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 smart phones 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 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..
State Rep. Matt Gaetz, chairman of the House Finance & Tax Committee, praised the governor's overall tax cut plan, but 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 in August;
A reduction on 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 the Saturday after Thanksgiving;
A cut in sales taxes on technology, including computers, tablets, and cell phones.
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 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 present 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.