Florida Gov. Rick Scott will keep pushing in the coming year to cut the state's corporate income tax — but in a way that may make it hard for Scott to keep his promise of eliminating the tax entirely.
Scott outlined his latest tax cut proposal on Thursday during an appearance at a national convention of real estate agents gathered in Orlando.
The governor told the group he will ask state legislators next spring to exempt about another 2,000 businesses in the Sunshine State from having to pay the tax. If passed the change would take place in 2014 when Scott will be seeking a second term.
"Everything we do must be tied to helping families get jobs, and eliminating this tax will ensure more small businesses can hire people," said Scott in a statement.
During his maverick campaign for governor Scott vowed to eliminate the tax entirely over a seven-year period. But he was unable to get the Republican-controlled Legislature to go along with his first effort to cut the tax rate in 2011.
Lawmakers resisted Scott's initial tax-cutting plan because he was asking for a large tax cut the same year that legislators were also cutting spending for schools and health care. They instead agreed to exempt the first $25,000 of business income from taxes. This year that exemption level was raised to $50,000.
Scott's latest proposal would raise the exemption level to $75,000. It would cost the state an estimated $8 million at first and would rise to roughly $18 million in its second year. This year the corporate income tax is expected to bring in $2.1 billion.
Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek and who has sat on the House tax committee, said the size of Scott's tax cut shows he is being more "political savvy" about what he can accomplish.
But Waldman said that businesses in Florida care more about education and the quality of the employee workforce than the corporate income tax. He also noted how voters this week rejected several tax-cutting amendments — including one that was proposed by Scott.
Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, called Scott's proposal "a hand out" to "corporate special interests."
"These are the wrong priorities to grow our economy, they are the wrong priorities to move our state forward, and they are same failed ideas that are out of touch with Florida's values and have been rejected by Florida's citizens," Arceneaux said.
His Republican counterpart, Mike Grissom, said Scott's proposal is in line with Democratic President Barack Obama's campaign pledge to support of middle class tax cuts.
"It's difficult to see how they can oppose a small business tax cut targeting the middle class when Barack Obama himself acknowledges it is necessary to turn our economy around," Grissom said.
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