Scott Unveils 2016-17 Budget Plan With Tax Cuts, Enterprise Florida Funding
Governor Rick Scott’s $79 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year echoes proposals of old—tax cuts for businesses, and more money for economic development. But he’s also doubling down on his bid to get more money for his main job creation agency, Enterprise Florida.
Governor Rick Scott has proposed putting another $250 million into Enterprise Florida. The money would be spread over several years. Monday Jacksonville Mayor and former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry endorsed the plan:
“Rick Scott has made Florid the destination place for jobs, the destination place for companies to relocate. I want Jacksonville to be that place and Enterprise Florida helps," Curry said.
Enterprise Florida has claimed it’s broke, but lawmakers contend it has $112 million in the bank that hasn’t been spent. The agency says those dollars are tied up in current obligations. The $250 million ask would be used to create a new trust fund that wouldn’t be tapped until companies reach their job creation goals. But it would earn more interest while it waits. Deals over a million dollars would have to be approved by the House Speaker, Senate President and Governor.
“This money is significant," Scott told reporters after unveiling his budget proposal. "$250 million to work with our cities, work with our counties, work with companies to get more regional offices, more corporate offices…it’s important that we fund this to get more jobs in our state. More high paying jobs.”
But he’ll have to convince skeptical lawmakers. The Senate has expressed concerns about Enterprise Florida and isn’t keen on giving the agency more money.
Scott wants to lower taxes by a billion dollars next year. And while tax breaks are always a hit with the Republican majority legislature, the body is beginning to think the tax cuts may be excessive.
While he governor cuts taxes in one area he relies heavily on them to fund his proposed education increases. Property values are increasing as the economy continues to rebound and collections go up. Some legislators, like House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, are wary of relying too much on that revenue stream. Scott says the state isn’t raising property taxes.
“We are not raising the millege rate. We haven’t done that. But when property values go up, that’s good for all of us," Scott said.
That doesn’t mean local governments can’t raise property taxes, though. And several have. What the governor gets will depend on what the legislature decides. He’s again asking to eliminate a sales tax on manufacturing equipment—the legislature previously opted to suspend the tax.