Manatee proposed sales tax subject of controversy - WFLA News Channel 8

Manatee proposed sales tax subject of controversy

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At first glance, a proposed half-cent sales tax hike in Manatee County has very little to do with abortion.

But a number of organizations say one group is trying to link the two issues, so that voters will reject the tax hike proposal in a special election June 18.

They gathered for a rally at the Old Manatee Courthouse at 10:30 Friday to explain their concerns about the "wild" abortion claims by the anti-tax group.

"They have resorted to fearmongering," said Suzanne Dickey from the Manatee League of Women Voters. "Never mind the facts, let's see if we can't stir up a little fear among the voters."

Eric Robinson chairs three different political action committees that oppose the sales tax hike. Robinson said the claim made by one of those groups that government-funded abortions could result from the referendum is true.

"They're having rallies and protests about it," said Robinson. "There's got to be something to it."

Robinson said he is just an accountant who's been hired to form political opposition groups to the measure but wouldn't identify the people who are funding it.  He said their names appear in a campaign finance report that was mailed to the Supervisor of Elections late Thursday.

Supporters of the half-penny sales tax say they suspect land developers are funding the opposition's political because they'd rather see money spent on roads than healthcare.

Robinson said he doesn't know of any developers involved in his effort but did suggest he was getting support from members of the Tea Party who oppose any new tax.

At Friday's rally one woman who said subsidized healthcare saved her life worried that the allegations of abortion funding will cloud voter's minds before Tuesday's special election.

"I think it is unfortunate that people would say something that is untrue," said Kathy Svehlak. "However, when it comes to politics we do see this quite often."


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