August 09, 2017

Center-right group launches TV ads on taxes in Carlos Curbelo's district

Curbelo

@alextdaugherty 

American Action Network, a center-right group with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, will spend $2.5 million in the next few weeks to promote an overhaul of the nation's tax system, the next big legislative fight for Republicans in Congress. 

The TV ad buy includes Rep. Carlos Curbelo's Key West-to-Miami district and the ad argues that the current tax system causes American workers to lose their jobs. 

"We are committed to standing up for Americans who have been left behind by our broken tax code, and sharing real stories to raise awareness on how jobs have fled to countries like China," said American Action Network executive director Corry Bliss. "It’s time for Congress to act and defend hard-working Americans and their families across the country.”

Curbelo is one of 24 mostly moderate House Republicans who are part of the August ad buy. The list also includes Florida Rep. Brian Mast, who won Patrick Murphy's seat after he ran for Senate. Curbelo and Mast's districts are being targeted by Democrats as potential 2018 pickups.

Three Democrats, including Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, are challenging Curbelo while former Senate candidate Pam Keith has filed to run against Mast.  

American Action Network has gotten involved in Curbelo's district before. In 2014, when Curbelo successfully challenged Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, American Action Network spent $1.2 million against Garcia. 

The organization is expected to spend up to $20 million on an efforts to change the tax code in the coming months, including a $1 million radio campaign launched two weeks ago that also included Curbelo's district.

Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump are pushing for a lower corporate and personal tax rate along with eliminating many deductions, but an overhaul of the nation's tax system hasn't occurred since Ronald Reagan's administration.

 


 

August 08, 2017

Potential gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis to talk taxes in Miami

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@alextdaugherty 

 

Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Verda Beach, a potential candidate for governor in 2018, is swinging into South Florida to talk about the next big item facing Congress: a comprehensive tax overhaul.

DeSantis will speak at an "Un-Rig the Economy" town hall event at the Miami Airport Sheraton on August 24th in conjunction with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.

Conservatives like DeSantis and Americans for Prosperity are aiming to drastically reduce the country's corporate tax rate, change personal tax rates and revamp tax deductions for the first time since Ronald Reagan's administration. 

"We hope the rest of the Florida delegation will join Congressman DeSantis in fighting back against the current rigged tax system by joining our effort to pass pro-growth tax reform," said AFP Florida director Chris Hudson in a statement. "Americans want a system that’s based on simplicity, efficiency, equitability, predictability, and creates no new burden on taxpayers. We want to speak directly to Floridians who want to help fix our broken tax code."  

Americans for Prosperity and Republicans in Congress are pushing for a tax plan by the end of the year, but it will be harder to pass a tax overhaul that doesn't require 60 Senate votes after the effort to repeal Obamacare stalled two weeks ago. A tax plan can only pass with a simple majority if the legislation doesn't increase the federal deficit after 10 years, and repealing Obamacare would have shaved billions off the deficit. Republicans only have 52 seats in the Senate, so a bill that requires 60 votes will need Democratic support.  

DeSantis, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, briefly ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 before ending his bid after Marco Rubio ultimately sought reelection. Last week, DeSantis asked the Department of Justice to investigate a former information technology worker fired by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston. 

DeSantis also has tax speeches with AFP set for September 19th in Fort Lauderdale at the Marriott Fort Lauderdale North and September 28th in Orlando. All three events run from 6:30 to 8pm. AFP plans to hold 50 tax overhaul events around the country in August and September.

June 20, 2017

Marco Rubio hosts Ivanka Trump at the Capitol to talk family tax credits

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@alextdaugherty 

Sen. Marco Rubio hosted Ivanka Trump at the Capitol on Tuesday to talk about one of their shared priorities: a childhood tax credit. 

"There is a growing desire within the Republican conference, within the Senate and House, to address the fundamental factor that there are people in America who have decided they can't afford to have children because they can't take a month off of work and not be paid," Rubio said after the meeting. 

Trump has long championed a mandatory six-week paid leave for parents and a child tax credit for couples making less than $500,000 a year that would allow them to deduct child care expenses from their income taxes. Lower-income families who wouldn't benefit from a tax deduction could receive a rebate of up to $1,200 a year for child care expenses.

Her proposals, particularly the mandatory paid leave plan, are likely to face blowback from some conservative Republicans. Rubio stopped short of offering support for a mandatory paid leave plan on Tuesday. 

"We're in the early stages of trying to figure out the right approach," Rubio said.

Rubio and Trump didn't get into specifics about how they would expand the tax credit or offer paid leave during the meeting, Rubio said. 

"Today was in receive mode, listening to some of the different concepts and ideas that are already out there and figuring out how some of these can work together," Rubio said. "It was really more of an introductory, first step meeting but it was a good one." 

