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House passes tax-cut package, uncertain in Senate

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Although the Florida House overwhelmingly passed a $690 million tax-cut package Thursday, it still faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

While the Senate looks to plug a $2.2 billion hole in the healthcare budget, the House is focused on keeping Florida’s economy growing by cutting costs for households and businesses.

“One of the best ways to have a vibrant economy is to put money back in the pocket of taxpayers. That is why we cut the cellphone and TV tax,” said state Rep. Matt Gaetz, chair of the House Finance and Tax Committee.

The package of cuts, exemptions and credits in HB 7141 nearly matches a proposal from Gov. Rick Scott. It actually contains about $16 million more in cuts and cleared the House on a 112 -3 vote.

Democratic Leader Mark Pafford was one of three no votes.

“At a time of tremendous need in the state of Florida tax cuts need to be measured very carefully,” Pafford said, mentioning the elderly and special needs patients on waiting lists for medical and other services.

The Senate has an $800 million tax-cut package ready but wants to plug the hole created by the end of the Low Income Pool program before moving forward on it.

“This is a policy debate. This is a policy discussion. We look forward to having the dialogue,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner earlier this week. “It’s not about who wins and loses. It’s about, when you go home, if hospitals are going to absolutely see significant rate cuts because LIP’s not there and everybody needs to understand that before this budget passes. “

The House would reduce the communications tax 3.6 percent, exempt college textbooks from sales tax and create a corporate tax credit for Florida-based defense contractors, among other things. It also includes a back-to-school sales tax holiday and provides tax credits for research companies.

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