Rep. Ritch Workman says Legislature not bound by Scott’s $500M tax cut pledge

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Rep. Ritch Workman will not be bound by Gov. Rick Scott’s commitment to reduce $500 million in taxes and fees during the 2014 legislative session. According to Workman, the final package will probably be much smaller.

Workman, the Melbourne Republican who chairs the House Finance and Tax Committee, told the News Service of Florida that the final reductions would depend in part on the estimated surplus in the state budget when lawmakers actually start the final package.

“I appreciate what the governor put out there,” Workman told reporter Brandon Larrabee of the News Service. “I think he’s got a good round number. But we could see a tax break bigger than that, or, depending on what’s available when the final numbers come out, it may very well be smaller.”

Workman said he would be using the $500 million figure, at least for now. Scott used that figure as a centerpiece for the next session, which comes during the governor’s re-election effort in 2014.

State officials estimate the state budget surplus to be $845.7 for the year beginning July 1, with more than half — $449 million — coming in the form of a one-time-only payment. That was also figured before the federal government shutdown.

Workman’s committee heard several tax-cut ideas Thursday. Part of the two-and-a-half meeting was an idea from a Realtor group pushing a $1.5 billion sales tax reduction on commercial leases. Randy Miller, vice president of the Florida Retail Federation, suggested a continuation of the sales-tax holiday on school supplies and reinstating one on items for hurricane preparedness.

Miller also recommended looking at lowering the state’s communications services tax, although there was not a popular clamor for reducing that tax.

“The reason you don’t hear much about it,” Miller told the committee, “is people don’t understand their phone bill.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.