TALLAHASSEE, FLA. -- Florida's sales tax on goods jumps to 6 percent today, one of the highest rates in the nation, because of a hike lawmakers enacted after repealing an unpopular services tax.
The 1-cent increase has sent politicians running for cover.
"It wasn't my penny. So you'll have to find out who advocated it," Gov. Bob Martinez (R) said last week, who signed the hike in December after it was passed by the Democratic-dominated Legislature.
But Democratic House Speaker Jon Mills, who battled to save the 6-month-old services tax as a recession-resistant way to help pay for the state's growth, said Martinez would have to share the blame.
The Legislature repealed the unpopular 5 percent tax on services such as lawyers' fees, yard service and piano tuning, effective Jan. 1.
Compared to the tax on hundreds of professional and domestic services, which advocates said would target upper income groups, today's sales tax hike will draw more revenues from Florida's middle- and low-income residents.
The hike is expected to raise about $1.2 billion over the next fiscal year, about the same as the services tax would have generated.
The sales tax will be even higher, 7 percent, in seven counties where voters raised the local rate.