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Senate fast-tracks $187M tax credit package

A bill filled with tax incentives sailed through the Senate Ways and Means committee today on a vote of 22-2. The legislation includes incentives for Florida's ports, manufacturing businesses, space industries and movie productions. It also includes an incentive to re-hire workers laid off last year and a tax break on yachts and planes.

The bill (here's our story from today about this and other proposals) now moves to the Senate floor after clearing its only committee stop.

The cost: $187 million over three years. But supporters complain that potential benefits such as increased economic activity are not included in the official analysis. "We're having to face tough choices here," said sponsoring Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. "These are hits against general revenue and appropriations. But they do not take into account any return on investment."

Critics worry about the overall cost, especially while other state government programs are facing drastic cuts. "This is a pretty big price tag at a time when we have very little money," said Democratic Sen. Dan Gelber, of Miami Beach. Gelber voted for the bill today but said he might vote against it on final passage.