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Fla. Gov. Says He Goofed, Asks Repeal of Tax

September 18, 1987|Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a public reversal, Gov. Bob Martinez today called for repeal of Florida's unpopular services tax, saying he had made a mistake that cost him the confidence of the people of Florida.

Martinez, who helped push the measure through the state Legislature this year, said he had made a mistake by backing the levy before tackling budget reform.

The Republican governor's popularity plummeted in polls after he and the Democratic-controlled Legislature pushed the billion-dollar services tax into law.

The 5% sales tax on services such as advertising, professional fees, lawn maintenance and pest control was expected to raise about $745 million this year and $1.2 billion in the second year.

'Cart Before Horse'

"I put the cart before the horse and when I did, I made a mistake," said Martinez. "That mistake has cost me the confidence of the people of Florida. More importantly, it has severely da1835100005government."

The public backlash prompted the governor to call the Legislature into special session for three days beginning Monday to revise the tax, repeal it or put the question to voters in a March 8 referendum.

The governor blames the advertising industry's campaign against the tax for fomenting public dissatisfaction but said public confidence is more important than any tax or program.

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