TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s outgoing Gov. Rick Scott wants to cut $180 million in taxes and fees during his final year in office, coinciding with his expected campaign for the U.S. Senate.
The Republican governor outlined his proposal Monday at stops in three Florida cities, to be considered during the 2018 legislative session starting in January.
Scott has pushed to cut corporate income taxes as well as taxes charged on commercial rents and purchases by manufacturers throughout his time as governor. Now he’s pivoting directly toward voters by aiming for the pocketbooks of Florida consumers and residents.
“We have a good economy, we have a good budget, we have the revenues to be able to do this,” Scott told reporters after an event in Fort Myers.
Scott wants a 10-day back-to-school tax holiday, removing sales taxes on clothes and school supplies for Florida residents. Three other week-long tax holidays would enable residents to buy storm preparation supplies — like batteries and flashlights — tax-free. That push comes after Hurricane Irma, which ripped across Florida in September, caused billions in damage and at least 70 deaths.
The governor also would cut the cost of renewing a driver’s license from $48 to $20, and reduce the cost of an initial Florida driver’s license as well.
Scott is being forced to leave office next year due to term limits, but there are continued signs that he will mount a campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the lone remaining Democrat elected statewide. Scott will likely tout his handling of Florida’s economy in the aftermath of the Great Recession during the campaign.
The governor’s bid for cuts in taxes and fees — totaling less than a third of what he asked for earlier this year — comes amid the reality of a tight budget year.
Senate President Joe Negron “supports the type of broad-based tax relief outlined in the governor’s tax cut package,” his spokeswoman Katie Betta said. Negron has sponsored bills to reduce motorists’ registration fees, she noted.
But Florida was projected to have only a small surplus heading into next year before it had to pay out more than $600 million in Irma-related expenses. Top legislators have warned they may approve a bare-bones budget, without money for new university and college buildings or traditional hometown projects.