State Rep. Darryl Rouson this morning tries to link the controversy over cuts in state funding to the University of South Florida to efforts to allow Florida to collect sales taxes on online transactions that originate in the state.Here a statement that Rouson, D-St. Petersburg,, whose district includes part of Manatee County, issued this morning:
“Now is the time to step back, take a breath, and ask how we got into this situation. ... Sometimes, when you’re painfully sensitive to declining dollars yet still presented with critical needs, it’s hard to remember when the cupboards were full. The cuts to the areas of the budget and specifically to the University of South Florida are Draconian. It’s crucial to remember that we don’t live in a vacuum of cuts. Rather, we have an available safety net of laws designed to create revenues for the entirety of our state, including the University System. No one university need be the ultimate loser.
“The reality is we are going to have to make cuts. We are not going to necessarily gain allies by making the cuts equal across the board. As we cut, we must use existing opportunities, such as the Internet sales tax and the remittance of the collected sales tax proceeds from online travel companies. In Florida Trend business magazine this morning, I found a growing clamor for enforcing the Internet sales tax as I have been advocating for years. Enforcement alone would substantially plug the gap in the state budget and eliminate all of our cuts at USF. So instead of shifting our pain to others, the Bull Nation should tell our state legislators that ‘we want to collect taxes that are already on the books and support you for doing so.”