Florida Politics

Florida House speaker tells Gov. Rick Scott, Senate: ‘Hell, no’ on tax increase

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, has two simple words for Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Senate on taxes and spending: “Hell, no.”

Corcoran told the Herald/Times on Wednesday that he won’t compromise on the question of whether the Legislature should write a budget that includes nearly $500 million more in local property taxes from Florida homeowners in order to hit Scott’s target of a spending increase for K-12 schools under a program known as “required local effort.”

Scott and Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, don’t consider that a tax increase because the property-tax rate would stay the same. The extra money would come from rising property values paid by homeowners and businesses.

Corcoran pointed out that on the same issue last year, Scott and senators both took the opposite position and took credit for a tax cut by rolling back the required local effort tax rate so that the amount of revenue collected for schools did not increase. (State tax revenue made up the difference, and if that’s the case again this year, Scott can kiss his proposed package of $618 million “goodbye.”)

Politifact covered this ground in detail and included the chart released by Scott’s office in which he included $428 million in “property-tax reduction.”

“The governor has in his budget a $450 million-plus property-tax increase,” Corcoran told the Herald/Times. “That’s a ‘hell, no.’ That’s a ‘hell, no.’ We’re not raising property taxes to fund government waste. We’re not raising taxes on property owners to give it to business owners. It’s a non-starter. It’s nonsensical.”

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz responded to Corcoran’s statement: “The governor has been very clear that he wants to cut any tax or fee possible. It’s a shame that some don’t understand that it’s a good thing when property values rise.”

Schutz noted that Scott told reporters and editors at an AP event on Jan. 31 that Scott counted last year’s decision as a tax cut because the property tax rate was reduced.