Familiar Priorities In Scott State of the State: Tax Cuts and Spending on Business Incentives
FlaglerLive | January 12, 2016
In a narrowly-tailored speech focused on his two main priorities, Gov. Rick Scott used his State of the State address Tuesday to push lawmakers to adopt $1 billion in tax cuts and boost economic-development incentives.
Scott, who told lawmakers during the first day of the legislative session that he wanted accomplishments of “lasting significance,” highlighted what he said were the successes of his administration in helping create 1 million new jobs since he took office in 2011.
The governor’s office also announced that Scott would visit Orlando, Tampa and Sunrise on Wednesday on the first leg of his “Million Miles for a Million Jobs” bus tour.
“The state of Florida is, in one word, growing,” Scott said. “Together, we have completely turned our economy around and more families are thriving here today than five years ago…But we cannot let up.”
The governor has essentially staked his legislative session on the success of two initiatives: The tax cut and devoting $250 million to a new “Florida Enterprise Fund” to help lure employers to the Sunshine State. While hammering away at those two topics in his address, the governor gave short shrift to other proposals, including an increase in education spending to record levels and measures he says would curb “price-gouging” by hospitals.
Scott used the words “job” or “jobs” 31 times in his speech, according to the prepared text, and “tax” or “taxes” another 19 times. By contrast, he used the word “education” twice.
The governor also took time to focus on the threat of the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS. The group and its sympathizers have been blamed for bloody attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.
“No one can dispute that ISIS is evil,” said Scott, who is rumored to be interested in running for U.S. Senate in 2018. “Our next president must make it their mission to immediately eliminate the threat of ISIS to the United States of America.”
Scott did not propose any new policies for confronting the group.
Democrats hammered Scott’s focus on tax cuts and business incentives. Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said Scott’s wealthy allies have “the best governor money can buy,” even as the governor ignores other problems.
“He’s fond of helping his Florida,” Joyner said in response to the address. “But he’d rather forget the other one.”
House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, suggested that political maneuvering shaped Scott’s remarks.
“Maybe was this was his vie for vice president under Donald Trump, I don’t know,” Pafford said. “But it was a real waste of time.”
Republicans, though, defended the governor’s focused agenda after a series of special legislative sessions in 2015 that featured grinding conflicts between the House and Senate. Counting the regular session, lawmakers met four times last year, and finished their main task in just one of those gatherings.
Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, said Scott’s approach would give lawmakers “flexibility” in dealing with issues confronting the state.
“I think that there was probably a strategy to it because of the fact that we’re coming off a rough session and, going into this session, having some narrow goals to try to get to I think was a good move,” Diaz said.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican in line to become the Senate president after the 2018 elections, said the focus on jobs was nothing new for Scott, who ran for office six years ago promising an economic turnaround.
“To his credit, he’s maintained the same message his entire tenure as governor and during his campaign as well,” Galvano said. “We do have many more issues that need to be addressed other than simply addressing tax cuts.”
Galvano said he was surprised that Scott didn’t mention a proposed extension of a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe that would bring the state an additional $3 billion over seven years.
Scott’s lobbying on his main priorities might be paying off.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said Tuesday his chamber would try to meet the governor’s goal of $1 billion in tax cuts.
However, the speaker also indicated that lawmakers instead might focus more on one-time tax cuts, to avoid weakening the state’s revenue picture in future years. Legislative leaders have expressed concern that providing too many tax cuts that continue year after year could create shortfalls down the road.
“We obviously have a lot of commitments, whether it be education or other issues in the state that we obviously have to make sure that we take care of, but at the end of the day, a $1 billion total number is what we have in mind,” Crisafulli told reporters.
–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida
The full text of Gov. Scott’s State of the State address, as prepared for delivery:
Good morning Speaker Crisafulli, President Gardiner and members of the Florida Legislature. Welcome Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera. I would also like to welcome: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, Chief Justice Labarga and members of the Florida Supreme Court.
I would like to recognize my amazing wife, Ann. She is the love of my life and my best friend. We are blessed with two wonderful daughters and four energetic grandsons. We will celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary this year.
Today marks my 262nd week in office as the Governor of the Great State of Florida, and I have had a lot of time to reflect over the past 5 years. Judging by earthly standards, Ann and I have had a good bit of success in our lives. But as I reflect on that, I realize that our time on earth is fleeting, and I am unable to do anything of lasting significance without the grace of God. I know our work that is eternal is the time we spend investing in other people – our families, for sure…But, we also do work of lasting significance when we invest in the lives of our friends and our neighbors.
I ran for Governor to help my neighbors – all 20 million of them across our great state. There are some who believe that the very best way to help people is for government to give them money. And the truth is, for those in dire need, we need to provide a safety net. With your help, we have invested Florida taxpayer dollars to make a lasting difference in the lives of Florida families.
