Apparently, Gov. Rick Scott would rather spare unemployed Floridians from paying taxes than help them get a job.
On Thursday, the governor backed out of a deal under which online retailer Amazon.com would have received incentives to build at least one distribution center in Florida and possibly another. According to news reports, the Amazon presence could create as many as 2,500 jobs.
If this sounds like Donald Trump passing up an open microphone, you’re right. Gov. Scott has been touting every minimum-wage job that comes to Florida. Also on Thursday, he was hyping today’s announcement of Florida’s unemployment rate. Not for nothing might some Floridians think that the governor has changed his name to “It’s Working.”
If Amazon had a facility in Florida, Amazon would have to collect Florida’s sales tax. That would be good news. Without an income tax, this state depends on the 6 percent sales tax. But only retailers with a physical presence in the state have to collect the tax, based on a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision. As more commerce goes online, much of it with Amazon as the broker, Florida loses out on revenue that finances education, health care and public safety.
So, Amazon would bring jobs and money? What could be better? To the governor, though, Amazon also would bring a potential problem. “Gov. Scott does not want to raise taxes in Florida,” his office told the Associated Press in a statement. In the governor’s mind, voters choosing between him and the Democratic nominee next year could blame him for a supposed “new” tax. But that would be “raising” taxes only in the governor’s mind. The sales tax already applies to online purchases. Buyers are supposed to send the money to the state. Of course, no one does.
The state’s retailers were OK with Amazon coming, since they no longer would be at a tax disadvantage. The U.S. Senate — no thanks to Marco Rubio and one of his anti-tax ideologue moments — just acted to stop online freeloading. And we would guess that Floridians looking for work would care more about a real “new” job than a supposed “new” tax.
Because of House Speaker Will Weatherford’s political selfishness, one million working poor Floridians lost a chance to get health insurance. Gov. Scott just placed his political career ahead of non-working Floridians.
for The Post Editorial Board