House reduces motorist tax cut and creates new clash with Senateby John Kennedy | April 26th, 2013
Already deadlocked on health insurance and a pension overhaul, Florida lawmakers added another bit of tension to the Legislature’s homestretch, with the House budget panel Friday opening the session’s final week by breaking ranks with the Senate on a plan to cut vehicle tag and title fees.
The House Appropriations Committee rejected the Senate’s proposal to eliminate a 26-year-old tax break for the insurance industry to cut $220 million in motorist fees paid by Floridians. The Senate’s plan would erase half the 2009 increases that had been imposed by lawmakers hustling to patch a recession-drive budget hole.
Instead, the House would phase-in the reductions over five years, starting by a modest $44 million cut next year. Drivers would save about $2.40 next year on vehicle registrations, under the House plan — which leaves the tax credit untouched for the powerful insurance industry.
Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, defended the House stance, saying it was important to not eliminate anything that could hurt job creators in Florida. Since 1987, the insurers have drawn a 15 percent tax credit on the insurance premium tax as an incentive to open offices in Florida.
Senate Budget Chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the industry now looks “robust” and the tax break is no longer needed.