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Florida lawmakers may consider gas tax ‘holiday’

St. Petersburg Times
A plan to provide Florida drivers with a one-month, 10-cent break from the state's gasoline tax will likely be taken up by the Senate, but that chamber's president said he's still skeptical.

The Senate has set aside $70-million to pay for the break in August, indicating its willingness to consider it. But as lawmakers try to resolve budget differences in the session's final days, the idea has become a bargaining chip.

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, a top lieutenant to Senate President Jim King, said Wednesday the chamber will likely take up the issue despite skepticism about whether the dime savings would flow all the way down to consumers.

There's no guarantee it will gain final approval, said King, R-Jacksonville. "We're not convinced that it's a good idea at all."

The measure was first proposed this session by Democratic Rep. Bob Henriquez of Tampa. House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, R-Plant City, then made it a House priority, saying any tax break was a good one, and it received bipartisan backing in that chamber.

For someone using 20 gallons of gas a week, the tax break would mean a savings of about $8.60 for the month.

Back-to-school sales tax break likely
A plan where Floridians would have a nine-day holiday from paying sales tax on clothes, books and school supplies is a step closer to becoming reality.

The House showed strong support for the proposal, but did not vote during its Wednesday session on a plan (HB 237) where consumers - from July 24 through Aug. 1 - wouldn't pay tax on clothing and books costing up to $100, and school supplies costing up to $10.

The Senate also supports a tax holiday, and although its plan is slightly different, it is leaning toward going along with the House, said Senate Budget Chairman Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie.

The break from the 6 percent sales tax was popular from 1998 to 2001, but the Legislature didn't do it in either of the last two years because of budget constraints.

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