Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

Once again, students are facing a jump in tuition – as they have for the past nine years. Why is this happening? One reason is that there is not enough money in the state budget. So state lawmakers are balancing the budget on the backs of college students. We need to ask a key question: Why is there a shortage of tax money in a place as prosperous as Florida? Here’s one reason: Florida exempts more sales tax ($25 billion) than it takes in ($17.5 billion). These tax exemptions are not going to the everyday Joe, like you and me. Many of these tax breaks are going to rich corporations that can afford to pay the sales tax in the first place.

Why is it that the state of Florida has about 440 tax loopholes? One reason is that Florida’s tax system hasn’t been reformed since 1949! Can you name one successful business that hasn’t changed the way they do things in over five decades? It hasn’t been reformed because of politics, and the special interest groups that benefit from these tax breaks who financially back these politicians. To make Florida’s tax system fair, we citizens are going to have to do it.

This is where the FAIR campaign comes in. FAIR is an effort to amend our state’s Constitution to make the Legislature review state sales tax loopholes. FAIR stands for Floridians Against Inequities in Rates. The campaign was started by three former public officials, past Florida Senate President John McKay, former state Comptroller Bob Milligan, and past state Senator Jack Latvala. These leaders saw first hand that Florida was in for some serious budget problems. They are leading a campaign to have the Legislature review of all the tax loopholes, and only keep the ones that serve a public purpose. If only ten percent on the loopholes were eliminated, Florida would have 2.5 billion more to work with! The Legislature might put more money toward education and stop piling more tuition increases on college students.

We need 480,000 signatures to get the FAIR amendment on the ballot in November 2004. If college students got active, we could make this change for Florida. We need volunteers and we are also hiring paid petitioners to get involved, contact Jason Zauder or Casey Crangle at 850-222-5862, or visit our website at fairamendment.com. Let’s fight tuition increases with some common sense, Florida!

Casey CrangleFlorida State University850-980-4034