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When is Paying More Taxes not a Tax Increase? You Decide

November 16th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

If you pay more in property taxes this coming year, would you consider it a tax hike. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, it’s a battle state lawmakers are about to have, and depending how it turns out, it could cost you more.

Property values in some counties are up 9 percent this year. As a result, school districts will collect 569 million more from property owners

“That’s not a tax increase”  says Senate Budget Chair Rob Bradley.

The Governor, and lawmakers like Bradley who want the money to boost school spending say it’s not a tax increase, because the tax rate did not go up. Bradley uses the analogy of buying a two lawnmowers months apart.

“You will pay more taxes on the second lawnmower than the first lawnmower because the price has increased, but that’s not a tax increase. the tax rate is the same” says Bradley.


But Rep. Matt Caldwell, who chairs the House Governmental Accountability Committee calls the comparison Apples and Oranges.

“At the end of the day the taxpayers are paying more than they were last year” says Caldwell.

The issue is important because lawmakers, not local governments, set the required local effort, which is designed to equalize school funding across the state.

Lawmakers have actually reduced the required local effort over the last two years.

Last year the House drew a line in the sand. Rep. Paul Renner wants to keep it that way again this year.

“We certainly want to lower the tax burden on citizens this year, not increase it” Renner told us.

Rick Scott is siding with the Senate this year. The bulk of his proposed increase for public schools comes from higher local property values.

This year, Governor Rick Scott is seeking fewer tax cuts  and more spending ahead of what is expected to be a run for the U-S Senate.

We asled the Governor’s Office for a statement. Here’s what they sent:


Q: Why did local funds increase in the FEFP?

  • The local millage tax rate will not increase and will remain at the Fiscal Year 2017-18 level of 4.308. This means there is no tax increase because the rate will not change.
  • The amount of local funding provided in the FEFP calculation primarily increased due to a 6.15 percent, or $117.1 billion, rise in the school taxable value that was the result of an increase in the value of Florida property. When property values rise, it’s a good thing for Florida families.
  • While Florida is currently experiencing increased local revenues because property values are rising, the state has also experienced significant reductions in local revenues when property values decline, as it faced during the national recession.


Q: Has state funding increased at a higher rate than local funding in the FEFP since Governor Scott has taken office?

  • Yes. During Governor Scott’s administration, state funding for Florida’s K-12 public schools has increased by $3.2 billion or 36.7 percent, from a total amount of $8.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2011-12 to $11.9 billion in the 2018-19 Securing Florida’s Future budget. During this same time period, the local contribution to the FEFP has risen at a slower pace, increasing by $1.6 billion or 20.8 percent.

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