Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Florida House omits centerpiece of Gov. Rick Scott's $1 billion tax cut plan

TALLAHASSEE — The centerpiece of Gov. Rick Scott's tax cut plan may have already been dealt a fatal blow as state legislators instead are considering a wider range of sales tax reductions on everything from guns to smartphones in an election year.

The House rolled out a tax cut proposal this week that has almost $1 billion in reductions like Scott has requested, but it omits the Republican governor's biggest idea: elimination of corporate income taxes on manufacturers and retail businesses. Scott has made that tax cut a central part of his push to diversify the state's economy. That tax cut alone would cost the state $384.9 million next year, and $770 million annually after that.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the chairman of the House Finance & Tax Committee, praised the governor's overall tax cut plan, but he said he was looking for cuts that would "hit Main Street a lot harder."

Under the initial plan Gaetz outlined, the House would have four different sales tax holidays, including:

• a 10-day reduction for back-to-school shopping this August;

• a reduction on the taxes for hunting and fishing gear, including firearms, ammunition and fishing poles for one day in August;

• a reduction to encourage people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving;

• and a cut in sales taxes on technology, including computers, tablets and cellphones.

Those cuts would amount to $116 million in sales tax reductions next year. The House plan also includes reductions in taxes on commercial leases and continues a sales tax exemption on manufacturing equipment — ideas championed by Scott. In full, the House tax cut plan deals with 33 different taxes and would cost the state a total of $989 million, according to the House budget staff.

The Senate has not rolled out its tax cut plan yet, but the chief budget writer Thursday called the idea of a $1 billion tax cut "ridiculous" in the current financial situation. Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said he is wary of long-term tax reductions that could put future Legislatures in a bind should the economy sink. Lee said such a big tax cut plan was "laughable" even before state economists earlier this month released a new revenue forecast that shows the Legislature would have $400 million less to spend than previously expected. A big piece of that forecast has been a drop in corporate income taxes — the very thing Scott wants to cut more.

Despite the downgraded revenue forecast, Scott last week said the state still can afford his corporate income tax cuts. The fact that corporate income taxes are already are on the decline "should make them easier to cut, then," he said.

But Lee said signs of a softening economy demands that legislators resist handing out tax cuts just to do a political victory lap in an election year.

"We need to take a very cautious approach to all of this," Lee said.

Contact Jeremy Wallace at [email protected] Follow @jeremyswallace.

Comments

Pasunion 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 XX

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Elections chief: Automatic recount unlikely in Alabama race

Elections chief: Automatic recount unlikely in Alabama race

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Still-uncounted ballots are unlikely to change the outcome of the U.S. Senate race in Alabama enough to spur an automatic recount, the state’s election chief said Wednesday as Democratic victor Doug Jones urged Republican Roy Moore...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Glowing all the way

Glowing all the way

GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES | Times Lucy Harris, 7, plays with "snowflakes" made of soap Wednesday before the start of the Boley Centers’ 35th annual Jingle Bell Run at Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg. Glow necklaces, glow face painting and 1,...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Pinellas sheriff disciplines deputies in arrest, but not for excessive force

Pinellas sheriff disciplines deputies in arrest, but not for excessive force

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has suspended two deputies after an internal investigation found they violated agency policies during the arrest of a 25-year-old man that turned violent.The sheriff handed down 15 days to Deputy Alexander Edge, who Gua...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Hillsborough state attorney announces stepped-up effort to disarm domestic abusers

Hillsborough state attorney announces stepped-up effort to disarm domestic abusers

TAMPA — Saying too many defendants accused of domestic violence still have guns, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren is trying a new effort to disarm them.Warren announced an initiative Wednesday that he said will fill in gaps in enforcing exis...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida Toys for Tots charity raffles off AR-15 rifle. Gun debate ensues.

Florida Toys for Tots charity raffles off AR-15 rifle. Gun debate ensues.

SPRING HILL — Hernando County Commission Vice Chair Steve Champion wanted to do something to help raise money for the annual Toys for Tots drive. So he donated the grand prize for the Nov. 18 raffle:It was an AR-15-style, semiautomatic rifle.That led...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thefts from cell towers interrupted service, deputies say

Thefts from cell towers interrupted service, deputies say

Lost cell signal recently? The culprit could be a 40-year-old Ruskin man who deputies said stole thousands of dollars worth of the equipment that powers cell towers. The theft interrupted cell tower signals on at least two occasions, deputies said, i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg police sergeant demoted after throwing bullet at fellow officer

St. Petersburg police sergeant demoted after throwing bullet at fellow officer

ST. PETERSBURG — A long-tenured St. Petersburg police sergeant and executive vice president of the local police union is being demoted to the rank of officer after he threw a bullet at another sergeant while on duty, the department said Wednesday.Jam...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg police arrest Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir, several others, in death of 22-year-old woman found in alley

St. Petersburg police arrest Bob’s Carpet and Flooring heir, several others, in death of 22-year-old woman found in alley

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested several people, including a son of a prominent flooring store chain’s late founder, as part of an investigation into the death of a 22-year-old woman whose body was found in an alley last year.The woman, Taylor M...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lofty postseason goals for November Morton, Countryside girls basketball

Lofty postseason goals for November Morton, Countryside girls basketball

CLEARWATER — When Anthony Klemmer took over as girls basketball coach at Countryside five years ago, he looked at the banner hanging in the gym. "Girls Basketball. District Champs. 1993.""That’s it?" Klemmer said. "Just 1993?"His goal was to add year...
Updated: 2 hours ago