Fla. Senate: No tax cuts

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos on Wednesday said Florida cannot afford the tax cuts that are among Gov. Rick Scott’s top priorities.

The Merritt Island Republican said cutting taxes simply doesn’t add up when the state is facing a $3.5 billion gap between expected revenues and critical and high priority expenses for the budget year starting July 1.

Scott, also a Republican, campaigned on promises to phase out Florida’s corporate income tax and slash school property taxes as part of his plan to create 700,000 new jobs in seven years by making the state friendlier to business.

His tax cuts could expand the budget gap by another $2 billion.

Haridopolos said he’d be open to the tax reductions only if Scott also proposes an equal amount of spending cuts to keep the budget in balance. Scott is expected to unveil his budget proposal to the Legislature in early February.

Haridopolos himself is a longtime advocate of tax cutting but said he cannot justify it when lawmakers will have to cut spending in virtually every part of the budget including education.

He said schools will face the budget ax because lawmakers must make up for $1.2 million in expiring federal stimulus funding they’re getting as part of the current $70.4 billion budget.