Fee hikes hurt middle class

In the spring 2009 Legislative session, Florida lawmakers proposed a bill that increased the driving fees for Floridians among other tax and fee hikes. Driving fees include original and renewed driver licenses, annual vehicle registrations and license tag purchases.

On Sept. 1, the fee for a new driver license went from $27 to $48. The fee for a six-year renewal increased from $20 to $48. And the most drastic change went to the initial vehicle registration fee, which was previously $100 and is now a stiff $225.

Why are lawmakers charging Floridians extra money to drive? There is an $8 billion budget deficit and the extra revenue generated from these price hikes are expected to fill the hole. Why should Floridians have to pay extra for the government’s shortfall? With a failing economy, it is a fine time to increase a diminutive fee like getting a new driver license when an old one has expired.

This new fee increase once again proves that Republican legislators have no mercy for the middle class and working families in Florida. According to the State of Working Florida report done by researchers at Florida Atlantic University, Florida lost 255,000 jobs in 2008, or 3.2 percent of its work force, compared with the United States, which lost 0.4 percent of its employment. With all the job cuts, you would think there was already enough money to cover the budget’s gap.

Lawmakers back up their decision to increase the fees by stating that they haven’t rose in 20 years and that residents should be grateful that fees have not already increased. When Republican lawmakers get together to propose a budget their motto seems to be ‘make the rich richer, the poor poorer and the middle class work harder.’ Courtney Ralls for the editorial board.