Also in the meeting were Republican Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Joni Ernst of Iowa,  Mike Lee of Utah, Steve Daines of Montana and Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Rubio, Lee and Fischer have each sponsored legislation that would provide tax credits to businesses that provide paid leave to parents. 

"In order to do public policy right, it takes a little bit of time and a lot of input to make sure you have answers to every question," Rubio said. "We're all operating on 30 minute news cycles but tax policy of this sort and broader policies of this sort takes a little bit of time, but it's worth the work." 

Rubio also said that it would be his preference to include a child tax credit as part of a larger tax overhaul, but that he's prepared to move forward on a standalone bill if it can't be included. 

"That would be ideal, if there's going to be a broad tax reform, for the pro-family component to be a part of it," Rubio said. "But if it doesn't happen we're prepared to move independently of a broader reform." 

Rubio said that younger Senators in their 30s, 40s and 50s with young children are particularly sensitive to the challenges that come with raising children. 

"People used to tell me, 'How can you have four kids, it's really expensive?'" Rubio said. "And I would say all you've got to do is put more water in the soup, but now you're finding out that is not necessarily always the case." 

Photo via AP's Erica Werner on Twitter. 

January 12, 2016

Video(s): What to watch for in Florida's 2016 legislative session

From tax cuts and health care to gambling and guns, here are six key issues and themes to watch for as the 2016 Florida legislative session gets underway today.

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February 12, 2014

Putnam builds support for business sales tax cut

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is building support for a plan that would cut some sales taxes paid by businesses and pump money into public school construction.

He outlined his proposal in a press conference Wednesday.

Putnam wants to cut the 7 percent sales tax on energy paid by businesses by half, saving Florida businesses more than $225 million, he said. The remaining revenue would be funnelled into school maintenance and construction. 

In addition, consumers wishing to purchase energy-efficient appliances would be able to take advantage of a weekend-long sales tax holiday in September.

"There is an opportunity here to support Florida's businesses, Florida’s families and consumers, and Florida’s public education system," Putnam said.

Public school systems and state universities used to receive maintenance and construction money through the Public Education Capital Outlay fund. But the money has been dwindling, since PECO dollars are generated from a state tax on cable TV, electricity and land-line telephone bills. 

"It’s a tax on technologies that are not being used as much," said Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who will sponsor the bill in the Senate.

Putnam said $225 million in new construction funding would let school systems "catch up" on deferred maintenance. 

Added Flores: "Our public education institutions won't have to be coming up to Tallahassee and fighting among themselves for construction funding."

Putnam's office later released statements from education and business leaders supporting the move.

"I commend Commissioner Putnam for his willingness to respond to one of education's most critical needs..." Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg said. "We cannot allow a lack of facilities funding to limit the access and service we provide to Florida's students."

Said Florida Charter School Alliance Chairman Jim Horne: “We stand in support of this great proposal that will dramatically increase funding for education facilities. Every student deserves a learning environment that is both safe and secure but also equipped with best technology that gives Florida students real opportunity to compete in an increasingly global marketplace."

 

October 15, 2013

Bi-partisan federal debt opponents target Florida with new television ads

 

As debt ceiling and government shutdown talks continue to lumber slowly forward in Washington, the bi-partisan organization aimed at calling attention to the nation's debt crisis has launched a national ad campaign and is targeting Florida.

"For crying out loud, who isn't fed up with what's going on in Washington,'' says former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican in the ad, to former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat.

"These politicians are playing games, jerking our country around from crisis to crisis,'' Bowles replies.

The pair are authors of the Simpson-Bowles plan, also known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and co-chairs of President Obama’s Deficit Commission. The wide-ranging plan offered Washington a blueprint for reducing the federal deficit by cutting more than $2.5 trillion over 10 years by cutting spending, imposing user fees, raising the retirement age and reforming taxes. 

The commission was conceived as a way to force a bi-partisan compromise even before Washington imploded into bipartisan dysfunction. It was also was roundly ignored -- by Obama, and by Republicans. 

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March 22, 2013

Panhandle lawmaker with power over Dolphins deal getting an earful

A Panhandle Republican has an outsized role to play in deciding whether the Miami Dolphins’ quest for a taxpayer-supported stadium renovation is successful—and he’s getting an earful from both sides of the debate.

Rep. Jimmy Patronis, a Panama City Republican who chairs the Economic Affairs Committee, said the team’s bill was more likely to get a hearing after the Dolphins have agreed to “concessions,” but acknowledged that opponents of the bill have his ear as well.

