Governor-elect Rick Scott went on his "Let's Get to Work" tour of Florida. St. Petersburg Times business columnist Robert Trigaux noted a question Scott is getting asked by business executives.
Certainly one strategy emerging in Scott's arsenal appears to be incentives. Most states wave incentive packages at businesses to persuade them to relocate, to expand or to stay where they are when other states come calling.
The challenge during hard economic times? Incentives typically require tax dollars or, at least, the promise to businesses of lower taxes in the future.
Trigaux's question about tax incentives is easy to answer. Florida is facing a state budget shortfall. The money isn't there for state assistance. Instead, Scott will create more corporate tax loopholes. This will only add to future budget problems. Is hard to explain how many of these corporate tax cuts will create jobs.
The City of Tampa took the St. Petersburg Times Forum off of the tax rolls. Former owner Bill Davidson said he couldn't afford to keep the team in Tampa if he actually had to pay taxes. The city happily obliged and saved Vincent Lecavalier's job.
In truth, Lecavalier would just be playing hockey for the Lightning in another city. Most of the workers at the St. Petersburg Times Forum are only employed part-time. I should know since I used to work there. The City of Tampa spent millions to build a venue for the Lightning and then is collected little if nothing in return on tax. Ask yourself if you would build a a retail store for a rich person and then not ask for rent payments. That is exactly the kind of incentives Rick Scott will implement.
Another fun fact: taxes aren't levied at people who rent luxury suites at sports venues in Florida.
The St. Petersburg Times did a special report in 2003 on Florida's tax loopholes. Many corporations end up paying no taxes to the state.
Carnival Corp., Florida's 10th-largest public company with 4,220 South Florida employees and a $136-million state payroll, posted more than $1-billion in profits last year.
It also paid nothing in Florida corporate income tax.
Neither did Verizon Communications Inc., the phone giant that employs 12,500 people in Florida, or Saddlebrook Resorts Inc., the elite retreat in Wesley Chapel that is home to a famous tennis training center.
In fact, 98 percent of the estimated 1.5-million businesses in Florida paid nothing. And many of those that did pay found ways to reduce their tax bills.
Trigaux notes Florida has one of the most corporate-friendly tax systems in the country. In Scott's mind, big government is keeping corporations down. Scott is still stinging from Columbia/HCA $1.7 billion fine and being forced off the companies board.
The truth is pay is low k-12 schools are among the worst in the country. Companies look at these things when they move branches to Florida. Transportation and urban sprawl are horrible. Students graduate from FSU, UF and USF only to seek work out of state. These are the things that need to be changed, in order to create jobs. Scott's solution is hire Ayn Rand fanboys to deal with transportation.