A Republican Senator in Florida Proposes Property-Tax Breaks for Teachers, First Responders and Members of the Military

Toby Hazlewood

Is it fair that some receive help based on their job?

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Republican Senator Jason Brodeur of Sanford, FL is backing two separate bills that would offer property-tax exemptions to a select group of Floridians - including teachers, first-responders and members of the US military.

The legislation, being progressed under SJR 1746 and SB 1748 would award these individuals higher homestead property-tax exemptions. This would reduce their taxes associated with the value of their homes, as the property market in Florida continues to surge.

Estimates suggest that property prices in the state may have increased by as much as 48% in 2021.

Speaking on the proposals, Senator Brodeur had this to say:

“This will be a big, big impact for those that were really our first responders, and those that we have seen have such a great impact in our communities. This is also an attempt to help make housing more affordable for those folks.”

Are the proposals fair?

The proposals seem like a good way of benefiting essential workers who might otherwise struggle with tax bills due to their relatively low incomes. But concerns have been raised regarding the proposals - are they fair or financially viable?

First there's the tax revenue that the state will forego as a result of the breaks, which could amount to an estimated $80 million. This shortfall might need to be raised from increasing other state taxes (on businesses for example).

A further concern raised by a lobbyist for the Florida Association of Counties - Edward Labrador - is that while those who receive the tax-breaks may be worthy recipients, they aren't the only citizens who need help:

“You’re making a choice and saying (those not getting the exemptions) are not deserving, only these people are deserving. And you know what? I don’t know how you feel about that, but that doesn’t seem very fair to me.”

How much help do teachers need?

The 2022 legislative season is considering a number of measures already that affect teachers and school principals - the so-called 'Freedom First Budget' includes a provision for $1,000 bonuses for these Floridians for the second year in a row. There's also a proposal to increase the starting salary of teachers to $47,500.

Few would dispute that the state's educators deserve to be well-paid and valued, but is it right that so many measures are focused on a relatively small group of citizens?

Not all proposals are quite so popular amongst teachers though. They would also be affected significantly if a proposal being sponsored by Republican Bob Rommel is approved.

Rommel is in favor of installing video and audio surveillance in Florida's schools as a means of supposedly monitoring pupil behavior. It's also suspected that the cameras would be used to monitor teachers to ensure they're not teaching critical race theory - something that Governor DeSantis is trying to outlaw.

Offering tax-breaks to teachers (amongst other professions), may just be a politically driven effort to win favor with them?

Time will tell if the measures are approved or not.

What do you think about teachers and other Floridians being singled out for tax-breaks based on their choice of job? Do you believe that it's fair to offer such benefits to them, but not to others in low-income employment? Let me know in the comments section below.

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