Calling a rare late-session committee meeting, the Florida Senate has unveiled a final tax package that grants $120 million a year in tax breaks to phosphate miners, aircraft-engine makers, onshore oil-drillers and many others.
The package, approved Wednesday by the Senate Budget Committee, also added some new goodies, such as allowing companies that develop "interactive websites" from within Florida to qualify for tax credits through the state's nearly $300 million film-and-entertainment incentive program.
Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander said the legislation (HB 7087) was negotiated by House and Senate leaders. "This represents ... the consensus between the House and the Senate on what the tax package would look like," Alexander said.
The package includes nearly two-dozen separate provisions, many of them pushed by specific industries or companies. Among them:
-- Bigger sales-tax breaks for manufacturers that purchase machinery and other equipment and for airplane-repair businesses.
-- New sales-tax breaks for gas-turbine and aircraft-engine manufacturers and for taxicab and shuttle companies that buy handicap-accessible vehicles.
-- Sales-tax exemptions for electricity used in cattle- or hog-meat packinghouses -- a provision specifically to help a Canadian billionaire develop a new packing facility in Marion County -- as well as electricity used in fruit or vegetable packinghouses.
-- Reduced severance-tax rates for companies that mine phosphate rock or drill for oil in older, onshore wells.
-- New tax-break-filled enterprise zones in Charlotte and Citrus counties
One provision would allow distillers to make liquors with alcoholic content greater than 135 proof, which Alexander said would help "a couple" of struggling distillers in the state. Another would authorize rural Hendry County to sell its Airglades airport to a private company.
Yet another would steer as much as $3 million a year in cigarette-tax proceeds to a research-grant program at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute -- a priority of House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.
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