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Seeking $500 Million Cut, Scott Asks for Lower Taxes on Cell Phone, Satellite and Cable Bills

| January 20, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott is texting his gratitude to the electorate. (Dave Kirkham)

Gov. Rick Scott is texting his gratitude to the electorate. (Dave Kirkham)

Gov. Rick Scott is asking lawmakers to cut taxes on cell-phone bills and cable and satellite television to meet the first half of his re-election campaign’s $1 billion tax-cut pledge.

The proposal, announced Tuesday by Scott, would reduce state tax dollars by a projected $470 million. The governor’s office said it would save about $43 a year for a family that spends $100 a month on cell-phone and cable services, though spending on such services varies widely by household.

“With our cell phone and TV tax cut, every Florida family is saving real money — around $40 a year for spending as little as $100 a month between cell phone, cable and satellite bills,” Scott said in a prepared statement.

Scott’s proposal would reduce what are known as “communications services tax” rates, which are now 9.17 percent on nonresidential landlines, cell phone, and cable services and 13.17 percent on satellite services. The tax has generated about $1.4 billion in annual collections in recent years, according to the Florida Tax Handbook.

Scott was flanked by telecommunications executives while announcing the proposal Tuesday morning at the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce. The proposal got quick praise from business lobbying groups.

“Governor Scott continues to prioritize fostering a business-friendly environment so that our state’s businesses can continue to grow and we continue to attract new and innovative businesses to the state of Florida,” Associated Industries of Florida President & Chief Executive Officer Tom Feeney said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers, who have been noncommittal about how much of the state’s surplus they will devote to Scott’s priorities in the budget for the coming year, called Scott’s proposal “a starting point” as they begin to review tax proposals. A final tax-cut package will be negotiated this spring as lawmakers finalize a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“In my committee, no tax is safe,” House Finance & Tax Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said. “It is the goal of the House of Representatives to find even more ways to decrease the tax burden on Florida’s families.”

Senate Finance and Taxation Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, has pushed similar, though somewhat smaller, measures than what Scott offered.

Hukill, who met with Scott on Monday, said she expects the communications-services tax to be a significant part of any final tax package.

“This is not something that is for a small number of people,” Hukill said. “We have almost as many cell phones as we have citizens in the state of Florida.”

House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, and Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said Tuesday they had not yet reviewed Scott’s proposal.

Scott made cutting taxes and fees a focus of his two successful election campaigns and his first term in office. Scott and lawmakers last year made about $500 million in cuts, with much of that going to reducing vehicle-registration fees.

The Republican governor touted the fee cuts during last year’s campaign and pledged to make about $1 billion in tax cuts during the next two years.

At campaign stops, Scott maintained support for a number of sales-tax shopping holidays, along with touting plans to cut the communications-services tax, eliminate a manufacturing sales tax, phase out the corporate-income tax and a sales tax on commercial leases and enact a constitutional amendment that would prevent residential property taxes from being increased when home values don’t go up.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “Seeking $500 Million Cut, Scott Asks for Lower Taxes on Cell Phone, Satellite and Cable Bills”

  1. tulip says:

    woweee, a savings of about $40 a year? Divide that by 12 months—what a joke.

  2. Sherry Epley says:

    Leave the $40 a year. . . . and give us better “public” education so that future generations can be competitive in a global marketplace, and better public transportation, so that our “at risk” elderly citizens aren’t forced behind the wheel of a car to get to church or their doctor’s appointments!!!!!

  3. Lancer says:

    Good for Scott! There is no end to the government’s greed for people’s hard earned money.

    No matter what a politician, particularly do-gooder democrats, tell you what a government program is for, “the Children, working Americans, the poor” blah, blah…one thing stays the same: higher taxes and more government spending.

    The taxes go to government…who have put our country $18+ trillion in debt, have made a disaster of foreign policy, have not lowered poverty a single percentage point in almost 50 years, have made a disaster of our economy, etc, etc. because of their “only government” schemes and policies.

    More government =’s less freedom

    • Outsider says:

      Absolutely! I’m so sick of hearing “It’s only 40 dollars a year; it’s only half a million dollars; it’s only a trillion.” When will it stop? We are already $8 trillion more in debt than when Obama took office, the effects of which the financially ignorant populace won’t feel or comprehend until long after President Bozo the Clown has left office. They will blame whoever is in power at the time, (assuming it’s not a Democrat,) their own ignorance of the effects of of inflation, rising interest rates and debt will insulate themselves from any responsibility whatsoever. The only way to stop the government from wasting trillions of dollars is to make sure they don’t get their hands on it in the first place. Some sane people realize this, Rick Scott included.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Now just where have I heard that before? Oh yea, now I remember:

  4. Freddy says:

    Some people are never happy. Raise taxes $40 and they complain, lower taxes $40 they complain.

  5. Obama 2014 says:

    Keep my $40.00 a year. I can afford to have the state keep the $3.34 cents a month. Just keep the teachers, fire and police paid and my beaches and parks free.

  6. Sherry Epley says:

    Not to confuse the FOX lovers with actual FACTS about the deficit, this from US News:

    The federal government ran a deficit of $486 billion in 2014 – the smallest deficit recorded since 2008, according to preliminary projections from the Congressional Budget Office released Wednesday. Last year the deficit was $680 billion, or $195 billion more than the current projection. The deficit is the size of about 2.8 percent of the economy, a size slightly below the average over the past four decades.

    [OPINION: Budget Deficits Are Dropping By Trillions of Dollars]

    The primary reason: The government took in about 9 percent more money in 2014 than in 2013 and spent only about 1 percent more this year compared with last. The bulk of the revenues came from individual income and payroll taxes, corporate income taxes and receipts from the Federal Reserve.
    The deficit has shrunk as a percent of gross domestic product for five years now and has steadily diminished since reaching its largest of $1.4 trillion in 2009, on the heels of the financial crisis. The improvement flies in the face of Republican arguments that entitlement spending under Obama has been unrestrained and unsustainable.

    “Spending has been more controlled in the last few years than perhaps ever. We had very strong spending control in the 90s, but we weren’t actually clamping down as hard on spending as Congress is now,” says Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

  7. Michelle says:

    So I haven’t had a raise in pay in 6 years, and my pay was cut when I had to pay into my retirement fund and now I get 47 dollars off my phone bill. Feeling richer already…

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