Fla. Republicans choosing tax breaks over health care
Ever heard of a “three-martini lunch tax break?” If you haven’t, you need to read Gray Rohrer’s April 14 story (“Florida Senate eyes corporate tax cuts”) in the Orlando Sentinel about the Florida Senate’s plan to cut corporate taxes while reducing spending on our hospitals and universities.
This story should serve as yet another wake-up call to every Florida taxpayer. As Florida’s former elected chief financial officer, I focused on the financial health of our state, and policies supporting job growth, and especially our small businesses which employ millions of Floridians.
Most Florida families are working hard, helping their kids navigate school during a pandemic and paying their monthly bills. Meanwhile, the Republican majority in the Legislature is in Tallahassee feverishly scheming to find ways to cut funding for things we all rely on, like hospitals, access to health care and schools, so they can keep padding the pockets of their corporate donors.
That’s not right. They know it. And we know it. But they will keep at it unless we hold them accountable.
So, let’s see what our “representatives” are doing up there in Tallahassee. And what they’re not doing.
For starters, they’re refusing to expand Medicaid to cover 800,000 uninsured Floridians, even in the midst of a pandemic. This, despite the fact that under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, if we expanded Medicaid now, the federal government would actually pay Florida to do the right thing. Not only would covering all these uninsured Floridians save lives, it would save the state a projected $3.5 billion as well. As a finance professional, I think that’s a good return on investment.
Now, let’s talk about that so-called “three martini lunch tax break.” This proposal would make it so when big corporate CEOs meet at the club for lunch, and maybe a few martinis, instead of only being able to write off 50% of their meal they could write off 100%.
According to estimates, that would add up to more than $60 million of our tax dollars over a three-year period. If you ask me, those CEOs can afford to buy their own lunches and their own martinis — and that $60 million could be used to support the education of our children.
While Republican politicians would like you to believe they’re looking out for mom and pop businesses, the truth is these tax breaks would only apply to the top 1% of Florida corporations. The biggest of the big. On top of that, Florida already has among the lowest corporate tax rates in the country.
Let me ask you this: Did you contact your representatives and ask them to take money out of your pocket and put it into the bank accounts of the top 1% of giant corporations? Of course not. You know who did? Lobbyists for these giant corporations. So why shouldn’t the most successful corporations pay their fair share?
The Republican legislators and lobbyists hiding out in Tallahassee are counting on us being too busy to notice they’re picking our pockets. That’s why we have to pay attention, speak up and push back.
Because our system of government of, by and for the people, only works when we the people — that’s us — remind our elected representatives that we pay their salaries, they work for us and cutting funds to hospitals and schools to put more money in the already fat bank accounts of the biggest corporations is not the job we sent them to Tallahassee to do.