Victor Crist and Todd Marks claim their opponents support an $18B tax hike; they don’t

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Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist and candidate Todd Marks sent out a dual-funded campaign mailer this week claiming Crist’s challenger, Mariella Smith, and Marks’ opponent, Kimberly Overman, support an $18 billion tax hike.

Except there’s no factual support for that claim.

“It’s a complete lie,” Smith said of the claim. “I just don’t know how they sleep at night.”

Overman said she has no idea where Marks and Crist got that number.

Marks and Crist did not respond to requests for comment and their campaigns did not clarify where they got that information, but the mailer cites the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida’s website.

There is no reference to an $18 billion tax hike on that site.

The only explanation for the claim is an exaggerated figure relating to Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2, which would raise Hillsborough County sales tax 1 percent to fund transportation and transit improvements countywide.

That tax would raise $9 billion over its 30-year life, if approved. However, the conservative website Sunshine State News offers several estimates for the tax ranging anywhere from $15-$18 billion.

Even if the tax estimate were accurate, Smith said she has not taken a stance on the All For Transportation sales tax initiative.

“These are matters for the voters to decide,” she said.

Overman supports the transportation tax.

The Halloween-themed mailer describes Overman as “kooky” and Smith as “mudslinging” and cautions voters that this Halloween they should be very afraid of the two.

It also makes several other dubious claims including that the two oppose deputies in public schools, support pay raises for politicians and oppose term limits.

Smith has not made direct statements on any of those claims and the mailer offers no citation for the allegations.

Smith said her opponent, Crist, is projecting his own track record onto her.

“I want to strengthen term limits to prevent career politicians like Victor Crist from playing the musical chairs game he’s playing,” Smith said.

Crist has been a Hillsborough County Commissioner since 2010. Commissioners are limited to two four-year terms, but a loophole allows them to “seat swap” between single member and countywide seats. Crist is term-limited out of his current District 2 single-member district in north Hillsborough and is now running for the countywide District 5 seat.

Overman said she believes there should be term limits, but doesn’t mind commissioners being able to serve their full two-terms in both a single member and countywide district, but “if you can’t get it done in 16 years, you need to leave.”

“Sometimes issues, especially transportation, take a good decade to see through and as commissioners, we should be able to get that done,” Overman said.

On pay raises for politicians, both Smith and Overman said they are opposed.

Many Democrats in Florida have called for pay raises for state lawmakers who are paid for part-time work rather than a full-time living wage salary. The claim there is that paying less than $30,000 a year for state elected office discourages working-class Floridians from running for office and instead leaves those seats open for independently wealthy residents who can afford to take the financial risk.

However, that’s something on which Smith and Overman said they’ve never taken a position.

Smith also said she does believe deputies should be in Hillsborough Schools to keep students safe, but contends the allegation is baseless because she’s running for Hillsborough County Commission, not the school board.

“There’s nothing in the purview of my campaign that applies to whether or not we have deputies in school,” she said.  

Overman said there are already school resource officers in middle and high schools, but thinks alternative school safety measures should be considered for elementary school.

“I guess you could say I prefer we have various different safety measures in place so we’re not scaring our kids. In some of our communities, a person with a gun might be someone who would shoot them,” Overman said.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


4 comments

  • Jim Davison DO

    October 23, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Janelle,
    The MPO’s own number for revenue raised from a 1% sales tax over 22 years is “at least”
    $9 billion(Hillsborough county MPO 2040 LRTP). The 30 year variations $15-18 billion over 30 years depends on the AGR you use 3.8% or 4% and whether you use the county estimate of the 2019 sales tax revenue base or the states. No one except you and AFT say the 30 year total revenue is $9 billion. In fact 30 x $280= $8.4 billion. Do you really think you can lie like that and get away with it. How do you sleep? I bet very well.

  • Rick Fernandez

    October 23, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Janelle: thanks for addressing the Crist/Marks mail piece. A knuckle dragger effort to be sure. Crist dishonors his office. Does Marks even have a campaign beyond his tea party support (enter Davidson)?

    • Jerry Lane

      October 23, 2018 at 11:15 pm

      Rick Fernandez is another leader with the same group as Kimberly Overman who wants to tear down 10 miles of I-275. Fernandez is reduced to name calling & he calls himself a lawyer.

  • Jerry Lane

    October 23, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    The transit tax hike is a $16-18 Billion tax hike over 30 years using the same growth rate that the MPO used in their 2040 20 year long range plan – the plan that All for Transportation states their massive tax hike is funds. Kimberly Overman supports the unnecessary 14% sales tax increase. She is also a leader with a group who wants to tear down 10 miles of I-275 from downtown to Bearss Avenue & replace the interstate with a street level boulevard with a train. I-275 carries 200K people a day and is a major evacuation route in Tampa Bay. Tearing down interstates critical to Tampa Bay probably is either “kooky” or absurd to most people in Tampa Bay.

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