Gov. Rick Scott jobs tour pushes permanent sales tax cuts

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Gov. Rick Scott wants to remove the sales tax on manufacturing machinery purchases permanently, a temporary tax cut the governor also urged last year.

During his recent campaign outing across the state, referred to as the “Jobs for the Next Generation” tour, Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida reports that Scott added the elimination of the equipment sales tax to his re-election platform.

Removing sales taxes on certain types of machinery was one the two top priorities for Scott in the 2013 legislative session, pushed as part of an effort to draw companies to move to Florida, as well as current companies in the state to add workers.

“It really lifts all the red tape,” said Manufacturers Association of Florida lobbyist Nancy Stephens. “In a small-business state, where red tape is something that is very difficult for small businesses to deal with, I think this is going to allow small businesses to jump in and make those purchases without having to jump through a lot of hoops.”

Last year, Scott asked legislators to make permanent the machinery tax cut. Instead, he received a three-year temporary cut in the final week of the session, as part of a larger package of economic-incentives.

“Gov. Scott has always favored a permanent elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing equipment,” campaign spokesperson Greg Blair told the News Service. “Florida is one of only a handful of states that assesses this tax, and it’s important to level the playing field as we compete to create jobs here at home.”

Before April, when the temporary cut began, businesses could qualify for exemptions from the tax, by proving 5 percent increase of “productive output” after purchasing the equipment.

Originally, the output mark was to be 10 percent, but Legislature lowered it in 2012, at Scott’s request.

Estimates for the temporary exemptions were about $140 million a year in savings for manufacturers when the law passed last year. If eliminated, Scott’s campaign expects savings would continue.

Along with the permanent tax cut, other Scott proposals include $30 million for workforce training in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — paid summer residencies for STEM teachers at private-sector companies and clearing regulatory barriers for emergent industries.

Scott’s campaign, which issued a  “policy book,” points to a 2012 law (HB 1207) allowing the testing and operations of “autonomous” self-driving vehicles in Florida, as a sample of removing barriers for new technologies and businesses, Turner notes.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.