In a session many predicted would be consumed by redistricting and budget debate, Florida legislators still tackled the crucial issues of jobs and economic growth.
From major corporations to small mom-and-pop shops, businesses received breaks on taxes and regulations as lawmakers battled to restore Florida’s economy and promote business growth.
Some fretted that paying less now means higher bills later, while others sought proof that tax breaks actually mean more jobs. But most lawmakers agreed with former healthcare executive Gov. Rick Scott, saying they needed to help businesses battling for survival now, as well as attract new businesses to Florida for economic stability. No new taxes or fees were passed this session. Full text and votes can be found by visiting legislative websites and typing in the bill number: myfloridahouse.gov and flsenate.gov.
Development Tax Refund program
A comprehensive package with numerous measures to help stimulate job growth and encourage economic growth for existing businesses as well as attract more in the future. It offers tax refunds to businesses that create high-paying jobs, along with refunds for space contractors and businesses involved with space flight.(HB 7069)
With little more than a day to go, lawmakers approved this measure that was a major priority of the business lobby. The bill reduces the minimum unemployment compensation tax from the $171 per employee that was slated to take effect this year to $121, bringing savings of about $800 million over three years. It also renames Florida’s unemployment compensation program to “Re–employment Assistance.” The bill also lowers the wage base from $8,500 to $8,000, and extends the recoupment period from three to five years. (HB 7027)
Gov. Rick Scott made this motor vehicle Personal Injury Protection issue a top priority. Negotiations on the matter went into the final hours of session, with a corps of lobbyists involved from insurance, medical and legal interests. The bill aims to lower high insurance rates blamed on widespread fraud; measures to do so include limiting plaintiffs’ attorney fees and time limits of less than a month on how long injured people can wait before seeking medical help. (HB 119)
Sales tax back-to-school holiday
For three days, Aug. 3-5, certain clothes (uniforms, school clothes) that cost less than $75, and school supplies that cost less than $15, will be exempt from Florida’s 6 percent sales tax. Retailers support the move, saying the tax holiday brings out shoppers and drives up overall sales. (SB 982)
Increases Florida’s corporate tax exemption from $25,000 to $50,000, taking about 4,000 more businesses off the tax rolls; provides other breaks, including $56 million for manufacturing equipment and about $12 million for private planes, all measures to encourage reliable industry jobs. (HB 7087)