Editorial: From 'jobs governor,' a job-killing move

Published May 17, 2013

When does Florida's self-proclaimed "jobs governor" say no to potentially thousands of new jobs? When those jobs run headlong into a misguided tax stance that discriminates against Florida businesses and workers but helps carpetbaggers.

The defense that Gov. Rick Scott's office provided last week for why the state would not strike a deal with to build a warehouse in Florida is tortured, and underscores once again how Republican leaders' continued refusal to support efforts to modernize sales tax laws to encompass out-of-state Internet retailers is hurting Floridians and their communities.

Spokeswoman Melissa Sellers told the Associated Press that the governor's office declined to strike a deal with Amazon, which wanted to operate at least one warehouse in Florida, because under state law it would have required the company to begin collecting sales taxes from Florida customers. The company sought an agreement to start the collections in February or whenever the facility opened. Just how many jobs the governor left on the table is unknown, but a year ago Amazon pitched a plan to build two warehouses that would employ 2,500 Floridians.

Sellers repeated the frequent Tallahassee mantra as to why: The governor did not want to raise taxes on Floridians.

Never mind that state law technically requires Floridians to pay sales taxes on all purchases, even those online, but doesn't have a mechanism for collecting them due to an outdated loophole in federal law. And by failing to support congressional efforts to change the law, Scott ensures that every Florida retailer is at competitive disadvantage to out-of-state, online-only retailers like Amazon. It also means that Floridians who actually shop Florida retailers while their neighbors shop online are paying a disproportionate share of what it takes to fund everything from public schools to police officers.

Even Amazon is backing efforts for a congressional fix such as the one the U.S. Senate approved earlier this month on a bipartisan vote. But Scott and Florida's other Republican leaders, including House Speaker Will Weatherford, Senate President Don Gaetz and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio? They're fine with continuing to give the carpetbaggers a break.