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Rick Scott touts budget priorities, highlights job growth in Jacksonville

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Gov. Rick Scott highlighted a Jacksonville confectioner’s jobs expansion Monday as he continued to push for his business tax cut priorities.

Sweet Pete’s, a candy and chocolate manufacturer, opened in Jacksonville back in 2010 and recently expanded operations with 75 new jobs and the purchase of a 23,000-square-foot facility.

“It is exciting to highlight their growth in Florida and across the nation with 75 new jobs just this year,” Scott said. “We want small businesses like Sweet Pete’s, who would directly benefit from our proposal to eliminate the income tax on manufacturers and retailers as well as the commercial lease tax cut, to keep expanding throughout our state.”

Scott’s proposal to cut the tax on commercial leases has been tossed around for several sessions and is heavily backed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Florida is the only state to tax commercial leases, which adds about $1.4 billion to state coffers each year.

Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen and Republican Sen. Dorothy Hukill have already filed bills for the 2016 session that would drop the tax rate from 6 percent to 5 percent. SB 116 has already cleared two of its three committee stops, though the House version has yet to be heard in committee.

The governor’s plan to get rid of income taxes for manufacturers and retailers would cost a bit more, about $770 million according to estimates from Scott’s office.

Democrats have criticized Scott’s plan, claiming most of Scott’s proposed increase in education funding will have to come from tax increases at the local level due to tax cuts.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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