After flyer flap, Audrey Gibson comes out against Jax pension tax

Audrey Gibson

IMG_1777State Sen. Audrey Gibson voted to authorize Jacksonville to have a ballot referendum to extend the current half-cent tax devoted to infrastructure past its 2030 sunset date to address the unfunded liability.

She even co-introduced the bill.

But that’s the last vote she’ll cast for the measure.

On Monday night, Gibson saw her name on the “Yes! for Jax” flyer as an endorser and then took to Facebook to correct the record.

“Whomever used my name on this flyer is spreading untruths. The Legislative vote was to send the issue to Duval County to allow local constituents to decide for themselves if they wanted to tax themselves. That is not an endorsement,” writes Gibson, “it’s called the state not overstepping local control.”

“I AM NOT voting for this tax, and I DO NOT endorse it,” Gibson wrote.

Brian Hughes, on behalf of the “Yes for Jacksonville” political committee, offered the following response.

“Without her leadership as a sponsor and her strong support in Tallahassee, Referendum 1 wouldn’t even be on the ballot. If that’s not support for the language she already voted for a couple of times, I hope she can understand the confusion. We appreciate the leadership she demonstrated in the Legislature to get the referendum passed.”

Gibson and the Duval Democrats will discuss this and more at an 11 a.m. presser in opposition to the pension tax referendum, which was pilloried Monday night in a brutal town hall meeting in Northwest Jacksonville.

At the very least, Gibson was on the fence before what she bills as a misrepresentation of her position.

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At a town hall in late June, Gibson explained the process used to get her to vote for the bill in Tallahassee while distancing herself from the outcome of the referendum.

“The mayor called me around Thanksgiving,” Gibson related.

The senator told him point blank she would “absolutely not support any legislation that wouldn’t go back to voters for approval.”

The timing of that conversation was interesting because the plan Curry presented to the Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee in January was contingent not on a voter referendum, but on a Council supermajority, which the Better Jacksonville Plan would have allowed.

Gibson then noted “two members not from Duval County carried the legislation,” which she “would not co-sponsor without a referendum.”

Distancing herself further from being tied to the outcome of the vote, Gibson said she was “not on the ‘selling the tax’ tour,” adding that her goal was to “make sure … the decision rests with you all.”

Then, unprompted, Gibson took aim at an argument outsiders would shoulder the burden of the tax.

“This idea that tourists will pay it,” said Gibson, “is not exactly the case. The people who live in the community will pay it.”

“It’s not just tourists. It’s lower income people and some middle class,” the senator added.

That didn’t sound like support in June. And now it sounds like rejection.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]



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