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Tax cut package clears Legislature

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

It was among the last on the list Friday, but the Legislature passed a tax-cut package worth $129 million.

The Senate vote was 35-4, with four Democrats opposed: Dwight Bullard of Miami, Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, Arthenia Joyner of Tampa and Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens.

That sent it back to the House, which passed it after some debate by 105-9.

In the Senate, Clemens debated against the legislation, rattling off a list of Florida economic statistics that showed the state ranked poorly in a variety of indicators, such as being 50th among states in the oral health care of its kids.

“We don’t need this tax package,” he said. “Let’s fix all these problems … instead of giving tax cuts to companies.”

A Democratic colleague dressed him down: “Some of the things you said have nothing to do with this tax package,” said Joe Abruzzo of Boynton Beach, who worked on the package. He said tax cuts stoke “an economic engine” that creates jobs.

Among other provisions, the bill (HB 7099) would make permanent the current break on the state’s 6 percent sales tax on heavy equipment bought by manufacturers.

It also phases out over three years a tax on asphalt used in road projects. The bill cuts the aviation fuel tax from 6.9 percent to 4.27 percent, and even reduces the tax on pear cider from 2.25 per gallon to 89 cents, she said.

Associated Industries of Florida, the state’s premier business lobby, “applaud(ed) the inclusion of language to repeal the manufacturing equipment sales tax” in a statement released late Friday.

“… AIF supports the repeal of this pro-business tax cut that will energize manufacturing and grow high-wage and high-value added jobs in the Sunshine State,” said President and CEO Tom Feeney. “We look forward to Gov. Scott signing this good tax reducing measure into law.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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