Some Tampa residents have other ideas for Governor Scott's $500 million tax cut proposal
Because of an expected budget surplus Governor Rick Scott wants to cut $500 million worth of taxes for Floridians next year. During a stop at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Thursday as part of what he’s calling the “It’s Your Money” tour, Scott emphasized cuts to job creators. But a group of ten protesters, including retired Apollo Beach resident Christopher Radulich, wants the proposed cuts to be put to better use.
“Usually, tax cuts benefit the most those in the upper incomes – those making $250,000 or more because a 1% tax cut for a person who is making $250,000 is $2500. A 1% tax cut for me? That’s, $600?]
But many of the fifty or so attendees were realtors or business leaders – the people Scott and other Republicans call job creators. For them, his cuts would provide relief on things like business taxes and a sales tax on commercial leases. Most thanked the Governor for the effort, but wanted more. Jacob Beckel, head of the company Anazao Health, said his company opened shop in Florida because of the Scott administration’s push to cut red tape.
“Now the regulatory creep that the rules making from the Department of Health are making it more and more onerous for companies like myself to do business in Florida. We have about 100 employees in Florida and they typically make about $30,000 more than what the average person in Hillsborough County makes.”
Scott, who is already looking toward his re-election campaign, pointed to regulatory cuts he’s made since taking office in 2010.
“We’ve eliminated 2600 regulations in the last two and a half years, but there’s still, I think, 19,500 – something regulations left. So, I don’t know all of them directly. So, if people tell me where their issues are, I’ll address them.”
There was also talk of funneling state dollars into military bases. Tony Buntyn is the president of U.S. Cyber Solutions, an IT security company owned by disabled veterans.
“Those bases don’t just bring military people to the community; they bring a tremendous amount of money – economic engine – to the community. There’s got to be cuts in the near future from the federal government for the military bases.”
Scott told Buntyn he fought against the across-the-board federal spending cuts that will affect the military. But Scott touted having a strong economy in the state as a better attractor for military families.
“Can their children get into the right schools? Can their spouses get jobs? Do we have encroachment around the base? Issues about making sure that their mission can be fulfilled, those are typical things. With regard to that we are now perceived to be the most military friendly state in the country if you talk to most of the people in DC.”
Scott is touring the state soliciting ideas from Floridians on how to use the estimated budget surplus, even though he already has his own ideas complete with bright green visuals. For families, tax cuts would include a sales tax holiday and reductions to property taxes. Kenny Blankenship is a Pasco County teacher and vice president of the United School Employees of Pasco. He said what families really need is more investment in public education.
“In Pasco County, our air conditioning units are failing left and right in many of our schools because of antiquated systems and what I would like to know is, are you going to fix the problems in education that go beyond the classroom issues?”
“We’ve been able, for two years in a row, increase our K-12 funding by over a billion dollars. This year, for the first time I think probably in the history of the state, we made sure teachers had the opportunity for a pay raise. We put $400 million in our budget this year to make sure teachers had a pay raise. It’s exciting what we’re doing.”
But Susan Smith, a former teacher and Tampa-based public education advocate said the governor is lying. She conceded he signed a budget that did replace more than $400 million to education.
And sitting next to her in the swank lobby overlooking the field where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play, another woman had her own ideas on how to spend some of the budget surplus. Connie Gee is the vice president of Medivision, a company that analyzes healthcare claims to find savings. She wants the surplus used to pay off the state’s hurricane catastrophe fund. She also wants the legislature to lobby Congress to reclaim some of the gas tax paid by people in Florida to continue to fund the so-called CAT fund.
“More people should be contributing to that. So why not have the 13.8 [million] licensed drivers who are paying the taxes every time they fill up the pump, it’s not asking for more money, and then the 90 million visitors that come here every year – that’s a lot of revenue.”
Scott told her it was unlikely that would be an option because it would take an act of Congress, but called it a good idea. Scott will finish his tour Friday in Orlando.
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