Charlie Crist on Tax Reform



2007: lowered property taxes by $33B over 5 years

I introduced a plan to lower the soaring property taxes that Florida homeowners had to pay. This was a heavy lift. It required an amendment to the Florida state constitution. As home values had risen over the years, taxes had shot way up. Now that prices were slipping, the taxes never seemed to fall. I wanted to double the state's $25,000 homestead exemption, roll back city and county tax collections to 2003-04 levels, and make the state's Save Our Homes tax cap more flexible. My approach would save taxpayers $33.5 billion over 5 years, the analysts said.

"We won't let you down," I told a group of public school teachers.

Source: The Party's Over, by Charlie Crist, p. 87 , Feb 4, 2014

2009: temporary $25 average car fee increase

[Americans for Tax Relief, who are supportive of Gov. Scott, released the following press release]: Governor Rick Scott announced plans to make good on his promise of $500 million in tax relief. His latest initiative will save Florida drivers over $400 million; plans for the other $100 million in savings will be announced in January. Scott aims to undo a 54% increase in automobile registration fees signed into law in 2009 by then Governor Charlie Crist.

The 2009 fee hike raised automobile registration fees from approximately $46 to $71, forcing Florida taxpayers to pay an additional $25 on average. Scott recognizes that taking money out of the pockets of Florida's families is the wrong approach to expanding Florida's economy.

Crist says he's glad that Governor Scott got on around to rolling back the fees, and that they were never meant to be permanent.

Source: Americans for Tax Reform on 2014 Florida Governor race , Dec 16, 2013

Double homestead exemption to $50K & taxes drop like a rock

We did succeed in making property taxes the biggest issue in the state. We passed the plan in the house with almost unanimous support from Republican members. But it was clear to us that Gov. Crist was working with senate Republicans to undermine us.

He boasted he would demand that a new law cause property taxes to "drop like a rock." The plan he had advocated as a candidate to double the homestead exemption (a property tax exemption on the first $25,000 of value you could claim on your primary residence) would have reduced property taxes only negligibly. But that hardly mattered to him. His real purpose was to make certain he got the credit for whichever plan passed.

The governor lobbied the senate to pass his plan. The idea polled well, which was why he had proposed it during his campaign. But I criticized it publicly, explaining to the press and anyone who would listen that doubling the homestead most certainly would not make property taxes "drop like a rock."

Source: An American Son, by Marco Rubio, p.153-154 , Jun 19, 2012

Pushed moderate property tax relief instead of 1.35% cap

Within months, Crist and Rubio were at war with each other over property taxes. Rubio wanted to eliminate property taxes on primary residences and replace that revenue with a sales tax. He argued that eliminating the property tax would increase the value of Florida homes and would attract more retirees to the state, who would in turn fill the state's coffers by increasing sales [tax revenue]. Proponents hailed the idea as a way to give relief to Floridians, whose taxes had soared because of increasing home values; critics said it would benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

Crist came up with a rival plank and the two sparred in dueling media statements. Later that year Rubio tried another approach suggesting setting a low cap of 1.35% on property tax rates. Neither of Rubio's proposals became law, leaving him visibly frustrated. Although Rubio was unsuccessful in selling his property tax proposals, the legislature and Crist did eventually agree to modest tax relief.

Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p.134-136 , Jun 19, 2012

Extend the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers

Crist said extending the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers would help boost home sales in Florida. "I think any time you can reduce taxation in order to spur the economy forward, that's a good thing to do and that would be great to do," he said.
Source: CNN "State of the Union" on 2010 Florida Senate debate , Jul 22, 2010

Reduce the tax brackets to let private enterprise flourish

CRIST: As it relates to taxes, as somebody who believes that we need to reduce the tax brackets, we need to reduce the income tax, in order to have private enterprise flourish--we have to do that because I think that we have an obligation to have this dream called America continue to be able to prosper. We've done that in Florida. In fact, I signed into law the largest single tax cut in the history of my state. Let me talk about my opponent and what he did on taxes. He proposed the largest tax increas in the history of my state, about a $9 billion increase in taxes. He said it would be some kind of a swap and that justifies it. But it would have hit sales tax, which would have been the most regressive tax that you could imagine--in other words, meaning that people who can least afford it have to pay the same as people who can afford a lot more.

RUBIO: That program would have eliminated property taxes for all sorts of people. And it was supported by Jeb Bush.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2010 Florida primary Senate debate , Mar 28, 2010

2006: Pledged no taxes; 2009: $2.2B in fees on 16M people

Q: When you were running for governor in 2006, you made a George H.W. Bush pledge, you will not raise taxes as long as you're governor. Last year you signed a $66 billion state budget that had a $2.2 billion increase in new taxes and fees. Didn't you break your promise?