For the first time ever, we completely funded the critical needs waiting list so persons with unique abilities can get the help they need. We made a record high investment in our education system so every child can have the opportunity to pursue their American dream. And just this year, we started a pilot program to better serve individuals who suffer with substance abuse and mental illness. These are two issues that have affected my family and many other families in our state. But, government assistance must be the very last resort, not the first. Government does not create prosperity, and it never has. Top down mandates from big government are artificial and not sustainable.
Real prosperity is created by the ingenuity and hard work of the American people. The people of Florida have proven that when they are unfettered by the artificial constraints of government, they are the ones who create real and genuine prosperity for their families. Prosperity that is created naturally, not from the top down, but rather from the bottom up. Floridians want the opportunity to live their dreams. Therefore, I believe that the best way to help our weakest, our poorest, and our most disadvantaged neighbors live their dreams is to help them get a job.
A job is the number one way to change any person’s life for the better …and today, I am proud to report to you that the State of Florida is, in one word, “growing!” Thanks to the hard-working people in our state, over one million jobs have been created in just five years since I took office. One million jobs. Now that is something for Floridians to brag about! One million jobs. Wow!
One of these amazing job creators growing our state from the bottom up is with us today. Please help me welcome the founder and CEO of Gladiator Lacrosse, Rachel Zietz from Boca Raton. Rachel is just 15 years old and she started her company when she was 13. Like any competitive athlete, Rachel said she wanted to practice lacrosse as much as possible, but she found the quality of her gear wasn’t holding up. Every few months she was purchasing more equipment…and she said it was getting expensive.
Rachel decided to do something about it and she created her own line of lacrosse gear to meet her standards. Between school, homework and lacrosse practice, Rachel now runs her own online company, which had over $ 1 million in revenue in just two years. Even more impressive, this young small business owner now has three employees that help her out while she is in class. Rachel, thank you for helping to make Florida first for jobs. We know you are just starting your success!
While, I am pleased to report to you today that the State of Florida is growing, I must confess that our work has just begun. Now, we face the mighty task of keeping job creation going strong. Now, we must set our sights even higher to make sure we do not fall back. Now, we must be dedicated to making Florida not second to Texas, but, first in the nation for job growth for years to come! Our goals are mighty, our challenge is clear. We have two objectives:
First, we must keep doing what’s worked the last five years to help Floridians get a job and live their dreams and keep cutting taxes! Second, we must diversify our economy and help small businesses grow by creating a new $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund, which has already been endorsed by mayors and city leaders all across our state.
With record state revenues, we have the opportunity to diversify our economy and help our small businesses grow by cutting taxes by $1 billion dollars. I’ve never heard of a businessperson who wanted to grow a smaller business. If we put more money in their pockets, they will spend it on research, new equipment and hiring to create more jobs.
Ann and I started our first business in Kansas City. When I was just 22 years old, I had gotten off of active duty with the US Navy, and Ann and I used $3,500 – all the money we had in savings – to open up a donut shop so my mother could get a job. It is hard work to start a business. It is risky. It is scary. I still remember it like it was yesterday.
That’s why I am asking for your support this legislative session for our first for jobs $1 Billion Tax Cut Package to cut costs for the manufacturers, the innovators and the entrepreneurs in our state who take the risks that make our economy grow and create good paying jobs. A tax cut package of $1 billion may seem like a high number, but let me put a face to this effort by introducing you to Dane Grey. Dane, please stand.
Dane is the CEO of Elite Parking Services in Jacksonville. In college, Dane began a valet parking service to make extra money. Little did he know that his dorm room business would turn into a company with 360 employees and locations all across the country before he turned 30 years old! Dane said he now plans to add around 100 new Florida employees over the next year. Our first for jobs tax cut package will cut the commercial lease tax Dane pays today and help him keep more money to reinvest in the company he worked so hard to create. Dane, thank you for helping to make Florida first for jobs.
I also want to introduce you to Isaac Lidsky, CEO of ODC Construction in Orlando. Isaac is blind but his degenerative eye disease never stopped him from accomplishing his dreams. Isaac graduated from Harvard Law School and was the first blind U.S. Supreme Court law clerk. His entrepreneurial spirit brought him to Florida in 2011 when he took a chance and used his families’ life savings to buy ODC Construction.
ODC built more than 2,000 homes in Florida last year and employs more than 300 men and women…And I am excited to announce that they have built a brand new headquarters in Orlando and will be cutting the ribbon on it very soon! For the past four years, ODC has had commercial leases on their buildings in Orlando and Tampa, which was costing over $14,000 a year in taxes. Isaac is here today in support of reducing the commercial lease tax on businesses to make it easier for entrepreneurs in Florida to start and grow a business and create more jobs.
