Invest in Florida's future, pay back vehicle fee with new state revenue

October 15, 2013 

Scott-Jobs Announcement

Gov. Rick Scott speaks at HealthPlan Services in Tampa, Fla. where he announced a health care firm's plan to hire more than 1,000 people over the next five years, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. HealthPlan Services helps insurance carriers recruit and retain customers and offers an online insurance marketplace, where consumers can browse from different insurers. (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Will Vragovic) TAMPA OUT; CITRUS COUNTY OUT; PORT CHARLOTTE OUT; BROOKSVILLE HERNANDO TODAY OUT


Ever since Gov. Rick Scott declared his intention to reduce taxes and fees by $500 million in the 2014-2015 budget thanks to a projected revenue surplus of $845 million, business interests have rushed to the table with ideas.

The most appealing proposal, though, benefits the average Floridian -- a sharp cut in the motor vehicle registration fee. A strong argument can also be made for greater state investment in education and infrastructure to lay the groundwork for a more prosperous future.

The governor and legislators have been very generous to business over the past few years at the expense of the average state resident.

According to the conservative Tax Foundation, Florida ranks fifth in the nation in the organization's newly released 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index -- an indication that business already enjoys low taxation.

Both the economy and employment continue to improve. With revenue increasing last year, the state's budget picture is brighter than ever after years of steep reductions in spending and services.

Now's the time to focus on pressing issues that have gone wanting. State colleges and traditional public schools have been short-changed for several years on state funding for construction, maintenance and more.

Both State College of Florida and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee hope to improve their campuses with new facilities. And even with this year's raise, public school teachers are still underpaid.

The Legislature boosted the vehicle registration fee dramatically during recessionary times, and now it's time for payback. The reduction would cost only $233 million, leaving plenty for investments -- not only in education but in another public arena vital to the business community.

Florida has neglected transportation infrastructure for years, raiding billions and billions from the trust funds designed to pay for maintenance and construction. Business must have a strong road network to deliver goods and services efficiently.

Investments in education and transportation will serve business interests and the public while Floridians deserve a return to less burdensome vehicle registration fees.

If the governor wants to bolster his re-election campaign, he should be touting these measures.

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