State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise (Pic by Minority Office, via flsenate.gov)

Democratic legislators announced an effort to change the state’s tax structure at a press conference in the capitol today.

State Sens. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, and Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, and Reps. Evan Jenne, D- Fort Lauderdale, and Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, introduced a measure that Rich said would “create a tax structure that would meet the needs of the state’s residents.”

Rich said that corporations have not been paying their “fair share,” which has led to “draconian budget cuts … that shortchange children’s education” and health needs.

She said Florida policy-makers have presented a “false choice” when discussing the tough decisions that need to be made in the face of billion dollar shortfalls in the state budget. She said the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott have been “all too willing to sacrifice” public services “to benefit large corporations.”

“This obviously hasn’t worked,” Rich said. “It’s time to try something different.”

Rich introduced two bills this week to tackle the problems she and her colleagues underscored today.

Senate Bill 1590 would increase revenue brought in through corporate income taxes. Jenne has introduced the House version of the bill. Rich also introduced Senate Bill 1870, which would create more transparency and accountability for businesses receiving subsidies or tax breaks in the state. Similar legislation has been introduced by Jenne, Braynon and state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, in the House.

A couple of months ago, the Florida Center on Fiscal and Economic Policy called on state policy-makers to evaluate whether or not the many tax breaks and grants afforded to companies by the state of Florida are actually creating jobs. Since Scott and the GOP-led Legislature got to work on creating a business-friendly environment in Florida, little has been done to make sure that such efforts have had a real effect on the state’s struggling economy, the report argued. According to the group, at least $4 billion in annual breaks have been given to businesses in the state of Florida in the past couple of years.

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