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House approves $1 billion tax cut package

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Florida House passed a wide-sweeping tax cut package Thursday, setting the scene for negotiations with the Senate over the tax reductions.

The House voted 96 to 17 to support the nearly $1 billion proposal, getting the support of several House Democrats.

“Here’s in Florida we’re running counter-culture to many of the decisions that are made to our north and to our west,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, the chairman of the House finance and tax committee. “We’ve made the decision we can grow our economy, meet the needs of our state and care for the vulnerable not by having more taxes and higher taxes, but by having more taxpayers.”

The House proposal cuts the business tax rate from 6 percent to 5 percent in 2017, with an additional, one-year, 1 percent reduction in 2018. It also creates a permanent tax exemption for manufacturing equipment. The proposal includes several sales tax holidays, including a 10-day back to school sales tax holiday and a one-day sales tax holiday for fishing and hunting supplies.

On Wednesday, Republicans swatted down several attempts by Democrats to amend the bill. Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat, proposed four amendments that would have made several sales tax holidays permanent. Currently, sales tax holidays need to be renewed each year. All four of those amendments failed.

“I feel like this is, for many of us, one of those difficult votes each year because there’s so many good things and so many bad things,” said Rodriguez, who opposed the bill.

The House plan now heads to the Senate, where senators have not set aside as much for tax cuts. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said it is going will be part of negotiations between the House and Senate.

“I think we’ve put a product on the table,” said Crisafulli.

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