Petrogram - Winter 2009 - (Page 7)

President’s PERSPECTIVE Small Business Burden T Jim Smith I tend to spend more and more time on my soapbox, but having endured the single-worst state legislative session in recent memory, it’s time to vent. he greatest burden on small business is now the government. Not just the federal government, but state, county and city governments as well. With a slumping economy, all of you have reduced your spending, prioritized your needs and tightened your belts to get by. On the other hand, governments at all levels have chosen to place any economic burdens they face on the backs of small-business owners. It’s widely known that this countr y’s l a r g e s t e mploy e r i s sma l l bu si ne sse s. That means ever y monet a r y bu rden passed down to you ultimately reaches your employees. T hose employe e s are the fuel of the e c onom ic en g i ne that this countr y needs to get back on its feet. If they don’t have a job, or if their disposable income is reduced, then recovery moves further away. I know I’m “preaching to the choir” right now, because everyone reading this suffers from an acute case of common sense. I tend to spend more and more time on my soapbox, but having endured the single-worst state legislative session in recent memory, it’s time to vent. Florida retailers have a new $1 per pack cigarette tax increase. Even though the bill raising the tax was never heard or debated in the House, budget negotiators voted to include it in this year’s budget. Of 120 House members and 40 Senators, just 12 voted the increase in. Our governor vowed to veto any tax increase. So he signed the budget with the tax increase included and justified his action by saying it’s not a tax – it’s a user fee and a health issue. If their lips are moving yada, yada, yada. The legislature also stole all of the money in our petroleum contamination clean-up fund. Retailers fund the program by paying an import fee of 80 cents per barrel. Th at is the same fund that is supposed to be protecting state drinking water supplies. Th at was $209 million (the balance in the fund) gone in the blink of an eye. How did they decide to continue the program? They bonded it for $104 million, $10 million of which is immediately taken for debt service. Th at same $10-million-a-year debt will be paid from the fund for the next 15 years. Anyone with common sense would not borrow money for something they already had the money for and then saddle themselves with a debt one-and-one-half times the amount of useable money. The importance of this on Florida retailers is that they are facing a tank upgrade deadline of Dec. 31, 2009. When they go to replace their tanks, they now have the option of either paying out of pocket for any contamination, or they can do what our state environmental agency has suggested, which is to return any contaminated dirt back into the tank pit. The trouble with that is, in most cases, that action voids the tank warranty, plus it means you will have to excavate a second time in the future to get that contamination out of the ground. Retailers/small-business owners carry the burden of their cities, their counties, their states and their federal government decision-makers who refuse to do what’s right in exchange for their political futures. ❍ Petrogram | Winter 2009 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Petrogram - Winter 2009

Petrogram - Winter 2009
President’s Perspective
2010 FPMA Patron Members
Enviro Corner
Danger Ahead: Hometown Democracy
Out & About the Industry
Insurance Issues
Drop and Swap, Fishing and Dogs
Barrister’s Counsel
Index of Advertisers/

Petrogram - Winter 2009