Gov. Charlie Crist says he's still opposed to a cigarette tax increase, but he sounds increasingly resigned to one coming from the Legislature. As long as the deal excludes cigars.
"I'm not particularly fond of any taxes, user fees may be a different item, so we'll see how it progresses in the House and Senate," Crist told reporters. "They have a tough job, our members. We've already cut over $7 billion over the past two years ... We know that we have to be in balance."
Is it easier to go along with the tax if new revenue is dedicated toward low-income or child health care? "Well, I'll leave that to the Legislature. They've got a tough job filling these holes as it is. So I don't want to be restrictive in how it might be utilized except for the betterment of the people of Florida."
Crist said definitely does not want to see cigars included, a provision of the Senate proposal. "Obviously that's an industry in Florida that has a great tradition, especially in the Tampa Bay area and probably some other parts of the state. I would like to see that removed, if possible."
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Crist also talked about a smaller U.S. Sugar land deal, about 75,000 acres, because of dismal economic times. The Herald wrote about this last week. Story here.)
"My goal is to hit the sweet spot, no pun intended, and really target in on the acreage that's important to able to be successful to connecting the lake to the Everglades."
He also said he opposes a move to charge online travel companies a fuller amount of bed tax. "I don't know if that's necessary," Crist said. "It seems to me that companies like that really benefit a state like Florida, that depends so much on tourism ... I haven't seen the particulars ... but my gut instinct is that might be somewhat detrimental to tourism."