Governor DeSantis urges caution over Duval County school tax hike


Duval County policymakers are advocating for increased mileage rates to improve public schools, but the governor. Ron DeSantis urged caution Monday in Orange Park.

Emphasizing that he was unaware of the specifics of Duval County’s proposal, the Republican governor pointed to discrepancies between what is promised and what is delivered when tax hikes are typically offered.

“I’ll let them decide,” DeSantis told a Fleming Island reporter, where he pointed to $800 million more in teacher salary in the next state budget.

“I don’t know what’s on offer or not on offer, but I’ve seen over the years where people say they’re going to fix these things, what people would like to see, and then it ends, you know, the the money is wasted, and then they come back and ask for more tax increases, and that’s bad,” DeSantis said.

“So I would say to voters: be very careful when people broadcast this.”

Asked about specific examples, DeSantis replied “you see it all the time,” but didn’t provide a detailed example.

“Just be careful of that,” he added.

On March 1, the Duval County School Board voted 6 to 1 in favor of a one-millie rate increase. This is expected to add up to $82 million more per year in recurring funding.

The district has already primed the pump, selling a half-cent sales tax increase for capital needs over the next decade, a measure that was passed by referendum in 2020.

This new tax hike would also be subject to voter approval, pending the city council fulfilling its ministerial duty of putting the issue on a ballot.

Other school mileage pushes are occurring elsewhere in Florida, such as Pasco County. And so far they have been successful in predominantly blue counties. Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Pinellas counties all passed mile hikes.

Although DeSantis did not openly denounce tax hike offers like this in Northeast Florida on Monday, he clearly waved the flag of caution, potentially sending a signal to Republicans courting his favor before the 2022 and 2023 elections.

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