Scott’s repeated call to phase out Florida’s corporate income tax was ignored by the Legislature in 2013.
House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale issued a statement after Scott’s speech saying he was carefully monitoring the Republican talk of revisiting “drastic tax and fee hikes they imposed in recent years on working families and small businesses.”
It’s true the last major tax and fee increase did come under Republicans in 2009 — $2.2 billion, including a $1-a-pack cigarette tax and higher fees on driving licenses and motor vehicle tags. But the Republican governor then was Crist.
Scott’s appearance before the conservative audience echoed his rise from obscurity in 2010 when he ran to the right of Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum in the GOP primary. Though Scott’s delivery was monotone and halting — “He’s like the zombie candidate,” said Edward Lynch, a conservative activist from Wellington — the crowd was receptive as Scott ticked off his job creation efforts, plans to drug test welfare recipients and success in paying off $3.5 billion in state debt.
“Conservative, pro-growth solutions are working in Florida. We have a lot to brag about. Our future is bright, indeed,” Scott said.
But the appearance and Scott’s conservative focus raise questions about his broader campaign strategy. With low approval ratings he’ll need to appeal to the kinds of moderate voters that may be drawn to a candidate such as Crist.
Despite his wide-ranging speech, Scott did not address the touchy issue that has risen to the top of the conservative agenda: the Common Core educational standards. At least three times Scott was interrupted by a woman shouting “Stop Common Core!”
Scott, who has not taken a position on Common Core, smiled and kept on reciting his speech.