Beginning today, Gov. Rick Scott embarks on a four-day “listening tour” with two goals in mind: to repair his tarnished image and promote a plan for $500 million in tax cuts for next year.
As reported by Steve Bousquet in the Tampa Bay Times, Scott will visit local chambers of commerce in five Florida major-market cities, including Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville. His message is that he wants to work with the Legislature during the next year’s session to reduce taxes and fees by $500 million.
Scott does not specify which fees or taxes to reduce, since too much detail would provoke legislators protecting their piece of the public revenue.
Although in the past year the state budget grew by $4 billion, Scott’s only 2013 tax cut proposal was a change in sales taxes for manufacturers, something that was itself cut back by substantially lawmakers.
This new discussion of tax cuts is welcome news to the Florida GOP, especially Senate President Don Gaetz, who says they called for $200 million in cuts in auto tag fees. The Senate proposal was shot down in the House and virtually ignored by the governor.
Democrats decry the tour as an effort to shore up Scott’s sagging poll numbers with voters. In a June Quinnipiac University survey, 43 percent of voters approve of his performance while 44 percent oppose him.
“We need an investment tour instead of election year vote-buying,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith from Fort Lauderdale. “We have neglected so many things for so many years.”
“Instead of embarking on a 4 day ‘re-election’ tour, Scott should stay home & prepare a budget that invests in & funds quality education!” tweeted former Sen. Nan Rich, the only declared Democrat in the 2014 governor’s race.