Heading into his final year in office, Governor Rick Scott is once again asking the Legislature to cut taxes and fees in myriad areas.
The Governor made the call at stops in Ft. Myers, Sanford and Jacksonville on Monday. The package will be considered during the 2018 regular session that kicks off in January. The crown jewel is a series of sales-tax “holidays.”
“One is a ten-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, so when you’re sending your children back to school you can afford the supplies,” said Scott. “We’ve just finished hurricane season; we know the importance of preparing so in my budget we will have three, one-week sales tax holidays to get ready for hurricane season.”
Total cost of the sales tax holidays is $88 million – $73 million for back-to-school, and the remainder for disaster preparedness. Drivers’ license fees also would be reduced under the plan from the current $48 to $20 – the rate before the hike in 2009.
State Representative Clay Ingram, a Republican from Pensacola, says the Governor’s proposals come as the Legislature faces a tight budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“The final number we come to may not be $180 million in cuts,” said Ingram. “I imagine we’ll have cuts, [but] these are [the Governor’s] recommendations; it’s the Legislature that has the purse strings.”
When lawmakers cut taxes in one area, oftentimes they have to make up for those cuts in other parts of state spending. But Ingram says by and large, that’s not necessarily been the rule of late.
“Obviously, immediately when you cut you’re going to see a decrease in that particular area of revenue,” Ingram said. “But overall, the state revenue picture has increased because for the most part we’ve made up for the cuts in the fact that people have spent more because they have money and revenue has increased.”
Much is being said about this being Rick Scott’s final tax cut plan – his last hurrah as governor. The 2018 session is also the last hurrah for Rep. Clay Ingram, who’s termed out next year. Ingram says the eight years in Tallahassee have flown by.
“The bit of the budget that I have a lot of control over is tourism, transportation and economic development; that’s the committee that I chair,” said Ingram.
More details on Governor Scott’s proposed budget will be made available in the coming weeks.