Politics

Americans For Prosperity Seeks Candidates' Backing for Pension, Tax Credit Elimination Plans

By: Jim Turner | Posted: June 23, 2012 3:55 AM
Slade O’Brien and Bob McClure

Slade O’Brien and Bob McClure

The conservative group Americans For Prosperity-Florida wants to replace the state employee pension system, eliminate corporate income taxes and it wants Florida to stop giving tax credits to attract businesses.

And while saying they are not in the endorsement business, on Friday they sent every legislative candidate a copy of their new five-point “solutions” for the state. The intent is to get candidates to endorse the plan and promote the ones who have gotten behind the effort.

“I think they’d be eager to endorse this and run on it,” said Slade O’Brien, director of the AFP-FL after unveiling the group’s Five For Florida plan and website -- fiveforflorida.com -- at the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee.

“I think those beholden to special interests are going to have a real hard time and that is a distinction we like and a distinction the public would like, too.”

The five-point plan also calls for putting all state contracts before the public, expanding educational competition by having the Legislature once again vote on the parent trigger -- allowing parents to seek wide-ranging changes at low-performing schools, including changing a traditional neighborhood school into a charter school -- and to further eliminate regulations that delay new business owners.

O’Brien called the plan a means to make Florida more “transparent” and “honest.”

The plan calls for putting new state employees into a 401(k) retirement plan instead of the Florida Retirement System, eliminating business regulations unless they involve public safety, and while officials have argued that incentives are needed to attract businesses to the state and keep others from fleeing, O’Brien said no incentives -- targeted tax credits account for approximately $3.2 billion in Florida -- should be offered.

“When you give exemption to one industry instead of another, the other industries are all paying for that exemption,” O’Brien said. “Why should the truck people pay for the boat people. A free-market system works everywhere it has been tried.”

Counties and cities should also be required to post with the state how long the permitting process takes -- breaking down the length in obtaining licenses, inspections, building permits -- to allow business owners a chance to compare where they want to set up.

Bob McClure, president of the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute, supported the effort for seeking solutions to improve the quality and prosperity of the state.

“If you limit government in our daily lives, and you promote more personal responsibility, you’ll get greater prosperity and a higher quality of life,” McClure said.  

The Five For Florida plan includes:

MAKE TAXES FAIR AND END CORPORATE WELFARE:

Florida tax policy is dictated by cronyism. When politicians pick winners and losers in the marketplace they hurt business owners and hard-working taxpayers. Florida needs a fair and common-sense tax policy to promote jobs and financial security for families and small businesses.

The Legislature needs to eliminate the corporate income tax and all targeted tax credits and exemptions.

This will decrease the burden on businesses, encouraging economic growth and job creation, while also eliminating the corporate welfare that is given to the select, politically favored few.

KEY TALKING POINTS:

•    Lower corporate tax rates result in higher Gross State Product, more rapid employment growth and increased population growth. Source: Rich States, Poor States, 5th Ed.

•    Lowering corporate tax rates can increase tax revenues due to the economic growth they encourage. Source: Rich States, Poor States, 5th Ed.

•    Business taxes affect job creation and retention, business location and competitiveness; higher rates result in lower wages for employees and higher cost products for consumers. Source: Tax Foundation

•    A state’s corporate tax rate is the most relevant tax in the investment decisions of foreign investors. Source: Tax Foundation

•    Tax credits impede the free market, narrow the tax base and drive up tax rates for those businesses or individuals who don’t qualify. Source: Tax Foundation

•    According to the 2012 Florida Tax Handbook, there are approximately $3.242 billion in targeted exemptions and credits for businesses in the Florida tax code.

DON'T MAKE FINANCIAL PROMISES TAXPAYERS CAN'T KEEP
:
Florida’s state and local elected officials have been gambling with taxpayer dollars. They continue supporting financially unsustainable programs, like our current public pension plan and Citizens Property Insurance, because they don't want to tell us a truth we may not like hearing – these programs are financially unsound.

Require that all new state and local government employees be enrolled in 401(k)-style, defined contribution retirement plans.

Our politicians must stop making promises that taxpayers can’t afford. We must force them to be honest with us, and make decisions that will protect us now and in the future. We need an honest, transparent retirement plan that works for both hard-working taxpayers and government workers, and we need a property insurance system that will protect our homes without jeopardizing our future financial security.

KEY TALKING POINTS:

•    Florida’s Retirement System (FRS) serves more than 1 million government employees, making it the fourth largest public pension program in the country. Source: James Madison Institute.

•    The FRS is 88 percent funded, assuming a 7.75 percent return on investment. Over the last 12 years, the fund has received an average return of 3.3 percent. Source: James Madison Institute.



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.
















•    Florida currently has an optional defined contribution plan, however only 16% of employees elect to be enrolled in it, versus the 84% in the pension plan. Source: James Madison Institute

•    Public sector pension programs guarantee a rate of return that is 3 to 4 times higher than what private sector workers are able to earn. Source: The Heritage Foundation

•    The State of Florida currently contributes $5.5 billion per year to the FRS, but would need to double that contribution to $11 billion a year for the fund to remain solvent. Source: James Madison Institute

BE STEWARDS OF GOOD, TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT

Nearly sixty percent of our state budget is spent on contracted services, however there are no specific standards or oversight for these contracts.
That means the state is spending billions of taxpayer dollars each year for programs with little or no accountability.

It is time that the light is shined on all state contracts and they are made public.

