Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Top News App

PolitiFact Florida: Scott says state revenues are growing even after 50 tax cuts

Gov. Rick Scott's $1 billion tax-cut request is giving the Florida Legislature plenty to chew on, especially after state economists warned that revenues won't be as high as once thought.

Scott wants a range of cuts, including a reduction in the sales tax on commercial rents and a $770 million break for manufacturers and retailers by getting rid of their corporate income tax. Despite concerns over how the size of his request will affect the budget, Scott was confident the math makes it an easy decision for lawmakers.

"We have plenty of money to be able to do tax cuts," Scott said Jan. 20, after state economists warned tax revenues would be less than previously estimated. "Let's look at history. We've cut taxes 50 times, and look what has happened to our revenues. They've grown."

Scott has used this line repeatedly in recent weeks. We wondered whether revenues have continued to grow even as Tallahassee has passed tax changes over recent years.

Scott's line about 50 tax cuts is a talking point that just keeps on growing. We have rated the claims about him making 24 tax cuts, 40 tax cuts and more than 40 tax cuts, Half True, because Scott counted many small tax changes for specific industries as overall tax cuts.

What's new this time around, in a nutshell, are 16 provisions passed in 2015, most of which were part of a $429 million tax-cut package. The full list is largely comprised of esoteric tax credits (mostly for businesses), changes in unemployment compensation and sales tax holidays. There also was a rate reduction on the Communications Services Tax on cellphone and cable service that amounts to about $21 per $100 on a bill and a $60,000 cap on taxes for boat repairs.

Several of those may help businesses but really don't often do much for everyday Floridians, especially if they needed to collect unemployment. Many times, local governments may raise taxes to make up for their own lost revenue.

In short, it's arguable whether all of those qualify as tax cuts, but they did have an impact on how many tax dollars the state brought in. Economists told us, however, that while you can project how much year-over-year revenues may be changed from cuts, it's tough to attribute any concrete economic growth to those changes.

Because of overall economic growth, general tax revenues have been rising since Scott became governor as the state was climbing out of the Great Recession, when those revenues had dipped.

During Scott's first full fiscal year in 2011-12, general revenue clocked in at $23.6 billion, growing at a 4.7 percent rate. The climb escalated in the ensuing years and stood at $28.4 billion for 2015-16. This year's estimated growth rate, however, is down to 2.1 percent.

State economist Amy Baker noted that even with Florida's economy growing, that growth rate is currently below the state's historical average, and the cumulative effects of prior tax changes are eating into revenues more than expected.

It's clear revenues have gone up even as Scott's tax changes have been implemented, but experts said it's tough to directly link them. They said there are three main reasons Florida's revenues have grown during the nationwide recovery: Population growth, rising property values and overall inflation.

More than 1 million people have moved to Florida since 2010, property values are recovering from the housing bust, and inflation makes tax collections go up as costs go up.

Norton Francis, senior research associate with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said that despite being the third-largest state, the growth rate for Florida's tax revenues has started to lag behind the national average.

"What you need to look at is, are (tax revenues) growing more than they used to?" Norton asked. "It could be that it's come back as a whole, but it's hard to pin that to a tax cut."

Scott has a debatable definition of tax cuts, but the state's tax revenues have increased since he took office. Economists told us it would be difficult to attribute growth specifically to tax changes. We rate the statement Mostly True.

Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com/florida. Contact Joshua Gillin at [email protected] Follow @jpgillin.

Comments
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanIt’s been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But he’s about to make up for lost time. On Saturday he’ll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Updated: 13 minutes ago

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.TAMPA’S BERKELEY PREP GRADS LEAD REVOLT AGAINST ONE OF THEIR OWN: KIRSTJEN NIELSENWhen Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen went on national television Monday and dismissed criticism o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

FILIPINO FOOD: WELCOME CHISMISHave you been to the Heights Public Market at the 73,000-square-foot Armature Works yet? It’s the buzzy food market in Tampa Heights with more than a dozen vendors offering up everything from rolled ice cream to Cuban sa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Tyler Henry: Hollywood MediumTyler Henry, the so-called Hollywood Medium who stars in an eponymous E! hit show, is coming to town with a live show called "Life Lessons I Have Learned From the Departed." The soft-spoken 22-year-old has done readings f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

SENDUP: MUSICAL OF MUSICALSFive composers, a talented cast, choreography by Cheryl Lee and music directed by Michael Raabe — that’s Freefall Theatre’s recipe for a laugh-filled, season-ending summer musical, appropriately titled The Musical of Musica...
Updated: 1 hour ago
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ and heist caper ‘American Animals’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ and heist caper ‘American Animals’

OPENING FRIDAY:JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOMDinosaurs: Keep them alive or kill them off? It’s a question that haunts the human characters in between fireball-dodging cardio workouts in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the spectacularly ho-hum new ent...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Artists’ talks and Sharon Norwood’s definition of beauty

Artists’ talks and Sharon Norwood’s definition of beauty

MARK MAKING: DEFINING BEAUTYBlack, squiggly lines are at the center of multidisciplinary artist Sharon Norwood’s works, an exhibition of which titled "Defining Beauty" opens at Tempus Projects on Saturday. Norwood’s use of the line in a variety of me...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

Tampa Bay’s two largest counties showed anemic home sales in May as prices continued to rise due to a tight supply.In Pinellas, sales of single-family home plunged nearly 12 percent from the previous May, the second-worst showing in a year. Prices, t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

SAFETY HARBOR — Mayor Joe Ayoub put forth a resolution Monday evening asking the City Commission to condemn cyberbullying.The result? The meeting devolved into shouting and whispering from the crowd and people storming out of chambers.The mayor’s res...
Updated: 2 hours ago