When you follow the money in Florida’s new tax plan, you find that those who benefit most were also top contributors to Governor Rick Scott and the state Republican Party.
Gov. Scott signed SB 2142 last month, cutting property tax collections across the state by $210 million. For the average homeowner, writes the Palm Beach Post, the law means a meager savings of $28 on property taxes, and an erosion of “land, water, and flood protections.” But for giants like Walt Disney World, Florida Power & Light, Bell South Telecom, and Universal, it’s a savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars at least.
Is it a huge coincidence that all those companies gave generously to the Florida Republican Party last year?
FPL and Disney could save more than $1 million each on their tax bills for the budget year that begins Oct. 1.
They also were among the Florida Republican Party’s biggest contributors during the 2010 election campaigns, when Scott defeated Democrat Alex Sink and the GOP grabbed unprecedented two-thirds majorities in the state House and Senate.
FPL donated $1.1 million to the state GOP, while Disney contributed $854,364, according to an analysis of contribution records by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
Big Florida companies/donors weren’t the only beneficiaries. The property tax reductions were allocated differently to each of Florida’s water management districts and the biggest target of the tax cuts was the Southwest Florida Water Management District – a 36 percent cut. The Southwest District is also the home of Senator J.D. Alexander (R-Lake Wales), the Senate Budget chairman and close political ally of Gov. Scott’s.
Again, is this a coincidence? House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders, doesn’t think so, commenting “Republicans seemed to find a lot of ways to reward big contributors this session.”
What is indisputable is that Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t have the biggest respect for traditional political rules, or the needs of working class Floridians. One of his first actions in office was to cancel a rail project that his predecessor fought for that would’ve put 10,000 Floridians back to work, and his first legislative session included attacks on voting rights, a disregard for the environment, deep cuts to education, and a leniency towards corporations that even extended to the perpetrators of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that devastated Florida’s economy.
So, are these tax cuts at the expense of education and the environment an example of corrupt political kickbacks to donors, or just another example of Rick Scott’s callousness toward the majority of Florida citizens?
Either way, it’s not good. And no one should have to ask these kinds of questions about their elected officials.