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House sends $30 million corporate income tax cut to governor

With back-slapping self praise and Republicans applauding Democrats, the Florida House sent a corporate income tax cut to Gov. Rick Scott Thursday on a bi-partisan vote of 110-5.

The measure sent to the governor a $1,100 a year tax break for 15,000 Florida businesses as Republicans vowed that it will be the first step in a multi-year effort to cut the state’s annual $2 billion corporate tax.

The tax cut, which will cost the state $30 million a year, won bi-partisan support as several Democrats and all 81 Republicans in the House argued that the measure will help small businesses.

The proposal was sent to the governor, who made it a campaign pledge to eliminate Florida’s 40-year-old corporate income tax. While the measure is only a fraction of the $459 million in corporate income tax reduction sought by the governor this year, it was hailed by Republicans as an incentive for job development.

"This is  good faith start towards removing this onerous burden on the very people we are relying on to start jobs in Florida,'' said Rep. Stephen Precourt, R-Orlando, sponsor of the bill.

Democratic Leader Ron Saunders of Key West, however, said he supported the idea but won't likely do much to create jobs. "This really helps eliminate small business paperwork but don’t go back home and say this is huge tax break for small businesses because $1,100 a year is not a huge tax break,'' he said.

Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-West Palm Beach, said that he would have supported it if the measure helped only small businesses but since it gives that same tax break for large corporations he opposed it. "We need to do other things before we help the big corporations too,'' he said. "I do believe this is the first step toward ridding our state of corporate income tax and that's not something I support. I do believe corporations ought to pay their fair share and that we don't pu tthe entire tax burden on individuals."