In tax-cutting year, lobbying pays off big for business
TALLAHASSEE -- William Ibarra was pleasantly surprised to learn that the taxes he pays at his small Miami charter flight company would be slashed by thousands of dollars, after the Legislature last week passed a slew of business tax cuts.
Frank Stronach, a billionaire horse breeder whose Gulfstream Park racino has a team of nine lobbyists in Tallahassee, could save millions. He is likely to benefit from corporate tax cuts for his businesses and a $1.2 million tax break carved out specifically for a slaughterhouse he is building near Ocala.
From shop owners, who know little about Tallahassee politics, to the powerful business lobby that thought up many of carefully crafted tax breaks, the Legislature this year proved a friendly place.
The total package of business tax relief approved during the 60-day legislative session that ended Friday totaled about $750 million this year, and more than $2.5 billion over the next three years.
Everyday consumers received a much smaller package of direct tax relief — another back-to-school tax holiday, small homestead exemptions and no tax increases. The Legislature was also less ambitious in providing direct economic relief for struggling homeowners, and delivered bone-deep cuts to several programs.
Backed by businessman-turned-governor Rick Scott, the business-friendly tax plan has been touted as a surefire way to bring Florida’s wounded economy back to life.
“If we put Florida companies in the position where we can outcompete companies in any other state, in any other country, what happens?” Scott asked during his State of the State speech in January. “Jobs are going to grow like crazy.”