- 2013 - December - 18th -

Scott pushes for repeal of increase in car tag fees

By Carole Hawkins, Contributing Writer

Gov. Rick Scott called for a repeal of the 2009 increase in motor vehicle registration fees during a Tuesday visit to Jacksonville.

The measure would return $401 million to Floridians as an improving economy brings more revenue to the state.

It also would place Scott within striking distance of his pledge to deliver $500 million in tax cuts and reduced fees in next year's budget.

"It's part of a three-part plan to give you back more of the money you earned," Scott said. "It's not the government's money, it's your money."  

The state will see a surplus of $1.2 million in its 2014-15 budget, according to projections by Florida TaxWatch, an independent taxpayer research institute.

That's more than enough to fund the reduction in car tag fees, said TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro.

Karen Woodall, executive director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, a think tank that studies how policies impact low- and moderate-income communities, said if the Legislature enacts a tax cut, this particular one makes the most sense because it gives money back to people of all income levels.

But, she hopes it will be paid for by closing tax loopholes, instead of coming out of the budget surplus.

The issue will likely figure into Scott's re-election fight against former Gov. Charlie Crist, who signed the increases into law in 2009.

Speaking by phone Tuesday, Crist said he welcomes getting rid of the increased fees, something he said should have been done long ago.

"When we did the registration fee, we were in the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression," Crist said. "We had to make tough decisions and do what was right to make sure we could continue to pay our school teachers and our police officers and our firefighters. It was never intended to be permanent."

But Calabro said that's debatable, since there was no language in the law to suggest it was intended to be temporary.

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