The $400 million tax break package being cobbled together Tuesday by Republican House and Senate budget negotiators isn’t going to look anything like the proposal pitched by fellow GOP Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott had outlined a $1 billion tax-cut plan that would kick-in over two years. The bulk of the reductions — $770 million — permanently erased the corporate income tax paid by retailers and manufacturers, a move the governor said was going to fire the state’s economy.
Scott also wanted $250 million in economic incentives. But lawmakers have kissed off that Scott priority, too.
Senate budget chief Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said he hasn’t spoken with Scott since he and his House counterpart, Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, delivered the bad news on his wish list in a Friday evening meeting.
For his part, Scott hasn’t said much publicly, although most around the Capitol expect retaliation in the form of massive vetoes in coming weeks.
Only last week he insisted there was “plenty of money” in the state budget to do his $1 billion plan.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said he had a recent discussion with the governor.
“I talked to the governor on the phone, just briefly,” Crisafulli said. “I’ve always talked to the governor whether we’ve agreed on something or not.”
Crisafulli added, “Certainly, he’s not happy about it. But there’s a reality to all of it.”
Legislative leaders said that when state economists downsized revenue forecasts by $400 million in January, that effectively took Scott’s ambitious tax-cut plan off the table.
The House did come up with an almost $1 billion package of shorter term tax cuts after the revenue numbers changed — but that move seems lost in the fast-moving effort underway now to finalize a state budget deal.
The $400 million tax cut package still alive gets even narrower with House and Senate negotiators including in it $290 million in state funds used to reduce the state’s required property tax rate for schools by 5 percent.
The reduction may save homeowners and businesses some money in the coming year.
But that leaves only $110 million still to be parceled out by Lee and Corcoran. Those cuts are likely to include some sales-tax holidays and, maybe, a Scott priority — the permanent elimination of the sales tax manufacturers pay for equipment purchases, a reduction of $73 million.
“We’re focused now on the long range fiscal outlook of our state,” Lee said.