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Politics / Issues

Governor Rick Scott Unveils Budget Proposal

Credit Nick Evans

Florida Governor Rick Scott is calling for tax cuts again despite this year’s hazy budget outlook.  The governor unveiled his budget proposal Tuesday.

The governor’s budget proposal comes amid a squabble over incentive funding and forecasts projecting almost no new money available.  Still, Governor Rick Scott is optimistic he can deliver tax cuts for Floridians again.

“I’ve been in office long enough to know that every year there are always people who say we cannot afford to cut taxes,” Rick Scott says, “[to] make strategic investments in areas that are important to families and provide savings to tax payers.”

“But they are absolutely wrong.”

Scott campaigned in 2014 on cutting $1 billion in taxes.  He’s largely fulfilled that promise, and now he wants to slash $600 million more.  But some critics say those cuts have contributed to the state’s current fiscal woes. 

“It’s not worked, and the proof is in the pudding,” Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon says, “because ten years later here we are doing the exact same thing, with the exact same problem and talking about we need to cut, cut, cut again.”

But with the GOP controlling the House and Senate the question is not whether Scott’s tax cut will pass—it’s how much he’ll get.  

One element in that equation is property taxes.  Scott is banking on increasing collections as home values rise.  But House Speaker Richard Corcoran calls that a tax hike.

“I’ve said it a thousand times:  the House will not raise taxes.” Corcoran says.

“We will not raise taxes, and if that means a lengthy year, we’re prepared for that.  But we will not raise property taxes—not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”

But Scott says his proposal isn’t a tax increase because millage rates which help fund schools won’t change.

“So when your house goes up in value, most of us like that, right?” Scott says.  “So anybody that doesn’t understand that that’s not a tax increase, I’m surprised.”

“And I would assume those same people then are going to propose reducing sales tax when they see a consumer good go up in price also—because under their scenario that would be a tax increase, I presume,”  Scott says.

It’s a fight lawmakers had last year, too, with the Legislature winning out.  If Corcoran wins the argument this year it could mean the Governor’s tax package gets some cuts of its own.  

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