Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Politics

Scott frustrated that tax repeal wasn't embraced

Gov. Rick Scott fired back at legislative leaders Tuesday for not embracing his call to eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, one of his two priorities in the 2013 session.

With frustration evident in his voice, Scott said he believed he had agreement with legislative leaders to repeal the tax for a three-year period. Neither the Senate president nor the House speaker would confirm that Monday night.

"I don't know what they're saying now. They'll have to explain that," Scott said. "It would be ridiculous not to cut taxes in a year when we have a budget surplus."

Scott went on to say: "They have to explain what they meant. I know that we had an agreement, a three-year agreement."

An analysis says repeal of the tax would result in a loss of about $140 million in sales tax revenue to the state, cities and counties. The budget before lawmakers is $74.5 billion, and is about $4 billion higher than current spending.

Scott didn't stop there: He directly criticized the Legislature for writing a budget that includes a 3 percent tuition increase on in-state students.

To Scott, raising tuition is the same as raising taxes, which he also called "ridiculous."

Abortion bill bound for Scott

For the first time in two years, an abortion-related bill is headed to the governor, who has already indicated his praise for the bill that focuses on infants born alive after a failed abortion.

The Senate passed HB 1129 by a 38-0 vote Tuesday without any debate.

Sponsored by Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, the bill passed the House earlier this month 119-0.

The measure requires health providers to give any infant born alive emergency medical care or face criminal penalties, and requires that cases of live births following an abortion attempt be reported.

School raises regain priority

Florida lawmakers are looking to speed up the release of $480 million in school employee raises after the House and Senate negotiated a budget that proposed delaying pay increases until June 2014.

On Tuesday, amid pushback from school officials, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said they expect to create flexibility by changing a conforming bill that makes the budget align with state law.

"The date is a challenge and something we believe needs to be rectified in the conforming bill," said Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Legislators won't vote on the $74.5 billion budget until Thursday afternoon, so lawmakers have until then to tweak the timetable.

Decisive, split loyalties in 2016

Hillary Clinton is the clear favorite among Democrats in the 2016 presidential race while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio leads — slightly — the Republican field, according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll.

The national poll of registered voters found that 63 percent of self-identified Democrats and those who lean Democratic support Clinton.

Joe Biden came second with 12 percent, followed by Andrew Cuomo with 3 percent.

"As for the current crop of frequently mentioned Republican possibilities, Republicans split their loyalties about evenly among Florida Senator Marco Rubio (18%), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (16%), and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (14%). Another nine percent endorse former US Senator Rick Santorum, and a fifth each prefer someone else (21%) or are unsure (21%)."

The poll was conducted by telephone April 22-28 using a randomly selected sample of 863 registered voters nationwide.

It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Times/Herald writers Adam C. Smith, Rochelle Koff and Kathleen McGrory contributed.

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