Florida House of Representatives Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Friday said lawmakers may well give Gov. Rick Scott his requested $1 billion tax cut in next year’s state budget.
Don’t expect that as the gift that keeps on giving, though.
“The reality of a billion dollars (in tax cuts) recurring is not off the table so much as it’s just not possible,” especially in the context of increased funding for education every year, Crisafulli said.
The Merritt Island Republican held a pre-legislative session media availability in the Capitol. Scott turned in a proposed $79 billion budget for 2016-17 last month.
“That would all take away from a billion dollars in recurring tax cuts,” he said. “We have to sit down and do the math on the proposed budget and find out where we’re going to land.
“We want to focus on the manufacturing tax cut, we want to focus on the commercial lease (tax cut), we want to focus on the corporate tax breaks. Those are all recurring dollars. So if we have a bunch of sale tax holidays, it doesn’t do us a lot of good.”
Scott has consistently called for tax cuts since he was first elected five years ago, but he has been blocked by a recalcitrant Legislature.
That’s because the size of Scott’s tax cuts have either required sizable spending budget cuts or been aimed at businesses instead of consumers. Earlier this year, lawmakers did agree to more than $400 million in tax cuts.
Legislators will consider Scott’s tax cut package during the regular Legislative Session that starts Jan. 12.
Crisafulli also noted that neither the governor’s budget nor lawmakers’ initial work on the 2016-17 spending plan assumes any money from Indian gambling.
Scott submitted a new agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida granting them exclusive rights to offer blackjack at their casinos in return for $3 billion over seven years.
That agreement also contains gambling expansion provisions that many legislators have trouble with, partly because they favor some counties over others.
The deal would allow slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, for instance, but not at the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Lee County – which happens to be about 35 miles from the Seminoles’ competing casino in Immokalee.
“There’s a lot of players on this issue,” Crisafulli said. “The governor signed what he obviously feels is a reasonable proposal. Now it’s up to the Legislature to sit down and see whether we think we can get somewhere.”
Crisafulli said it was “very unlikely” the Legislature would approve the new gambling agreement as is.
“There are regional interests … because you have votes that are tied up in blocs,” he said. “Fairness and equity is an important part of us looking at this.”
Information from The Associated Press was included in this post.