Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a $180 million plan to cut taxes as part of a plan he says will help Florida families, his office announced Monday.
Parts of Scott’s proposal includes four sales tax holidays, one of which would cut sales taxes for 10-days before the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Included in the holiday would be clothing, electronics and school supplies.
Another sales tax holiday would also be held for hurricane preparedness items.
Scott’s office estimates the two holidays would save the state a combined $88 million -- $75 million from the back-to-school holiday and another $15 million from the hurricane preparedness tax holiday.
Florida is one of 16 states to offer back-to-school sales tax holidays. The state has frequently coupled it with other tax holidays throughout the years, and the back-to-school sales-tax holiday has been one of the more popular tax holidays over the last two decades.
Florida has offered the holiday most years since 1998, often at varying lengths. In 2015, the sales-tax holiday was 10 days long, but lawmakers settled on a shorter holiday this year.
Scott is also proposing slashing some fees for Florida driver’s licenses, pushing to decrease the price for renewals from $48 to $20.
Scott will also urge lawmakers to lower the fees for original driver’s licenses from $48 to $27. Commercial driver’s license fees would also be reduced from $75 to $67 under Scott’s proposal.
Scott, who leaves office next year, has frequently touted tax cuts as a signature part of his two-time term as governor. The governor credited tax cuts as one of the reasons why Florida’s economy has soared throughout the last seven years, with the unemployment rate decreasing from 11.5 percent in 2010 to 3.8 percent in 2017.
“All of this was accomplished while cutting taxes more than 75 times, saving more than $7.5 billion for Florida families and job creators,” Scott said. “Cutting taxes works and the rest of the nation needs to follow Florida’s lead.”
Scott already has an ally in his tax cut holiday proposal -- last week, Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, filed a bill for a 10-day back-to-school holiday next year.
If passed, Perry’s legislation would provide tax breaks on clothing and shoes up to $100 per item. School supplies costing $15 or less will also be tax-free and technology items like computers and accessories costing at least $1,000 would be tax-free as well.
The tax holiday would run from July 27 to Aug. 5, 2018.
The numbers would be an increase from this year’s sales tax holiday, which offered tax breaks on clothing and shoes up to $60 per item. Computers and technology accessories costing $750 were also eligible for the tax break.
Books valued $50 or less were, at one point, exempted from the tax holiday this year, but were part of the tax break this year.
Monday's announcement is the smallest tax cut package Scott has made since taking office and comes ahead of what will undoubtedly be a legislative session of extreme bargaining as Florida grapples with a tight budget. Florida was expected to have a slight surplus heading into 2018, but Hurricane Irma threw a wrench into next year's budget and the state now has to pay out $600 million in expenses related to the storm.
Scott intends to propose the tax cuts during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.
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