- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who tried unsuccessfully during his first term to dramatically cut back taxes for the state’s businesses and corporations, is now pushing for tax cuts aimed directly at consumers instead.

Last year Scott targeted rolling back fees charged on auto tags. On Tuesday, Scott rolled out his latest idea: A nearly $500 million cut in the taxes that Floridians pay on various communications services including cable television, cellphones and traditional phone lines.

The Scott administration estimates that the 3.6 percent tax cut would save the average Floridian more than $40 a year of what Scott calls “real money.”

“Our economy is improving and while it’s tempting for government to always think they can spend your money better than you - it’s your money,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott promised a cut in the communications services tax during his re-election campaign last fall, but he released additional details during a visit to a Central Florida business group.

The Republican governor is pledging to cut overall taxes by more than $1 billion over the next two years. Scott back in 2010 promised to eliminate the state’s corporate income tax within seven years, but he has been forced to back away from that promise amid ongoing resistance from the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature.

Scott’s tax-cutting proposals are coming at a time when state legislators are expected to have a budget windfall of roughly $1 billion even after paying for increased school enrollment and setting aside money for reserves.

But Scott has also promised to increase per-student funding in the state’s public schools. There will likely be a push to boost spending on the state’s prison system, which has come under scrutiny for the deaths of dozens of inmates, as well as demands for additional tax cuts and additional spending on environmental programs.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee, called Scott’s proposal a “starting point.” Gaetz, however, contended that it would be the goal of the House to “find even more ways to decrease the tax burden on Florida’s families.”

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