CRIST: No, I don't think I did, and I'll tell you why. The only part of it that was a tax--and it's loosely defined as a tax--was on cigarettes. And I would argue that that's a user fee. If you don't use them, you don't pay it.

Q: But you also signed into law higher fees on drivers' licenses and on motor vehicle registration, motor vehicle tags. You said these aren't broad-based taxes. Governor, 16 million people are drivers in Florida. That's a pretty broad-based tax, isn't it?

Source: Fox News Sunday 2010 Florida primary Senate debate , Mar 28, 2010

Reduce property taxes by doubling homestead exemption

I have set forth a plan to reduce property taxes by doubling your homestead exemption, making the save our homes protection portable and extending that protection to business and rental properties as well. Whatever form of property tax relief you decide upon, it must be comprehensive, it must bring real relief to our people, and it must be put before the voters this year. Our people deserve real relief, and with your leadership, I know they will get it.
Source: 2007 State of the State Address , Mar 6, 2007

Replace income tax with a flat tax or national sales tax

Q: Do you support replacing the U.S. income tax structure with a flat income tax?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support eliminating the Internal Revenue Service?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support instituting a national sales tax?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support requiring a super-majority vote in both houses of Congress to raise taxes?

A: Yes.

Source: Congressional 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1998

Best to extend all tax cuts; but compromise and push later

Obama favors extending the Bush tax cuts only for households earning less than $250,000, about 98% of all taxpayers. Rubio argued, "There's a difference between compromise and cutting a deal," Rubio said. "Compromise is a good thing. Cutting deals in Washington, there's too much of that."

Meek defended Obama's economic strategy. "There were surpluses," he said. "There are no longer surpluses. So we're digging a deeper hole. And what Rubio and also Crist are representing, let's continue to dig, and trickle-down economics will work for the middle class in creating jobs."

Crist, running as an independent, straddled the positions of his rivals, supporting a compromise on the tax cuts. "I want all the tax cuts extended, but sometimes you've got to give relief to the people and they deserve it now," Crist said. "If there's a way to go ahead and do that in the short term and then after January to push for the other tax cuts, that's what I think the real solution is."

Source: Business Week coverage of 2010 Florida Senate debate , Oct 25, 2010

$12B in federal economic stimulus as state block grants.

Crist signed $12B in federal economic stimulus as state block grants

The nation's governors urge you to include state countercyclical funding as part of your legislation to stimulate the economy. This would include $6 billion in Medicaid assistance by freezing scheduled federal FMAP reductions and increasing all states' F Congress approved $20 billion in assistance to states, including $10 billion in Medicaid and $10 billion in block grants. The governors' current stimulus proposal is essentially the same, with the exception that it is a total of $12 billion as opposed to $20 billion. This proposal can be enacted quickly, as there is precedent and it is timely, temporary and targeted.

Additionally, governors appreciate federal efforts to use tax policy to get additional money into the hands of consumers and businesses to stimulate the economy. When considering tax changes to spur economic growth, governors urge Congress and the Administration to follow the maxim of "Do no harm" by avoiding changes at the federal level that would diminish state tax revenues or force state actions that would undermine the effectiveness of federal efforts.

We look forward to working with you to enact the appropriate stimulus program.

Source: Letter from 37 governors to House & Senate Leadership NGA-0801TX on Jan 28, 2008

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Tax Reform: Charlie Crist on other issues:
FL Gubernatorial:
Alexander Snitker
Rick Scott
FL Senatorial:
Bill Nelson

Newly-elected Democrats taking office Jan.2015:
AZ-7: Rep.-Elect Ruben Gallego
CA-11:Rep.-Elect Mark DeSaulnier
CA-31:Rep.-Elect Pete Aguilar(R⇒D)
CA-33:Rep.-Elect Ted Lieu
CA-35:Rep.-Elect Norma Torres
FL-2: Rep.-Elect Gwen Graham(R⇒D)
HI-1: Rep.-Elect Mark Takai
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MI-12:Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell
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NE-2: Rep.-Elect Brad Ashford(R⇒D)
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NY-4: Rep.-Elect Kathleen Rice
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Seated in special elections 2013-2014:
AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
FL-13:David Jolly(R)
FL-19:Curt Clawson(R)
IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
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NC-12:Alma Adams(D)
NJ-1: Donald Norcross(D)
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Newly-elected Republicans taking office Jan.2015:
AR-2: Rep.-Elect French Hill
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CA-45:Rep.-Elect Mimi Walters
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NY-21:Rep.-Elect Elise Stefanik(D⇒R)
NY-24:Rep.-Elect John Katko
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WA-4: Rep.-Elect Dan Newhouse
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Page last updated: Jun 23, 2016