We know that the commercial lease tax unfairly targets small and large businesses across our state. And, under the first for jobs tax cut package, we will begin the fight to do away with this unfair tax!
Now, cutting taxes alone will not be enough to diversify our economy and allow Florida to become first for jobs. That is why we are asking for your support to reform our business incentive process at Enterprise Florida to create the new Florida Enterprise Fund. The creation of this new $250 million dedicated trust fund will help us diversify Florida’s economy, support small business, and become the number one place in the world for families to get a good paying job.
Please help me welcome just a few of the mayors who have supported our proposal to create the new $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund who are here with us today:
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn
Ft. Myers Mayor Randy Henderson
Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward
Thank you all for your support. Enterprise Florida has helped many businesses move and expand to create jobs in Florida. I want to share just one story today.
Last year, I met with 1st Choice Aerospace on a trade mission to Kentucky. While I was there, we announced that 1st Choice Aerospace had chosen to expand in Miramar instead of in their home state of Kentucky, which resulted in 45 new Florida jobs. 1st Choice Aerospace picked Florida over Kentucky because of our talented workforce, our low taxes and our strong presence in the aviation industry.
Because we temporarily ended the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment, 1st Choice Aerospace has been able to save money and reinvest it into their business…and that is why we must permanently end the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment this year. If not, it will effectively be a tax increase on small businesses like 1st Choice Aerospace.
We want 1st Choice Aerospace to keep growing and hiring more employees like David Tablada, who is here with us today. Please help me welcome him. David was the first employee 1st Choice Aerospace hired when they expanded in Miramar. David moved to Florida when he was eight years old from Nicaragua so his father could pursue a career in aviation. David worked hard to follow in his father’s footsteps and attended the George T. Baker Aviation Technical College in Miami to get the skills he needed to find a good paying job.
David said he is thankful to work at 1st Choice Aerospace because he can provide for his wife, Ania, and his son, Sebastian. David says his job at 1st Choice Aerospace is allowing him to live his American Dream in Florida and also enables him to give back to his community. As a former law enforcement officer, David is working hard to become a volunteer reserve police officer in Miami Beach. Thank you David for helping to make Florida first for jobs.
Many of you know that my favorite three topics are jobs, jobs, jobs. But, I want to switch gears before I conclude today. In thinking about the eternal significance of our 20 million neighbors all across our state, I have been increasingly focused on their safety over the past few months.
The hate-filled, cold-blooded events of recent months make it clear that we live in a fallen world, where terror sometimes reigns and evil seems unbridled. We’ve seen people at a concert ruthlessly murdered in Paris, health care workers massacred in San Bernardino and a Floridian, Steven Sotloff, beheaded by the hands of ISIS just months before.
No one can dispute that ISIS is evil. Our next president must make it their mission to immediately eliminate the threat of ISIS to the United States of America. As a proud US Navy veteran, I have found it even more important over the last few months to stop and honor those who serve to keep our nation safe from harm – at home and abroad.
One of these service members is here with us today…. Please help me thank Captain Brian McDowell, an Active Guard Reserve member of the Florida National Guard who is currently serving in the 3rd Battalion of the 20th Special Forces Group out of Camp Blanding. He began his military career in 2000 and has been deployed multiple times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. While deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, Brian received the Purple Heart after sustaining significant shrapnel and burn injuries to his entire body from an IED explosion. After spending six months in the hospital overcoming life threatening injuries, he fought hard to be able to return to work with his fellow guardsmen.
I would like to welcome Captain McDowell and his wife Ana, who is also an Active Guard Reserve Member of the Florida National Guard, here today. Please stand. As we honor Captain McDowell and his wife Anna, will every active service member, every veteran and every first responder in the Chamber today please also stand so we can thank you for your service.
In closing, let me say again what I will say all across the state on my bus tour that starts tomorrow – the State of Florida is in one word: growing! We have completely turned our economy around and more families are thriving here today than five years ago. Florida recently surpassed 20 million residents and we are adding more than 1,000 new residents per day – growing faster than California and New York! Florida has added more than one million jobs.
But, we cannot let up. Our $1 billion tax cut package and the creation of the Florida Enterprise Fund will be key elements to make Florida first for jobs in the nation for years to come.
Let’s work together to diversify our economy and help our weakest, our poorest and our most disadvantaged get a job, even when times are tough across the nation. Let’s work together to cut taxes to help families working hard to live their dream in Florida. Let’s work together to help every small business owner who is risking their life savings to succeed here in Florida. Let’s work together to support the next young entrepreneur – like Rachel, Dane and Isaac – building the next great idea here in Florida. Let’s work together to make sure Florida continues to have a world-class education system.
Let’s keep working together to make a lasting legacy in the lives of people all across our great state. Let’s make Florida first for jobs together. God Bless each of you and God bless the Great State of Florida. Thank you.