Rick Scott unveiled his proposed budget today, and it contains $673 million in tax cuts at a time when the state is sitting on a $1 billion surplus. Interestingly, those cuts would most likely save the middle class some dough by lowering taxes on their cell phone and cable bills, and also gives college students a bit of a break by exempting textbooks from the state sales tax.
Scott wants to lower those cable and cell phone bills by 3.6 percent, which would cost the state about $470 million. If you're paying about $100 a month for those two services, you'd end up saving $3.58 each month, or about $43 year.
Exempting textbooks from sales tax would also see the state forfeiting about $41.4 million in tax revenue each year.
Of course, not every tax cut is aimed at everyday citizens. Scott wants to exempt 2,189 businesses from the corporate income tax, which would cost $18.4 million. The elimination of a tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment would come with a loss of $142.5 million in tax revenue.
However, the Miami Herald notes that some Republican legislators are a bit weary of cutting taxes for cell and cable service because it would eat up such a large chunk of the surplus, and there are other tax cuts they'd prefer to pass. So whether you actually end up getting that $3.58 a month extra in your pocket isn't a foregone conclusion. Scott has tried to pass similar cuts before, but those efforts were stymied in the legislature.
Despite many of the tax cuts directly saving money for average Floridians, Democrats are nonplussed.
"As Rick Scott starts his second term, Floridians are wondering if this governor will do right by them -- or if he will continue to side with big business and the wealthiest special interests," state Democratic chairwoman Allison Taint said in a statement.
She said she'd prefer for the surplus to be spent on things like health care. Interestingly, Scott's plans for health-care spending and medicare expansion remain vague, despite the release of the budget.
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To offset the tax cuts, Scott also proposes reducing the state's public workforce by eliminating 1,353 positions out of the current 114,444.
Scott's budget also makes good on a promise to vastly increase per-student spending in classrooms to $7,176. By dollar amount, that would be the most Florida ever spent per student, but when taking inflation into account, it's still less than the per-student spending during Charlie Crist's term.
Scott also pledged $150 million for Everglades restoration.