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With clock ticking, tax package discussed in Senate

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The 2016 tax package was back in the Senate Thursday, one day before the end of the 2016 Legislative Session, with state Sen. Dorothy Hukill trying to safely land the more than 100 page bill.

Ironically, a watchdog group issued a report the same day that said the real tax problem in Florida isn’t at the state level, but higher-than-average local taxes.

Among other provisions, the bill (HB 7099) would make permanent the current break on the state’s 6 percent sales tax on heavy equipment bought by manufacturers.

Getting down in the weeds, the Port Orange Republican also mentioned it also phases out over three years a tax on asphalt used in road projects.

The bill also cuts the aviation fuel tax from 6.9 percent to 4.27 percent, and reduces the tax on pear cider from 2.25 per gallon to 89 cents, she said.

That brought a challenge from fellow Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Miami Democrat, who mentioned a growing industry in South Florida of ciders made from a variety of tropical fruits.

Hukill said she’d be happy to talk about a tax cut for those beverages too, “but next year.”

State Sen. Nancy Detert tried to amend the bill with a provision for state’s now-moribund film incentives, saying her language “just stops the bleeding from the bad process we now have.”

It would allow the state to stop paying film and TV producers who haven’t yet turned in all their paperwork, the Venice Republican explained. The amendment failed.

The bill was rolled over for third reading on Friday, meaning debate and a vote.

Also Thursday, Florida TaxWatch issued a news release on a new report that “Floridians’ tax burden remains lower than most states (but) local government taxes are higher than average.”

The 2016 edition of How Florida Compares: Taxes was released Thursday.

“While the state does have relatively low state tax burdens, more than half of Florida’s revenue collections come from local governments,” the release said. “The report shows that Florida’s local governments raise 53.2 percent of all Florida government revenue, which is the third highest percentage in the nation.”

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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