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Hernando Leaders Reflect After Failure of

Penny Sales Tax for Schools, Government


By Dan DeWitt
and Barbara Behrendt
Tampa Bay Times
Nov. 8th, 2014

Review by Delany Callahan

Delany Callahan
Intro to Teaching
Nov. 12, 2014
Abstract: This article, published by the Tampa Bay Times, reviews the results of the
Nov. 4th voting in Hernando County regarding the Penny Tax. It quotes citizens who
voted against the Penny Tax and gives their reasoning. It describes the
repercussions of the failure of the proposal.
The Penny Tax in Hernando County was a proposal to increase the half-cent
tax on the dollar for schools and add areas that these funds would be spent. It
included road construction projects, an economic development fund, maintenance
on school buildings, and a central $62 million dollars collected throughout the next
ten years to purchase electronic tablets. The tablets are a mandated technological
advancement in Florida schools. Unfortunately, more than 7,000 Hernando residents
voted no to the proposal. This is in sharp contrast to five other purely educational
proposals that passed in other Florida counties to raise extra funds. The authors of
this article hypothesize that peoples rejection of the proposal was due to disinterest
in more taxes and ignorance regarding the requirement of technology in education.
However, the road construction and economic fund may have also contributed.
Proponents of the tax are very disappointed and worried because the half-cent tax is
no longer in place. Educational funding in this district will face an immense
challenge if an emergency poll does not take place to reinstate the previous tax or
propose an alternative. Additionally, the mandate to transition over to digital media
will heavily burden the already stretched budget.
This information addresses several important issues: the importance of
voting, how groups can raise funds through legislation, peoples willingness to
invest in their city, the states requirement to convert to digital media, and the cost
of such conversion. It is frightening to think of the deficit our school district will
experience due to the failure of this proposal. The discontinuation of the half-cent
tax will leave budget gaps, but also there is this hugely expensive requirement from
the state to begin ridding schools of paper textbooks next school year. The Penny
Tax was the school boards solution to funding this monumental change. How else
they are to meet the requirement is unknown. Taking from other areas of spending

seems the only option unless they hold emergency voting for a proposal that people
will hopefully approve. This new tax may be a penny tax or a reinstitution of the
half-cent tax, but it should probably exclude other city costs. Though it is a shame
that thousands of people do not want to invest in developing Hernando County,
meeting the states educational mandates is what the tax should ensure.
As a young adult, I have yet to vote for a president or in any local elections. I
chose not to this year, mostly out of fear (and maybe a tiny bit of laziness). I was
afraid I would make the wrong decisions. What if I vote wrong because my
informed decision really wasnt that informed? Also, most young people have a
very negative perception and distrust of politics. We see it as a game that other
people play for money and we rarely ever see the effects of these proposals or bills
one way or another. After reading this information regarding the failure of the Penny
Tax, however, I feel empowered and stirred to be involved. Those who voted against
it are truly affecting the future of our education system and halting advancement in
the county. Industrial growth and cutting edge schools are crucial to the young lives
in Hernando County. These people are hindering our schools from being compliant
with state legislation and probably forcing more cutbacks in our district. This lessens
the quality of education and potentially hurts us economically if teachers and staff
have to be laid off. I will vote next year and make sure to research and support
proposals that I have enough background in to make an informed decision.
Education is an area I have a background and interest in and I should have done my
part to support the School Board.