Tax cut plan will spur jobs, Gov. Scott tells Senate panel
Florida Gov. Rick Scott made a rare public appearance at a state senate committee on Monday to continue a full court press to win approval from the Legislature for a $1 billion tax cut plan that has so far received a lukewarm reception.
Scott told the Senate Finance and Tax Committee that although the state has cut taxes frequently since he was elected, more needs to be done to compete against other states to lure new businesses and diversify Florida’s economy.
“If we keep reducing our taxes we make it very difficult for anybody to compete,” Scott said, referencing Texas specifically.
Scott’s tax plan is heavily directed at businesses. He wants to eliminate all corporate income taxes charged to manufacturers and retail companies, permanently cut sales taxes on manufacturing equipment and gradually reduce the states sales taxes charged on commercial rents.
“If we do these things we’re going to make it so difficult for anybody to be headquartered and do their business any place else,” Scott told the Senate Finance and Tax Committee.
Pressed by Democratic legislators as to why he’s primarily focused on businesses for tax cuts instead of cutting property taxes for middle class families, Scott said it comes down to jobs.
“The most important thing you can do is make sure they can get a job,” Scott said. “I think these are going to help to continue to grow our economy; help get people jobs.”
Governors rarely testify in person at legislative committee meetings and Scott has long been criticized for not reaching out to legislators enough. After the meeting, Scott told reporters he made the in-person plea because the issue is critical to him.
It is the second time in as many months that Scott has made a personal pitch for his tax cuts. Last month, Scott made a similar presentation at the House Finance and Tax Committee.
Scott’s appearances are just the latest part of his strategy to win support from the Legislature. Monday was the scheduled start date of new statewide television commercials touting his tax plan. Those ads, estimated at more than $1 million, are paid for through a political committee Scott runs called Let’s Get To Work.
On Wednesday, the day after Scott delivers his annual State of the State Address, Scott will hit the road for a 9-city, statewide bus tour designed to promote his business recruitment agenda.
While the Republican-dominated Legislature has been supportive of tax cuts in the past, some key leaders have questioned whether the state can afford such a large tax cut with so many other priorities needing funding.
Last year, Scott requested $700 million in tax cuts, but ended up with just about $400 million.
Scott said on Monday that he has no doubt the state can afford the new tax cuts because of increasing state revenues because of the state’s growing economy.
“We have the money to do it,” Scott told reporters.