“I don’t know yet,” he said about whether he’d bring the Dolphins bill up for a vote soon. “I have had [many] meetings about the Dolphins bill with the stakeholders—both opponents and the proponents—and it seems like the negotiations on behalf of putting forward a package that there’s a consensus on everyday gets better and better.”

The Dolphins are backing HB 165, hoping get as much as $200 million in taxpayer aid for the renovation of Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. The team said a stadium upgrade would help lure a Super Bowl to South Florida—and recently agreed to make some of the taxpayer support contingent on doing just that.

“I am enthusiastically a big fan of Super Bowls being in the state of Florida and understanding if this is what it takes to get one, then great,” said Patronis. “But can the state afford it?”

Continue reading "Panhandle lawmaker with power over Dolphins deal getting an earful" »

March 01, 2013

The Barack Obama-Rick Scott sequestration blame files: HUD, DOD, HHS cuts

@MarcACaputo

Two days ago, Gov. Rick Scott wrote President Obama attacking the Democrat for the federal-spending cuts known as the sequestration:

"If your administration fails to do its job to responsibly manage the budget, thousands of Floridians will lose their jobs under sequestration. There is no doubt that budget cuts must be made at the national level, just as we do here at the state level. But, it is the responsibility of the administration to administer spending reductions responsibly. Instead of cutting with a scalpel, your sequestration process is a meat cleaver..."

Now, the administration is responding with a series of blame-Congress letters. Under the 2011 debt deal hammered out between Obama and Congress, the sequestration cuts kicked in because Congress couldn't come up with a deficit-reduction agreement.

Scott's administration was today sent multiple letters concerning cuts to Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and Housing and Urban Development. A sample from the HHS letter:

"As you are likely aware, due to the failure of Congress to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration, a series of spending cuts called sequestration will cancel approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the federal government for the remainder of the federal fiscal year….

"In the context of sequestration, an estimated 2,700 children in your state are expected to lose access to head Start and Early Head Start services as a result of a reduction of $15.8 million in funding. The funding reduction could disrupt services for children and families, as some Head Start centers would need to close their classrooms early this school year or reopen their programs late in the fall. Programs may have to cut services, staff, and classrooms of the current school year in order to operate under the reduced funding level. This impact would be felt by community and faith-based organizations, small businesses, local governments, and school systems forced to lay off teachers, teacher assistants, and other staff."

Earlier, Scott in Orlando said the first cuts should be experienced by Obama and Congress:

“You know right now, this is the first day of sequestration. I don’t believe Congress or the President should continue to get paid while they haven’t solved this problem. We’ve had to balance our budget in our state. We’ve had to watch how we spend money. We’ve had to live within our means. And we didn’t do it with a meat cleaver; we did it with a scalpel. We watched what we could do agency by agency. The federal government needs to do the same thing. They should not be paid while they don’t solve this problem.”

And on it goes.

The letters:

Download Letter to President Obama

Download DOD

Download HHS

Download HUD

February 18, 2013

Movers & Shakers: TaxWatch exec resigns abruptly

H. Steven Hammond, who has been the executive director of the TaxWatch Center for Smart Justice since May, has resigned, effective immediately.

“I feel it is time for me to move on to pursue other interests and opportunities, not the least of which is further commitment to prison ministry,” the management executive and consultant stated in a press release.

Florida TaxWatch, a private, nonprofit, non-partisan research institute, will be conducting an “extensive search,” according to the release, for a new executive director over the next four months. In the meantime, Robert Weissert, vice president for research and general counsel, will be in charge.

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February 01, 2013

Working group: Raise sales tax to 6.34%, scrap communications tax

A work group has officially recommended that Florida do away with its “Communication Services Tax” and replace the $1.5 billion in revenue by raising the state’s sales tax from 6-percent to 6.34 percent.

The communication services tax, which is levied on things like home phone service and cable television, comes in at an average of about 14.21 percent, according to the Department of Revenue, which led the working group.

In a Jan. 31 letter to Gov. Rick Scott and Legislative leaders, members of the work group recommended increasing the state’s sales tax and repealing the CST in order to level the playing field in the marketplace.

According to estimates from the working group—which consisted of four members from the communications industry and four representatives of local government—the proposal could save money for some consumers.

Those estimates, however, come from a government affairs firm that represents several major telecommunications companies. Telecoms have long pushed for changes to state taxes on their products and services, and could stand to save millions of dollars under the change.

According to the numbers presented to the work group, a “typical” household might save $190 per year by eliminating the CST and paying higher sales taxes. Small businesses could also save money. The Department of Revenue said that it did not have appropriate data to conduct an independent study and that further research needed to be done to figure out the full pocketbook-impact of the recommendation.

Continue reading "Working group: Raise sales tax to 6.34%, scrap communications tax" »