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Scott unveils Fla. budget plan at tea party rally

EUSTIS – New Republican Gov. Rick Scott received wild applause from about 1,000 tea party activists when he said the $65.9 billion budget proposal he rolled out Monday would cut government waste and lower taxes.

Scott is proposing $5 billion in spending cuts, about half of that in education, in the next budget year beginning July 1 and another $2.6 billion more the following year.

At the tea party rally in a Baptist church, the new Republican governor compared his look at the current $70.4 billion budget to going up in an attic of an old home.

“Over the last three months I spent a lot of time in that attic and I’m cleaning it out,” Scott said. “There’s things that we need to dust off and repair and protect, and there’s things we need to completely throw away.”

Scott also has proposed cutting pension benefits for state workers, teachers and some local government employees while making them contribute 5 percent of their salaries to their retirement plan. He also wants to cut the state’s work force by 8,645 positions, or nearly 7 percent, next year while reducing pay for prison employees.

Scott also wants to spend more on economic development and cut $4.1 billion in fees and taxes as part of a two-year spending plan. His proposal includes a $1.4 billion cut in the state’s corporate income tax that he eventually wants to phase out.

Businesses also would get a $630.8 million reduction in taxes they pay into the state’s unemployment compensation program. Scott also wants to roll back motor vehicle fees that lawmakers increased a couple years ago by $360 million.

He told the crowd he’s going through every line of the budget and removing any item that isn’t essential government spending.