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Nancy Smith

Other Conservative States Look to Follow No-State-Income-Tax Florida

January 14, 2013 - 6:00pm

Are Florida's leaders taking the state in the right direction?Grover Norquist, head of the Washington-based anti-tax lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform, answers that question in a single word: "Absolutely."

But, he cautions, watch out, Florida: "Other conservative states are giving you some competition."

In Tallahassee last week talking with Sunshine State News, Norquist lauded Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Legislature's efforts to improve Florida's economic dynamic and hold the line on taxes. But he said at least half a dozen other states -- probably many more than that -- are trying to offer the same vibrant, free-flowing business climate as Scott is in Florida.

"The Democrats didn't win anything more than four years in the White House," Norquist said. "Look at the national map. We've got 25 all-red states -- meaning a Republican governor, a Republican House and a Republican Senate. " Republican ideals, a conservative fiscal philosophy, a belief that the federal government isn't going to produce a tax overhaul anytime soon -- those are the issues that unite the red states, he said.

Thirty-seven of the 50 states now have single-party control of legislatures and governor's chairs: 25 Republican, 12 Democratic. Unlike on Capitol Hill, in those states partisan gridlock is "no biggee," making difficult projects such as tax reform easier.

According to a study released in December, as many as 15 states are expected to put some sort of tax reform legislation in motion this year.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) study points to reform packages that range from a sales tax extension in Kansas to the elimination of personal income taxes in North Carolina.The proposals afloat in North Carolina would cut income taxes by $10 billion and corporate taxes by $1 billion.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced last week he wants to end the state's income tax and corporate taxes, with sales taxes compensating for lost revenue.

The 15 states ITEP pegs with the most potential for major tax reform in 2013:California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana. Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Nebraska, Ohio,Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The study also offers a "states worth watching for tax reform" list:Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Washington, D.C.-based economist and political strategist Sarah Parkington told Sunshine State News, as aggressive as Gov. Rick Scott is in stealing companies away from other states, he might have to step up his game when legislatures in those states with Republican majorities adjourn for 2013. "A lot of them are going to have new tools in place to balance their budgets and keep their businesses happy and at home, not wandering off to Florida."

Reach Nancy Smith at or at (850) 727-0859.

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