Florida Economic Empowerment Program

“The true gauge of the strength of this state’s economy can be measured by the strength and diversity of its’ local county economies.  The bell-weather to determine the overall strength is our ability to feed our school children.  Presently over 50% of Florida’s school children are on the Federally subsidized lunch programs because of their parents’ low income and their inability to feed them properly.  This statistic is reminiscent of a third world country’s economy- For a US State not to be able to feed its’ own children is highly disturbing!  The solution to this problem is to empower Florida businesses to grow and to be able to pay a “Living Wage””.  Florida has the resources, seaports, airports, universities etc., but lacks the focus to address the key issues hampering the development of a healthy diverse economy.

Florida could create a healthy diverse economy by addressing the following issues:

  1. TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX: This is an annual tax on manufacturing production equipment. The Dept of Revenue uses “Market Value” to appraise the equipment. Even though a manufacturer has depreciated the equipment to zero using IRS Depreciation Schedules- the DOR assigns a value and imposes a tax. This Tax is in the Florida Constitution which would have to be amended. A quicker Legislative fix would mandate the DOR to use IRS values for tax purposes. This Tax is a “Deal Killer” in attracting modern, capital equipment intensive manufacturers to Florida. They do not have to be in Florida to serve the Florida market- thus another state or country reaps the economic benefits.  Other states have 9% of their economic base in manufacturing, Florida has 4%. Manufacturing pays higher wages and significant benefits to their employees. It is the most powerful engine of economic growth a state could have, and Florida drives it out!
  2. USE TAX: Florida imposes a USE TAX on all manufactured products that are installed and become part of Real Property.  This tax is imposed on all Government (Federal, State) and private installations worldwide.  This creates a competitive disadvantage for Florida based companies.
  3. STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PURCHASING:  Require such entities to buy from Florida based manufacturers.  To get this preference a manufacturer should certify that they pay a living wage and provide health insurance for their employees. Furthermore, purchasing from out of state companies strengthens the economy of that state at the expense of Florida Taxpayers. Spend Florida tax dollars in Florida!
  4. FLORIDA GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES should be required to purchase products that are “BEST VALUE” not just low price.  Strength of warranties should be part of the consideration
  5. SERVICE-DISABLED VETERAN OWNED BUSINESS:  These certified businesses should receive the same benefits on State and Local purchasing as provided by Federal procurement and many other states.  Florida’s present benefit is a “Tie breaker” rule which is essentially useless!
  6. FLORIDA BASED MANUFACTURERS– create an extremely beneficial economic impact on the communities where they locate. It is reported that for every manufacturing job created- at least 1 to 2 other service jobs are also created.  Further manufacturing supports many other local businesses with its’ ongoing need for components and services.

In summary, 30 years ago China embraced manufacturing and took 850 million people out of poverty. Florida embraced tourism and now cannot feed more than half of its children!

– Kevin Connelly, President, Apollo Sunguard Systems