Florida’s economy is booming. With the passage of tax reform and smart regulatory reforms, consumers have more money in their pockets to travel and Florida is a prime location. In fact, Florida tourism numbers reached a record high in the first quarter of 2018 and Florida’s economy recently topped $1 trillion. However, recent legislation co-sponsored by our own Republican Rep. Francis Rooney would hike all Americans’ gas prices and jeopardize Florida’s economy.
The legislation, introduced by Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, would replace the existing federal gas tax with a carbon tax. Immediately, gas prices would rise by 5 cents per gallon for all consumers and continue to increase. Electricity costs for families would also increase by an estimated $275 in 2020, according to the bill’s proponents.
Under the Trump Administration’s “All of the Above” energy policy, Floridians’ energy costs have dropped. The Curbelo-Rooney bill would reverse this progress and force Florida’s businesses and families to pay more for the energy they rely on. The bill would also create a Border Adjustment Tax on imported goods, which would create higher prices for a number of household products that we use every day.
Improving the environment is a novel goal for our lawmakers, but the Curbelo-Rooney bill offers little to no environmental benefit. With the bill’s stated goal of a 30 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures would be approximately reduced by .003 degrees by the end of the century. Is a damaged economy and decreased quality of life for Floridians worth it?
Additionally, the carbon tax would give unprecedented regulatory authority to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nineteen American manufacturing sectors, responsible for thousands of Florida jobs, would initially be subject to the carbon tax, but the EPA would have the power to determine which additional manufacturers are subject to the tax going forward. Seventy percent of revenue from the tax would be funneled into the Highway Trust Fund and the remaining revenue would go toward various government programs. This means the federal government would determine where your hard-earned money is invested… and it likely won’t be allocated back into our local community.
The carbon tax bill also establishes a moratorium on enforcing certain greenhouse gas emission regulations established under the Clean Air Act, but the moratorium expires in 2033 and will almost certainly be replaced by new regulations on emissions. Regulatory uncertainty like this is devastating to American businesses and manufacturers. After tax reform was passed, companies across Florida announced plans for expansion, new hires, facility improvements and wage increases, but regulatory uncertainty around additional unexpected costs would cause all of this economic investment to come to a screeching halt.
Rep. Rooney has traditionally supported pro-business policies, like tax reform, that have had immediate and positive impacts on the lives of hard-working Floridians. Unfortunately, this legislation would have the opposite impact, as the purpose of a carbon tax is to make energy that we all rely on, such as gas, diesel, coal and natural gas, more expensive.
Why Rep. Rooney would support a carbon tax that creates more taxes, more regulations and more government bureaucracy is perplexing to say the least. Rep. Rooney should withdraw his support for the carbon tax legislation and get back to working on policies that will improve the lives of hard working Floridians.
Barney Bishop III, president & CEO of Barney Bishop Consulting, LLC in Tallahassee. He’s also the immediate past president & CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, and a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. He can be reached at Barney@BarneyBishop.com