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Senate Republicans want more reserves, talk less about tax cuts

by John Kennedy | September 26th, 2013

Senate Republican leaders downplayed Gov. Rick Scott’s call for $500 million in tax and fee cuts Thursday, saying it’s more important for Florida to have robust budget reserves heading into next year’s elections.

Senate budget chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said lawmakers should first pledge to set aside $1.5 billion in reserves — up from the $1 billion now proposed — before going through the budget and finding cash for other needs.

Negron already wants at least $100 million dedicated to a range of work needed to ease environmental problems stemming from Lake Okeechobee, but he’s not saying ‘no’ to Scott’s election-year tax-and-fee-cut proposal.

“I think that’s a very good marker that the governor has set,” Negron said. “But…to achieve that, we’d have to go through the budget and make reductions and use that money to deploy for those fee-and-tax cuts and other spending.”

The state is expecting an $845.7 million budget surplus next year. But about have the cash is one-time money flowing into the treasury, making it tough to use on cuts that would be a recurring expense, economist Amy Baker told the budget panel.

Scott earlier this month promoted his giveaway plan on a four-day swing across five cities, kicking off the tour in West Palm Beach. Scott hasn’t specified what cuts he’s considering. But the tour gave┬ábusiness leaders a chance to pitch him on a host of ideas, including cutting the state’s sales tax on rental property to lowering utility taxes.

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