Raise taxes? What five Democrats running for Florida governor said in debate

Five Democrats running for Florida governor prepare for a Thursday night debate at WPBF Channel 25 in Palm Beach Gardens. From left: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene, Winter Park businessman Chris King, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The five Democrats vying for the party’s nomination for governor favor more spending on education and other programs. Does that mean they’ll support tax increases to pay for them?

Here’s what they said Thursday night during a debate in Palm Beach Gardens that aired on WPBF Channel 25 and other stations across the state:

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum: “I will not raise taxes on everyday Floridians…Regular, everyday people are paying their fair share. Corporations, however, the largest most wealthiest corporations in this state, only 3 percent of companies, pay the corporate income tax in this state. And in Florida the corporate income tax is less than that of Georgia and Alabama. Florida cannot be a cheap date and still be the state that is deserving of our children. I believe that corporations have to pay their fair share.”

(Florida’s 5.5 percent corporate income tax is expected to raise about $2.2 billion this year; the state’s general sales tax, by comparison, is expected to raise about $25 billion.)

• Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene:  “We don’t have to raise taxes in Florida. It’s just a question of priorities…It’s very easy. We just change our priorities and start spending more money on the things that are important to us and we’ll get everything done. Get rid of the corporate welfare checks that Rick Scott‘s been giving out.”

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham: “On Nov. 7, I’m going to pull together a team of the smartest and best people to evaluate and do a full audit of our budget. Where are we spending our money? Is it justified? Are we spending it in the best interest of Floridians? We’re going to find out if there’s a lot of resources that the state of Florida is using that are not helping Floridians. My commitment is to redirect those resources and I will be working hard every day to make sure we have a positive impact on your life.”

Winter Park businessman Chris King: “I am going to demonstrate the integrity that we can pay for the big ideas from the revenues of Florida without adding to our tax burden.”

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine: “I am not a tax-and-spend Democrat. I am an invest-and-build Democrat and I believe in investing in Floridians. Under no circumstances would I raise taxes in Florida. With an $89 billion budget in Florida and so many opportunities to derive revenue and make corporations actually pay the 5-1/2 percent tax, we do not need to raise taxes in Florida. As a matter of fact, Florida being a low-tax state is one of our great competitive advantages — and advantage that I, under no circumstances would I like to see go away.”