Wednesday, October 26, 2011

George Mindling Column 9-24-2005

Something Not Right In New Institute Report


Not many people in Florida today know who LeRoy Collins was, much less Claude Kirk, but both former governors were important in guiding Florida to where we are today. Collins, a Democrat and Kirk, a Republican, alternately steered Florida on different courses. The LeRoy Collins Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and non-profit organization created in Tallahassee at Florida State University that studies and promotes creative solutions to major private and public issues facing the people of Florida. It is affiliated with the State University System of Florida and works in collaboration with the state's public universities. It is not affiliated in any way with the Collins Institute for Public Opinion. On October 4th, the Leroy Collins Institute (http://www.fsu.edu/~collins/) released a 453-page, jointly authored document that may affect all Florida residents.

Called “Tough Choices, Shaping Florida’s Future,” it may not be well received by many in our area. Of special interest to Southwest Florida is chapter 13, “Empty Nesters and Retirees.” I am certainly in no position to question the validity of the awesome amount of work done compiling the data, but something doesn’t seem quite right with some of the conclusions or statements in the report.

Co-Author David Denslow, University of Florida, states on page 387 the distinguishing difference between retirees and immigrants is the fact retirees don’t have school age children. He did note a lower incarceration rate for retirees, however. Another item that caught my eye is on page 406 where Denslow concludes, “…retirees create jobs whose workers do not pay their own way.” The arithmetic formulas and conclusions certainly don’t represent my opinions as a former business owner. Crediting employees with property tax in their work place is a unique view, at best. Finding a business where, again these are Denslow’s words, “100% of the property tax paid by stores at which retirees only shop to retirees, that leaves nothing to credit to employers,” (Page 406). As a retiree, do I qualify only for fire, police and other services funded solely by my property taxes? Besides, I can’t think of a single business that only sells to retirees except maybe the memorabilia stands at the flea markets that sell Red Sox pennants and Patriots banners. Maybe I haven’t been retired long enough.

The report basically concludes that Medicaid is the biggest tax hog in Florida and the voter mandated class size amendment should be abandoned. There are many little adjustments to the tax structure including internet taxes, higher impact fees, and levying small “special purpose” fees and taxes. I ran out of paper downloading the massive document and haven’t yet read every page. I can hardly wait.

But then, I’m just a Florida Boy who has been here longer than ten years, apparently a non-quantifiable profile in the accumulated data. Maybe, just maybe, there should be an in-depth public discussion of the report before the legislature starts changing the tax laws and basically sticking it to the retirees, or even worse, our future students.


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