Published on Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Florida TaxWatch Applauds Governor Scott’s Call to Cut Business Rent Tax, Fund Incentive and Tourism Programs
Statement from Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro released the following statement in response to Governor Rick Scott’s State of the State Address earlier today:
Governor Scott's address today stressed what he, Florida TaxWatch and others have been saying for years - we need great jobs and a strong economy in order to make Florida the top state in the country to do business, grow a family and vacation. To do this, he said, we must cut the Business Rent Tax (BRT), fund targeted economic incentive programs and continue to market Florida as the nation's premier tourist destination.
Cutting the BRT, the only state-levied tax on commercial leases in the entire country, has been a long-time TaxWatch recommendation and we are glad that the Governor continues to call for this cut. While the last few sessions have proved disappointing, cutting this burdensome tax on Florida businesses should be a major priority for the Legislature. Doing so would allow small businesses to flourish and make Florida more enticing for businesses to move their operations and high-wage jobs here.
When it comes to incentives, our research has been clear - Florida's incentive programs, when appropriately targeted, are vital in the economic growth of Florida and critical in diversifying the economy. If we slash our incentive programs, Florida is put at an economic disadvantage, allowing other states to snatch up businesses, slowing growth and resulting in the loss of state revenue and high-wage jobs for hard-working Floridians.
Additionally, we must continue to fund tourism marketing. Florida's tourism industry remains one of the top job creators in the state and drives a significant portion of the economy. Thankfully, legislators have scaled back their call to completely dismantle VISIT FLORIDA and instead filed legislation to implement accountability and transparency measures that Florida TaxWatch supports.
However, that same legislation hampers VISIT FLORIDA's ability to do their job. It scales back funding, which is critical to marketing our beautiful state. Like the Governor said in his address, companies do not stop advertising once they become successful. They keep going in order to reach the top of their industry. We must continue to properly fund our tourism programs or we risk the same outcome as cutting incentives.
We have roared back from the Great Recession but we cannot afford to slam the brakes on that success through cuts to critical programs that create jobs and grow the economy. It is imperative that we cut the BRT and continue to fund incentive and tourism programs. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature in accomplishing these goals to keep our state moving forward, ensuring it remains the greatest state in the nation to work, live and play.
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