Both Republicans and Democrats are featuring governors at their national nominating conventions. Because convention speakers are chosen as the parties’ ambassadors to new audiences during these TV spectacles, the state policy team at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy are providing short sketches of governors from both parties who have been leaders – for better and for worse – in state tax policy.
We begin with Rick Scott, Governor of Florida (the GOP convention is in Tampa this week) who removed himself from the program and his host duites in order to oversee his state’s response to Tropical Storm Isaac.
Florida Governor Rick Scott: From day one in office, Governor Rick Scott has pursued a strategy of shrinking government. His first budget proposal included enormous cuts to both corporate income taxes and property taxes (which earned him the “Corporate Tax Giveaway King” title in our recent yearbook). Under Scott’s plan, which he unveiled before a tea party rally, the state’s already low corporate tax rate would fall from 5 percent to 3.5 percent. At the same time, state spending would drop by $4.6 billion, with pre-K through university education taking the biggest hit, of $3.1 billion. In his 2012 State of the State address, he called taxes “the great destroyers of capital and time for small businesses.”
Amazingly, though, not even the state’s conservative legislators have seemed interested in Scott’s ultra-conservative ideas and have largely rejected his anti-tax platform over the past two years. Had Scott spoken at the GOP convention, he probably would have touted his “accomplishments” as the leader of the host state and pointed to the Sunshine State’s low taxes as a key to his success. Of course, the money always has to come from somewhere, so while Florida may be a so-called low-tax state, it is actually an extremely high tax state (PDF) for its poorest residents.