hillsborough County School system voted 5-1 to “take a stand” against the amendment. The decision was made because of skepticism as to whether Florida could successfully provide the funding from another source.
The last thing Florida needs is to cut funding from education. While it will be hard for many to pass up the idea of extra money, the damage that will be done to an already floundering education system could be irreversible.
This will also affect the State University System. Charlie Edwards, member of the Florida Board of Governors, mentioned in a BOG meeting that most successful state universities are the result of either generous funding from the state and low tuition costs, or high tuition costs and low funding from the state. Florida has low funding and tuition.
Already suffering from massive budget cuts, public universities statewide will have to take these new losses into account when discussing increases in tuition.
Homeowners that choose to save now may find that the affordable education their children would have received is no longer there when it is time to send out college applications, and they will end up losing money in the long run.