Are Florida Business Groups Really That Dumb?

The Buzz and other media outlets are reporting today that the National Federation of Independent Businesses/Florida will be supporting the Super Homestead Exemption amendment to be voted on in January. This is on the heels of the Associated Industries of Florida announcement that it also supports the amendment.

Um. What?

Let’s see two business groups – one representing larger businesses, the other representing small businesses – are going to support a measure designed to help homeowners and shift an even greater share of the property tax burden on to non-homestead (i.e. commercial) property owners. Now, I realize that business owners and employees are also homeowners, but (according the the Buzz) even the NFIB’s own interal survey points out just how little sense this makes (emphasis added):

According to the survey, NFIB members clearly care about the benefits being provided to both groups, 76 percent of respondents voting that not enough relief is being provided for non-homesteaded property owners and 54 percent voting that not enough relief is being provided for homeowners.

So, if 3 out of every 4 businesses say not enough is being done – why on God’s green earth would their group be supporting a measure that will actually make things WORSE for them?

Now, I completely understand why the Florida Association of Realtors is behind the amendment. It will help people buy and/or sell houses. Realtors will make more money. In fact, if the exemption passes, it will actually create an environment in Florida where people who opt to retain their Save Our Homes amendment will start selling their homes in seven to ten years, at which time their taxes under the SOH will be higher than their taxes under the Super Exemption. Talk about a guaranteed kickstart to the housing market. [Note to self: Remember to look into getting a real estate license in about 2015.]

So, no truthfully, can anyone provide me with a straight answer as to why AIF and NFIB would be so gullible and so misguided as to actually spend their money on something that is more-than-likely doomed to fail? Anyone? Beuller?

Ah. That stunned silence you hear is fear of House Speaker Marco Rubio. You see, he has built a reputation – nationally – for leading the charge to slash property taxes. Heck, he wants to eliminate them all together. So, how does a special interest group, with priorities to pass in the 2008 legislative session endear itself to the man who controls the agenda? Oh, by supporting his most important priority.

Speaker Rubio is an honorable, ethical gentleman. Under no uncertain terms am I saying that he is selling the legislature (contrary to some cynical or liberal beliefs). He has not and will not do that. That being said, it’s still a lot easier to talk to friends than to enemies. And no one wants to make an enemy of the Speaker. Not even Democrats. So why not make an effort to help the Speaker, so he will be more willing to at least hear you out when the time comes for your priorities to pass?

Thus, although the passage of the Super Exemption amendment will hurt Florida’s businesses, they are lining up to work to help pass it. Such an act is like cutting off their proverbial nose to spite their face. Hopefully, the leadership of these groups get the credit they deserve while the members recognize what is really going to happen down the line.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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