Gov. Rick Scott kicked off the annual AP reporting seminar in Tallahassee Wednesday by calling for more money for jobs incentives and bigger tax cuts than the $400 million package he signed into law in June. Both ideas are likely to put Scott on a collision course with the Senate, where leaders are already on record as having other ideas.
Scott promised voters in his campaign for re-election in 2014 that he would cut taxes by $1 billion over two years so he owes Floridians an additional $600 million in tax cuts, but he has to win legislative support. It won't be easy. Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, sent a memo to senators last week in which he said the projected boost in tax revenue would allow for a $250 million tax cut package.
Gardiner said a surge in Medicaid caseloads will cost the state an additional $600 million next year.
"My tax cut proposal this year will be bigger than my tax cut proposal last year," said Scott, who initially proposed a $700 million tax cut package in 2015 that lawmakers cut by nearly half. "We should be able to do it. we're growing revenues. We're paying down debt ... We ought to give money back to our taxpayers."
Scott also said he'll seek a permanent repeal of the 6 percent statewide sales tax on manufacturing equipment. That's another idea that has faced resistance in the Legislature, which voted in 2013 to repeal it for a three-year period. He did not offer details of other elements of a proposed tax cut package.
The governor also reiterated his view that Enterprise Florida is running out of money for the closing fund and other incentive programs to attract new jobs to Florida. "We have barely any money left," Scott said. "We can't be subject to whether the Legislature holds a special committee meeting or not."
Gardiner has expressed the Senate view that multi-year jobs deals should be funded on a year-to-year, "pay as you go" basis and he has said Enterprise Florida has no legislative authority to keep hundreds of millions of dollars in escrow accounts.
Scott was relaxed and more talkative than usual Wednesday at the annual AP event, held on the 22nd floor of the Capitol. He announced that he'll be a grandfather for the fourth time as his oldest daughter Allison is pregnant with her third child. In response to a question about mental health programs, he noted that his brother has been manic depressive for much of his life.