Scott signs off on jobs bills

Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday signed a four bills he’s calling a jobs package.  James Call reports the measures include a host of tax cuts for businesses and renames the state’s unemployment compensation system a reemployment assistance program.

Leaders of Florida business community surrounded the governor for the ceremonial bill signing.

Governor Rick Scott takes a small approach to government. Since becoming Florida’s chief executive he has worked to reduce government’s role in the marketplace  by cutting taxes and regulations. The thinking is by reducing the cost of doing business and providing a predictable regulatory scheme, Florida will become a Mecca for job creators. The governor says that is the goal behind the four bills he signed Wednesday.

"Florida is clearly the state everyone else is going to have to compete with, we are going to be the state that focuses on reducing taxes, reducing regulations we don’t need,  making it easier to get permits, reducing lawsuits uh, we’re going to be number one in job creation."

The package includes a billion dollars in tax cuts for businesses, spread over three years. And by eliminating hundreds of state rules it takes what the governor calls a big step forward in streamlining state regulations. While a Quinnipiac poll indicates about two-thirds of Floridians believe the state is still in a recession, Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce says Wednesday’s bill signing should send a message across the state and nation that Florida is open for business.

"So the whole goal of this job package is to send a message to small business the jobs creators that it is safe to get back in the water again. So we want to lower the cost of doing business, we want to add stability and predictability to Florida’s economy. And if you think about it, at a time when Washington is going in the other direction, Florida has an opportunity to lead the nation, show the nation how it is done and that is what this job package is doing."

The past two legislative sessions, Democrats, especially in the House, have asked for proof that a recipe of tax and regulations cuts creates jobs. The governor concedes it is difficult to show a relationship. Bill Herrle is a spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. He lobbied for what amounts to a $50 per employee cut in the unemployment compensation tax. Herrle says for a specific business that cut may seem insignificant but when viewed in context of Florida’s entire economy a different picture emerges.

"But $400 million across the Florida economy that otherwise would go into a trust fund very much so. That is $400 million in entrepreneurs’ hands that can create jobs. You look at it on the macro scale it becomes significant. Any individual small business it is not going to add up to much but small businesses know that we are a small business economy and if you spread that benefit across all of them you are going to have job creation."

In addition to the unemployment compensation tax reduction, Scott’s job package includes a cut in the corporate income tax and a sales tax exemption for manufacturers. It also provides the governor with more authority to supervise regional workforce boards.  Scott has questioned how some boards have spent money.