In 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis – despite $8 billion from the Obama stimulus – the Florida legislature and Governor Charlie Crist approved a number of misguided tax hikes. These included fees that were really revenue-raising taxes.

Among the yes votes were 21 Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers who broke their commitments to voters to oppose and vote against any tax increase.

Current candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, and then state representative, Baxter Troutman was one of them. Troutman broke his promise to Florida taxpayers and his constituents to protect them from tax hikes.

Three other candidates are in the Agriculture Commissioner race: Denise Grimsley, Matt Caldwell, and Mike McCalister.

Grimsley did vote for the 2009 tax and fee hikes but had not signed the pledge. Grimsley has also been a reliable vote in favor of tax cuts, as a representative and senator, since Rick Scott became Governor.

Caldwell, who signed the pledge in 2010, has lived up to his promise to protect Florida taxpayers while serving in the Florida House.

Under Scott, the legislature (with Caldwell and Grimsley) has approved a number of tax cuts, helping to spark Florida’s surging economy.

Some of the concerning tax and fee hikes Troutman approved to break his pledge:

  • Vehicle Service Fee Hikes – SB 1778 (2009): The bill increased various driver fees. For example, initial registration fees more than doubled from $100 to $225, and annual fees bumped 35%. New and renewed drivers licenses increased to $48 from $27 and $20 respectively.
  • Business Tax – SB 810 (2009): The bill hiked the unemployment compensation tax on businesses by $1,500 a year for five years.
  • Court Fee Hike – SB 1718 (2009): The bill established graduated court fees and raised rates to bring in nearly $200 million.
  • Cigarette Tax Increase – SB 1840 (2009): The law boosted the cigarette tax from $0.34 to $1 per pack.
  • FWCC Fee Increases – HB 1423 (2009): Raised fees on hunting and fishing licenses, as well as further increasing certain vehicle registration fees.