The taxpayers deserve to know how the government is spending their hard-earned money and what we are getting for it. There must be transparency for all state contracts, as well as set standards that detail what specific services a contractor is expected to provide and the financial penalties for failing to fulfill their contract.

KEY TALKING POINTS:

•    According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, the State spends nearly $51 billion annually on contracted goods and services.

•    $13 billion in taxpayer dollars may be lost each year due to poorly written and managed contracts, when applying an average error rate. Source: FLDFS

•    Under the current system, contracts are paid by the State’s Chief Financial Officer, however they are only reviewed when payments are called into question – often times resulting in lengthy settlement negotiations or litigation.

EMPOWER KIDS WITH THE BEST EDUCATION

Parents and students should be in control of their education, not bureaucrats or administrators. Florida has excellent opportunities available to students that don't want to take the traditional public school path, including charter schools, virtual school, homeschool, and scholarship programs like Step-Up for Students.

Florida’s school choice programs should be expanded and given the tools necessary for success, and parents should have the ability to turn around failing schools.

Florida kids deserve a future rich with opportunity. We must empower each parent and student with the freedom to choose the best education for them, and give all kids the skills to achieve their dreams.

KEY TALKING POINTS:

•    Florida’s Step-Up for Students scholarship program served 38,032 students in 2012: 70% were in grades K-5, 87.7% are below the poverty line and 56% are in single-parent households. Source: Foundation for Government Accountability

•    In 2012, charter schools served 179,900 Florida students in grades K-12, ranking us 3rd in charter school enrollment in the country. Source: Florida Department of Education

•    In 2011-12, 64% of Florida’s charter students were minorities and 47% were free or reduced lunch eligible. Source: Florida Department of Education

•    Disproportionate funding puts charter schools at a disadvantage over traditional public schools – with charters receiving only 68-71% of district FTE funding. Source: Florida TaxWatch

•    A higher percentage of students score a 3 or better on FCAT reading, math and science tests in charter schools vs. traditional public schools. Source: Florida DOE

•    The bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors voted unanimously to support “parent trigger” laws that allow parents to turn around their children’s failing schools. Source: Reuters, 18 June 2012

FREE ENTREPRENEURS TO PURSUE THE AMERICAN DREAM

Bureaucratic delays and government over-regulation are stifling the entrepreneurial spirit and blocking job creation. Every Floridian deserves the chance to achieve their own personal success without government hassles standing in the way.

Unnecessary regulations and licensing laws must be eliminated and the permitting process should be transparent and streamlined.

Burdensome regulations and licensing laws should continue to be examined and eliminated. The permitting process also often responsible for unnecessary and unacceptable delays. Local governments should be required to report to the state how long it takes them to approve permits, creating transparency for businesses and encouraging local governments to make the process faster and more streamlined.

KEY TALKING POINTS:

•    Florida has the 4th most burdensome licensing laws and is the 7th most onerously licensed state in the nation. Source: Institute for Justice

•    Florida’s burdensome licensing laws deter entry into 45 of the 102 low- and moderate-income occupations surveyed. Source: Institute for Justice

•    Burdensome government regulations and permitting can delay creation of new jobs by weeks, if not months. Source: Foundation for Government Accountability

•    A one-week delay for a new Florida start-up company results in approximately $2,700 in lost wages for a typical staff. Source: Foundation for Government Accountability

•    A one week delay for Florida start-ups, which created 173,236 jobs in 2009, costs the State approximately $9.9 million in lost revenue. Source: Foundation for Government Accountability

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

Comments (8)

Sooooo....
10:04AM JUN 25TH 2012
The money to fund necessary government operations come from?
Frank
2:19PM JUN 24TH 2012
Yes, "When you give exemption to one industry instead of another, the other industries are all paying for that exemption"

So, when you would provide an exemption for one segment of society, then the other segments of society (such as individual tax payers) are all paying for that exemption, correct?
Robert
9:37PM JUN 23RD 2012
Where is Kenric Ward? We've heard there is a boycott of Sunshine State news?
Conservative Voice
7:05AM JUN 25TH 2012
KW left. When people keep telling you to tank your stories it gets old fast. Good luck to Mr. Ward in his future endeavors.
Stephen
7:28PM JUN 25TH 2012
That is sad news. We had heard that Mr. Ward had left, but this website is still keeping him posted in their "about" section. Good for him, his writing was always the best at this site and if they were tanking his stories, I don't blame him for leaving!
Frank
2:13PM JUN 24TH 2012
You must not have anything better to do than continually repeating your heartburn.
Stephen
8:35PM JUN 24TH 2012
Frank, you may be missing the actual news, which you won't find in these "spin" pieces by most of the people who write for this site. Not heartburn, just missing good writing.
Conservative Voice
5:28AM JUN 23RD 2012
Slade O'Brien, the biggest fake to invade the Tea Party Movement in Florida. Check his background and you will find he was a money hack for the Republican party for years. Where was O'Brien in 2009 and 2010? The guy never went to a Tea Party and now according to him he owns it. How? He has purchased most of the so called "leaders" of the movement. No longer are they independent voices of the movement, they are paid employees who must tow the corporate line and policies set forth by O'Brien and AFP executives. If he says jump those former leaders of freedom ask how high.

Just keep in mind people that in 2010 the Tea Parties across the country did great things on their own and with no money or outside influence. Now those who are "smarter" and more refined will take over. Should be interesting indeed.

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