Gov. Scott touts advantages of cutting taxes for manufacturers

Published March 1, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — Gov. Rick Scott talked up tax cuts for manufacturers at a St. Petersburg tech manufacturer Thursday, touting his top legislative priority as a key to creating jobs.

Part of Scott's $74.2 billion budget plan, the proposal would exclude the state's 17,000 manufacturing firms from paying sales taxes on equipment.

Manufacturers are now offered a tax cut for new machinery if they prove it boosted productivity by 5 percent or more. Scott's proposal would ax that requirement and ditch much of the tax break's red tape.

"The fact that we have this sales tax puts us at a competitive disadvantage to other states," Scott said.

"It's a barrier to putting more jobs in our state."

Manufacturers employ about 5 percent of the state's private workforce, state data show. Estimates show the tax cut would cost the state more than $140 million in revenue.

Scott spoke at Plasma-Therm, a manufacturer of etching machines that build semiconductor chips used in smartphones, hard drives and TVs.

In 2010, CEO Abdul Lateef said the firm had made $50 million in revenue every year over the previous decade.

To pass, Scott's tax cut would need two-thirds of the Legislature's approval. Many Democrats have voted for business tax breaks before, but the party has recently slammed Scott as promoting "tax giveaways to special interest cronies."

Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, called it "trickle-down, voodoo economics."