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Crist Tax Cut Survives Senate Panel

A centerpiece of Gov. Charlie Crist’s pro-business legislative package was derided Wednesday before managing to clear the usually corporate-friendly Senate Commerce Committee.

Legislation to reduce by 1 percent the 5.5 percent corporate income tax rate was approved by the panel only after Chairman Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, urged fellow senators to see that it is needed to “create jobs and in some cases, save jobs.”

The measure passed 6-3, with only Democrats voting against it. But even some Republican supporters were cool to the idea, which takes $57 million from state coffers.

“When I look at the millions of dollars that we are looking to cut in other budget committees, I just don’t see how this kind of cut for businesses is going to make much of a difference,” said Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, chairman of the Health and Human Service budget panel which is facing potentially deep reductions.

Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, also shrugged at what she said appeared to be a giveaway to businesses at a time fast-growing community colleges are struggling for dollars.

“I don’t think it’ll make much difference to these businesses,” she said.

The legislation, which mirrors Crist’s proposal, would reduce the corporate tax rate for businesses with less than $1 million in taxable income. Crist has defended the reduction, saying it would apply only to smaller businesses, but include most of those in the state.

“Unless we strike as close to a perfect balance as we can for the future of Florida’s economy, we are going to be in real trouble,” Garcia said.

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