Jacksonville, FL - Well more than the $500 million in tax and fee cuts promised by Florida Governor Rick Scott will formally go in to the hands of state lawmakers Tuesday, with the start of the 2014 legislative session.
But could these proposals to give more money back to you while seeing a slightly smaller state budget overall and a still healthy reserve, truly be that simple?
“When we’re turning it back to the taxpayers and yet finding innovative ways to do the same or better services with less taxpayer dollars, that’s a positive thing for everyone,” says Florida TaxWatch Chief Research Officer and General Counsel Robert Weissert.
Weissert tells me TaxWatch- a nonpartisan watchdog in Florida- has vetted all the Governor’s proposal, and is in support of anything that is going to give more money back to you in a sensible way.
“Little savings here and little savings there can certainly add up to a lot of money,” he says.
But just as prominent as some of the proposals on the table, are ones that are missing. Weissert says the Governor missed an important opportunity by not looking to roll back the Communication Services tax, which shows up on your cell phone bill.
“That’s one tax where we’re way higher than our sister states,” he says.
Among the Roughly $570 million in recurring cuts put forward by Scott are some which would have an immediate impact on you, like a rollback of auto fees which would cut your next car registration bill or an extended sales tax shopping holiday. Other proposals more immediately affect businesses, like a reduced sales tax on commercial leases.
Ultimately, Weissert says this is just the beginning of the process, giving lawmakers a foundation to work from. He believes that some, but not all, the tax cuts proposals will be approved.
There are still further efficiencies that can be found though, according to TaxWatch. Weissert says Florida needs to examine an information technology governance structure including a Chief Information Officer. He says Florida is one of the largest budget states to not include this kind of oversight, and it could mean missed opportunities for finding cost-saving efficiencies.