Monday, October 8, 2018
Fort Lauderdale – Riding their buzz from their recent Broward County property tax increase, high tax zealots now have a ballot question before the public to increase the sales tax to 7%. ”It’s only a penny!” is their sales pitch. This sounds small, an easy thing to do to solve Broward’s traffic congestion. However, a penny it is not and it won’t solve the problems. The one percent increase amounts to taking $15.6 billion from the people for transportation improvement projects that have not yet been defined. Also gargantuan is the time period – this tax increase will be locked in for 30 years.
The only project yet identified for the tax money is a shiny $4 billion dollar train. Yes, policy makers love trains despite the fact that ridership ends up being abysmally low while construction and operating costs end up exceeding budget 10-fold. The public tends not to use rail because it can’t get them from Point A to Point B. Furthermore, this $4 billion train will consume portions of key road arteries further exacerbating auto traffic. Proponents of the sales tax increase seem to have forgotten the recent Wave streetcar debacle. Fortunately, this folly of waste was derailed before massive amounts of taxpayer money was tossed into the incinerator. However, the shiny train gives politicians a ribbon-cutting ceremony and local news coverage, something that they cannot resist.
Broward tax-&-spenders have already conceded that the train project may not fly but they say they will figure out other ways to spend that $4 billion on transportation stuff. In fact, the County has not even made the case that Broward is short of funds for capital projects. The ballot question says take the money now and County bureaucrats will devise ways to spend it later. No business and no household would manage its funds in such a nefarious way but it is standard practice in government.
Sales tax increase proponents’ amnesia regarding the Wave project extends to recent amendment history. The same sales tax increase was defeated at the polls just 2 years ago. This was on the heels of a 2014 sales tax increase in Miami-Dade that was sold to fix their traffic system. Not only was there no change in the traffic congestion, Miami-Dade residents saw their toll fees increased! Surely, Broward voters have not forgotten this lesson but the Broward tax-&-spenders are counting on just that.
Upping the sales tax 1% is tantamount to a 17% increase which would make Broward’s sales tax amongst the highest in the state. The higher the price of any good or service, the less the demand for that good or service. Some tourists may decide to vacation elsewhere. Many of us may further shift our purchases to the internet where we can pay zero tax which hurts local businesses. What the tax & spenders don’t understand is that leaving this money in the hands of the people who earned it is economically productive. Private spending results in new businesses opening and new jobs being created leading to increased tax revenues without increased tax rates.
A light is visible in the tunnel and it’s a $15.6 billion train barreling down on us on November 6. The Broward County Libertarian Party and other rational elements of the populace have realized the misguided nature of the sales tax increase measure. It’s too much. It’s too long. The solutions have not been carefully thought out with transportation projects to-be-determined. It’s a recipe for disaster that can be avoided with your “NO” vote.
Funding For Countywide, Transportation System Improvements through Levy Of Surtax
by Steve Litton – Member of the County Executive Committee, Libertarian Party of Broward County.