Gov. Rick Scott kicked off a post-legislative session tour in Tampa on Wednesday by touting $10 billion in tax cuts since he became governor and downplaying the National Rifle Association’s lawsuit against the state over a gun bill he signed into law this week.
Scott chose Cox Fire Protection, a small business in Tampa that installs and manufactures fire equipment, as the stage for the news conference, which had the feel of a campaign event. Scott is considering a run for the U.S. Senate to challenge Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
After highlighting more than $550 million in tax reductions passed by lawmakers that amounted to a total of $10 billion in cuts during his span as Florida governor since 2011, Scott shifted attention to Washington D.C., 900 miles to the northeast.
“D.C., they don’t get anything done,” Scott said. “Everything up there always ends up in politics, so nothing happens.”
Scott contrasted the stalemate in Washington to the progress Florida has made in three weeks since the Parkland shooting.
“So in Florida in three weeks from Parkland happening,” he said, “we passed historic legislation, and two days later I was able to sign it.”
Asked by a reporter about the NRA’s lawsuit, Scott said nothing about the challenge from a group that has strongly supported his political career. Instead, he kept his response general, saying “I’m going to fight for this legislation, I thinkit’s going to do what I believe in, it’s going to increase school safety.”
Scott highlighted other issues from the session, including the hurricane preparation sales tax holiday, as well as reductions in the tax on agricultural supplies and commercial leases.
“We are the only state that has a tax on commercial leases,” Scott said. “For the second year in a row we saw a reduction in this business tax, and we need to continue to do that and eventually hopefully eliminate that tax because it’s unfair to all business but dramatically impacts our small businesses.”
Scott endorsed a constitutional amendment, that will appear on the November ballot, which would prevent future tax increases after he leaves office. If the amendment passes, any proposed tax increase would require a two-thirds majority in the legislature to become law.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said the cuts make Florida more appealing.
“Cutting taxes, that’s the American way,” Murman said. “People come here to Florida because of the great quality of life, and they come here because of low taxes.”
Scott also spoke on student walkouts across the state in response to the Parkland shooting last month, saying he doesn’t blame the children for wanting to be safe in school.
“I like the fact that people are active politically,” Scott said. “You can get bills passed if you’re active.”