Mannix About Manatee: Will 'tax' word get usual reaction?

June 16, 2013 

Property tax relief.

Double taxation.

New jobs.

A shell game.

Health care for the poor.

It'll pay for abortions.

Abortions?

Egad.

Guess some people didn't think this campaign had gotten heated up enough over the past few weeks.

So let's pour a little more gasoline on the fire.

What in blue blazes does abortion have to do with Tuesday's half-cent sales tax referendum?

Manatee County can be justifiably criticized on enough matters when it comes to spending our tax money, but indirectly funding abortions?

Please.

Anyway, whether this referendum passes on its merits is a toss up.

If I were a betting man, I'd have to say no.

Why?

One word: tax.

Mention it in any context and many people are viscerally opposed. Especially in a community as conservative as ours.

Me?

I get the things the health care supporters are trying to accomplish.

• Raise millions sufficient to pay for health care for the poor and indigent.

• Spread the cost around to include the tourist dollar.

• Enable a corresponding reduction in property taxes.

I also get the support

for tax exemptions to generate jobs, too.

My fear, however, is that voters intent on shooting down the first referendum will shoot down the second as well.

At a Manatee Chamber of Commerce function recognizing our community's health care leaders last April, one chamber official framed the argument for the health care referendum thusly:

The Florida Legislature, specifically the House of Representatives, wasn't going to budge on an expansion of Medicaid, no matter that's $51 billion of Floridians' tax money we'd be getting back.

As for Obamacare? Washington keeps pushing it back year after year as its costs double and figures to be more of a burden than a benefit.

That leaves us with this referendum, the official said.

"We have to help ourselves in Manatee County, and we cannot wait for somebody else to do it," said Chamber President Bob Bartz.

There are a lot of people on board with that, willing to take on the challenge at the ballot box.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people thinking to themselves, "What do you mean, 'We?'"

We'll find out how many Tuesday night.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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