For Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Pushing Scott's Tax Cuts Is Job One

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: February 4, 2014 3:55 AM
Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Rick Scott

Rick Scott and Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Sworn in Monday as Florida's 19th lieutenant governor and the first Hispanic ever named to the position, Carlos Lopez-Cantera vowed to make his first task shepherding Gov. Rick Scott's $500 million in tax cuts through the Florida Legislature.

“Under Governor Scott’s leadership, I look forward to working with my friends in both parties, to cut $500 million in taxes for Florida families this year,” Lopez-Cantera told an assembly of mostly family and press.

Scott named Lopez-Cantera lieutenant governor in January, 10 months after Jennifer Carroll resigned the position when her name surfaced in a federal investigation of online gambling.

Lopez-Cantera had been serving as Miami-Dade County property appraiser, a position to which he had been elected after four terms in the Florida House. During his time in Tallahassee, he rose to become House majority leader.

“Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera will make a great addition to the team as we continue to build an opportunity economy in our state,” said Scott. “He has two daughters, like I do, and together we are focused on how we can transform our economy so we aren’t just creating jobs, we are creating careers and opportunities that will be here for our children, grandchildren and all future Floridians for generations to come. I am confident that we have the right person in place to serve Floridians and ensure the passage of our $500 million in tax cuts for Florida families.”

“It is a great honor to serve the people of Florida and Governor Rick Scott,” said Lopez-Cantera. “Governor Scott has led a truly remarkable turnaround in this state, and he has proven he is the right choice for Florida. I am proud to help further Governor Scott’s mission of economic growth and job creation.”

Lopez-Cantera returned to his old stomping grounds, which he called “familiar territory,” in the House chambers for the swearing-in ceremony.

“This is a special opportunity for me to be a part of the governor’s team,” Lopez-Cantera said when it was over. “Governor Scott came into office during one of the worst, if not the worst, economic recessions in the history of our state, our country, and even our globe. Since he took office, he has been determined and has not wavered in his commitment to get Florida’s economy back on track.

Lopez-Cantera pointed to Scott’s record, including unemployment dropping to 6.2 percent, job growth and reduced state debt. Turning to the upcoming legislative session, he said he will fight to push Scott’s call to reduce vehicle registration fees and lower the commercial rent tax. 

“I look forward to promoting policies that create an opportunity economy in this state that will continue to attract new industries and create jobs for Floridians for generations to come. Because, let's face it, this state is the very best place to live.”

Closing his speech by repeating Scott’s campaign slogan, “let’s get to work,” the new lieutenant governor also showed politics were on his mind. With Scott running for a second term in November, Lopez-Cantera is expected to be his running mate.

Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), had kind words for the newly inaugurated lieutenant governor on Monday.

“This is a great day for Floridians everywhere as we welcome Carlos Lopez-Cantera to serve as the 19th lieutenant governor of the state of Florida,” Curry said. “Carlos is a well-respected leader with years of experience fighting for Florida families. This day holds even more historic significance as he becomes the first Hispanic lieutenant governor in Florida. I look forward to the leadership of Governor Rick Scott and Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera as they work to continue to strengthen Florida's economy."

The Florida Democrats fired back, arguing that Lopez-Cantera was out of touch with voters on key issues.

“Today, Rick Scott is doubling down on a misguided agenda that is focused on what helps the wealthiest special interests, not middle class Floridians,” said Allison Tant, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party. “Scott is making it clear to Florida families that taxpayer giveaways to well-connected corporations matter more than improving public education and health care."

“Quite simply, Carlos Lopez-Cantera's wrong priorities make him the wrong choice for Florida," Tant added.

Scott ended the ceremony Monday by pointing to Lopez-Cantera’s credentials and insisting he is the right man to help him grow Florida’s economy.

“As lieutenant governor, Carlos will help us create more jobs in Florida,” Scott said. “He is laser-focused on how we can transform our economy so we aren’t just creating jobs, we are creating careers that will be here for our children.

“He has a history of serving Floridians with integrity as the Miami-Dade property appraiser and a four-term member of the Florida House,” Scott added. “He was successful in ushering through tax reforms, and he was selected by his peers to serve in leadership positions as majority whip and then majority leader. It is clear through his years of service that Carlos knows how to work together to get things done. And his experience will make him a major part of our work to cut taxes for Florida families by $500 million this year.

“Carlos is also committed to helping job creators all across Florida,” Scott concluded. “Like my family, Carlos and his family have experience with small business. He knows the type of reforms that will help Florida businesses thrive and he will travel the state to make sure our job creators can continue to succeed. Florida is a global hub for business and we are competing for investment all across the world every single day. I look forward to Carlos helping us attract even more jobs and opportunities to the Sunshine State.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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