Cheaper license renewal fee in Gov. Scott’s tax-cut proposal

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Driver’s license fees would be slashed as part of nearly $180 million in tax cuts Gov. Rick Scott proposed Monday.

A series of new and expanded sales-tax holidays would be offered as another component of the package Scott proposed during a visit to the city.

The tax cuts would come as the Florida legislature faces a tight budget for the upcoming fiscal year. But Scott insisted there is enough to support the measures.

MORE: Florida senator accused of groping removed as budget chair

“We have a good economy, we have a good budget,” Scott said during his visit, which took place at Alufab USA, a window installation business on 6360 Topaz Court. “We have revenues to be able to do this.”

His Fort Myers was one of a series of campaign-style events the lame-duck governor made Monday around the state.

“Over the past seven years, we have worked relentlessly to turn around Florida’s economy, and the results are clear,” Scott, who is barred from seeking a third term next year, said in a prepared statement.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who will take over as Senate president after the 2018 elections, has recently acknowledged that the state could face $1 billion-plus shortfalls in the coming years.

Under the package released Monday, Scott’s proposed sales tax holidays would account for $88 million of the tax savings.

“One will be a 10-day sales tax holiday for going back to school so our parents have money to buy the supplies for their children,” Scott said, “And No. 2 will be three separate one-week sales tax holidays to get ready for hurricane season.”

The governor’s office estimates the driver’s license savings at $91 million during the fiscal year that starts July 1.

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Under Scott’s proposal, renewal fees for regular driver’s licenses would go from $48 to $20, while fees for first-time licenses would fall from $48 to $27.

Scott also is proposing to reduce a fee on commercial driver’s licenses from $75 to $67, while providing an 18 percent reduction on traffic-citation fees for motorists who attend a basic driver- improvement school.

Lawmakers approved increased fees for motorists as part of a much-wider effort in 2009 to balance the state’s budget after the recession slashed revenues.

“I want to get that back down to 20 bucks,” Scott said. “It was $48. You can’t let politicians and Tallahassee raise your taxes.”

This is not the first time Scott has targeted the 2009 increases, which were passed under then-Gov. Charlie Crist. In 2014, vehicle-registration fees were rolled back on average $25 a year.

Scott, who plans to release a proposed state budget in the coming weeks, also reiterated Monday his backing of a potential constitutional amendment that would be make it harder to raise taxes by requiring a “super-majority” two-thirds vote by the House and Senate for future tax or fee increases.

Sen. Jack Latvala, who was removed Monday as Senate budget chief amid an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, questioned the potential constitutional amendment last week.

Latvala said House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Scott have enough appointees on the Constitution Revision Commission, which is considering a similar proposal, to put the issue before voters in the 2018 general election without the proposal going through the Legislature.

“Why is it necessary to have a legislative fight over an amendment to limit tax increases in the future, unless it’s to get some press or get some recognition for the legislators involved?” Latvala asked.

Scott is expected to run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, while Corcoran is expected to join the embattled Latvala in a run for governor.

Information from The News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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