Anti-union language stays in Rick Scott tax breaks for nowby Dara Kam | February 15th, 2012
Florida businesses could save more than $100 million in taxes next year and shoppers would get another “tax-free” holiday under measures now on their way to the Florida Senate.
The House approved Gov. Rick Scott’s corporate tax break package (HB 7087) with a 92-22 vote that garnered support from more than a dozen Democrats despite concern from others that an anti-union component adopted late yesterday is unconstitutional.
The $121.1 million-a-year tax break plan would double the corporate tax exemption from $25,000 to $50,000. The new exemption would allow more than 3,500 small businesses to stop paying corporate income taxes altogether.
The tax plan also boosts tax credits for business investments in low-income communities and expands tax breaks for agriculture, industrial machinery, aircrafts and the entertainment industry.
Late yesterday, House GOP leaders amended the bill to require businesses that receive the tax credits to certify that they do not employ union workers. The anti-union language was tacked on in retaliation after Democrats tried to modify the bill to limit who would get the tax breaks.
The union restrictions make the bill unconstitutional, argued some Democrats during debate Wednesday afternoon.
But bill sponsor Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, said that shouldn’t make any difference.
“Yeah, there may be a judge somewhere who disagrees about whether or not it’s constitutional,” Precourt said. “So you’re just going to let some judge who might call it on you later on stop you from helping Floridians in some way?”
The House also unanimously approved a popular three-day sales tax holiday (HB 737) Aug. 3-5. The tax-free long weekend is estimated to cost the state and local governments about $31.8 million.