New survey says Floridians would support higher corporate taxes to pay for education

Another Scott plan that has been panned by virtually everyone who has studied it, that is his idea to reduce the state's prison budget by a cool billion dollars, flies in the face of what this state is doing vis a vis the criminal justice system.

The Pew Report says that even in 2009, where for the first time in 38 years the prison population decreased nationally, it went up 1.5% in Florida.

And what about how Florida takes in its revenue, which is mostly through property and sales taxes?  On the campaign trail, we've heard lots of different ideas from Democrats and Republicans on how to address the situation.  The Pew Report says that if given a hard choice, Floridians would prefer the corporate tax go up, though that doesn't bring in that large a percentage of funds as those other main sources do:

By relying on these fees and measures including expanded revenue from Seminole tribe gambling, a $1 per pack increase in cigarette taxes and a sweep of money from dedicated trust Florida thus far has avoided increasing either of the state’s two largest sources of tax revenue: sales and corporate taxes. If forced to examine those options, residents in Florida are more inclined to prefer an increase in corporate taxes (42 percent) over a broadening of the sales tax to purchases made on the Internet (27 percent) or to a larger number of products not now taxed 22 percent). But corporate taxes comprise far less of the state’s revenue than do sales taxes. They account for only about 10 percent of general fund revenue, meaning even a relatively large increase might not cover the state’s budget needs. While 66 percent of Floridians oppose increasing the sales tax rate now paid on purchases, fewer (54 percent) object to extending the sales tax to services not now taxes.  Florida has no personal income tax, and nearly three out of four respondents say they oppose creating one to address the state’s budget challenges.

According to a new report published Wednesday by the Pew Center on the States, Floridians would in one case actual  support paying higher taxes - to pay for K-12 education.

The report looks at five states: Florida, California, Arizona, Illinois and New York, and finds that only in the Sunshine State do less than a majority of the citizens feel the budget situation is a major problem (estimates range that the state will be facing a deficit next year of perhaps $2.5 billion.  By comparison, California lawmakers just finished putting together their budget, where they faced a $19 billion gap).

The report says that thanks to the stimulus program, Florida lawmakers have been able to avoid the hard choices that lawmakers in those other states have had to choose from, which is why Florida politicians are actually held in slightly higher esteem than their colleagues across the country.  From the report:

Even more striking, 70 percent of respondents say they would be willing to pay higher taxes just to maintain current funding for K-12 education. Health and human services is the only other area in which a majority (54 percent) of respondents says it would pay igher taxes to maintain funding levels.   Floridians are divided on the issue of paying higher taxes for higher education (49 percent say yes, 50 percent say no).

As Gary Fineout in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports today,  those numbers could undercut Rick Scott's proposal that that calls for slashing state spending in order to pay for property tax cuts and the gradual elimination of the state's corporate income tax.  The former health care chain executive says that will make Florida more attractive for businesses to come to the Sunshine State.


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