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Backroom Briefing: Democrats Offer a Different Take

March 8, 2019 - 10:30am
Kionne McGhee
Kionne McGhee

House Democrats have limited power to get priorities in the state budget, but they released a spending plan this week that they said focuses on working Floridians.

Called the “New Sunshine Deal,” the plan seeks a tax-rebate program for working families, expansion of Medicaid, a 13 percent pay raise for teachers and fully funded affordable-housing programs.

Democrats, who are far outnumbered by Republicans in the House, intend to introduce aspects of the plan as proposed amendments throughout the 60-day legislative session, which started Tuesday.

“What I believe is that we have 58 days, what I also heard yesterday was a governor who is open to solutions, and I also believe there are members of this legislative body who are willing to push Florida forward,” House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, said as the plan was released Wednesday.

McGhee, borrowing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mantra, repeatedly called the House Democratic proposals “bold.”

The Democrats’ plan used as a base DeSantis’ proposed $91.3 billion spending plan and projected revenue figures for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The plan also estimated generating an additional $1.8 billion by taxing online sales, altering the tax code to capture from large corporations taxes that smaller businesses pay and eliminating a series of 18 sales-tax exemptions.

The proposal matches DeSantis’ call for a three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday and a one-week disaster-preparedness tax holiday.

The measure also seeks to provide a cut in the sales tax on commercial leases, which has long been a red-meat item for business groups.

House Ways & Means Chairman Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs, said Wednesday his committee is reviewing past tax packages and will begin putting together a proposal after budget allocations are made by House leaders.



With daylight saving time starting Sunday, Florida’s push for year-round daylight saving time is back for round two in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, all Florida Republicans, introduced the Sunshine Protection Act that seeks to make daylight saving time permanent across the country.

The bill follows a 2018 Florida legislative effort to have year-round daylight saving time, with such a change requiring federal approval.

A news release from Rubio and Buchanan touted the change as having health and economic benefits for the nation and said “the bill would simply negate the need for Americans to change their clocks twice a year.”

A similar proposal failed to advance in 2018 in Washington. Since that time, a few other states, including California, have started to advance similar resolutions to what came out of the Florida Legislature in 2018.

“Reflecting the will of the state of Florida, I’m proud to reintroduce this bill to also make daylight saving time permanent nationally,” Rubio said in a prepared statement Wednesday.



Florida isn’t going to hand out incentives to lure the e-commerce giant Amazon to the Sunshine State.

But DeSantis is still interested in attracting Amazon after it scrapped plans for a headquarters project in New York.

“I’m not somebody that’s going to try to bribe them, but I think what we offer in terms of a good economic climate, low taxes and really a strong emphasis on talent and human capital, I think it’s a great place,” DeSantis told reporters after giving his State of the State address on Tuesday.

“Why would you not want $150,000-a-year jobs, that would be huge for any community that it went to,” he continued.

DeSantis and other Florida leaders have stressed tax and regulation disparities between Florida and New York.

DeSantis went to New York last week to woo financial firms, with his office sending out a news release that said “our posture here is one of welcoming, not one of demagoguery and prejudice.”

“I want companies and institutions in the financial and banking sector, including commercial banks, investment banks, hedge funds, FinTech and international financial institutions to know that Florida is a place where businesses can do well without having to face some of the political hostility that they deal with in other parts of the country,” the statement from his office said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office didn’t sound too concerned about the plundering effort by DeSantis.

“Florida may have warmer weather, but here in New York we have better schools, a higher skilled workforce, more Fortune 500 companies than any other state, and a high-tech sector that has been growing by 15,000 jobs a year,” a spokesman for Cuomo told the New York Post.

Cuomo, meanwhile, has been leading an effort trying to keep the Amazon deal alive for his state.


TWEET OF THE WEEK: “Florida has been yelling ‘get off my lawn’ at the rest of the country for 174 years and counting. Happy Birthday#Florida.” --- Democratic consultant Eric Jotkoff (@Eric_Jotkoff).


Go, go, go, Dems! Thirteen percent raise for teachers is a good starting point ... and how about a 'sales tax' on new houses, villas, condos, etc.?

$150,000 a year jobs! Wow. That's great. So how many employees of Amazon actually make that amount. 5? 10? MAYBE 25. The rest? Well if you come to Florida, say hello to $8.25 an hour. Even if you put it in Miami or Tampa. What a joke. Desantis' plan sounds great. On Paper. But Florida's smaller cities, that are beckoning for big time corporate headquarters to move there, are just sitting and hoping. When these cities throw ALL their money at tourism, this is what we get. A see saw budget game. When tourism is good? Our budget is good. Bad? and all of Florida suffers. Specially the medium and smaller cities.

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