Gov. Rick Scott Discusses 2016 Legislative Priorities at AP Editors Meeting: Eliminate the Business Tax for Florida Manufacturers
– Today, Governor Rick Scott attended the Associated Press pre-session meeting and announced two major priorities for the upcoming Legislative session. First, a tax cut package that will be larger than the proposed package last year, including the total repeal of the state business tax on every manufacturer in Florida. Second, making major reforms to Florida’s competitive jobs program. Governor Scott’s final, proposed budget will be announced in the coming weeks.
Below are Governor Scott’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Florida is on a roll – I have to start by bragging. In a little over four years, Florida has created over 940,000 private-sector jobs. With the help and support of my friends in the Legislature: We have cut taxes over 50 times in the last four years and cut $400 million in taxes this year alone. We have invested record amounts for both K-12 and higher education, ensuring that every Florida student has the best opportunity to succeed. We have cut over 3,200 burdensome regulations to make it easier to do business in Florida.
We have been able to make record investments in education, our environment and transportation infrastructure while also maintaining a $1.2 billion surplus…without raising taxes. The average person pays about $1,700 in state taxes in Florida – the lowest in the nation. In the past 12 months, over 100 million people visited our state. We are at a 44-year-low in our crime rate. We are number one for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness. We are the number two state for infrastructure. We are also number two for aerospace and aviation establishments in the U.S. We are indeed on a roll, but we need to keep going to keep growing.
We have to cut taxes to keep growing. I know you all want to hear what we will focus on during the upcoming legislative session, and while we are still working to finalize our budget, I want to highlight two major priorities during my time with you today.
As I mentioned earlier, I am very proud of the work the legislature and my office have done together to turn Florida’s economy around. I am very excited to have heard from President Gardiner and Speaker Crisafulli both of whom share my goal to cut taxes again in the upcoming session. Working together, I know we can give Floridians back more of the hard-earned money they have made by turning our economy around and ensure that Florida continues to out-pace the nation and even take first place in job creation.
First, we will propose a tax cut package that will be larger than the package we proposed last year. One part of our tax package I can discuss today is that we will propose the total repeal of the state business tax on every manufacturer in Florida. This tax cut would be on top of our push to forever end the manufacturing sales tax. If the manufacturing sales tax isn’t repealed this year, there will effectively be a tax increase on manufacturers in our state who are planning to buy multi-million dollar pieces of equipment. Taxing this equipment will kill jobs. It is that simple.
Helping our manufacturing industry succeed is a key way to diversify our economy. Five years ago, our state was in a jobs death spiral. Our economy was in a steep decline and a lot of people talked about how we needed to grow more stable industries to recover. Now it’s time for action. Manufacturing is one of those high-growth industries that are critical to long-term job creation. The more we can cut costs for manufacturers in Florida, the more manufacturing jobs will be created here. It is really that simple. If you don’t want something to grow, tax it. If we want something to grow, we have to cut costs.
I hope 2016 will be the year of the manufacturer in Florida. Working together with the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I know we can become the most competitive state in the nation for manufacturing companies to invest, expand and succeed.
Finally, we must reform our competitive jobs program. The second priority we will focus on in the 2016 legislative session is making major reforms to our competitive jobs program. The Quick Action Closing Fund that EFI uses to attract competitive projects to Florida over other states is almost bankrupt. It was given very little funding during the last Legislative session and now there is virtually very little money left for Florida counties to use when competing against other places in the country for big job wins.
The current Quick Action Closing fund needs to be reformed, plain and simple. Florida cannot compete with Texas for major headquarters projects if we are running out of cash before the end of every year, or if projects are totally dependent on the scheduling of special committee meetings.
We have listened to concerns that some legislators have about the current system, and consulted with national Site Selectors about what they look for in Florida to advocate for major businesses – like GE – to move to our state. With all of this input, we will propose major reforms to the current Quick Action Closing Fund program before the beginning of the 2016 legislative session.
Those are the two main priorities I wanted to touch on today. I look forward to announcing much more when we roll out our final, proposed budget in a few weeks.