Florida's premium tax credit
Tax credit promotes jobs, savings
For decades, Florida has offered insurance companies a performance-based tax credit that has resulted in significant job creation, bolstering Florida's economy and helping to keep insurance rates affordable.
Senate Bill 378, by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would end that by repealing tax credits available to insurers in order to lower taxes currently levied on telecommunications, video, cable and satellite television. Cutting one tax but increasing another by eliminating tax credits that have been working as intended would likely amount to a $300 million tax increase and higher insurance rates.
The insurance premium tax credits allow insurers to deduct 15 percent of the employee salary for each job they create or import to Florida from the premium tax they pay each year to the state. Insurers only get the credit if they actually create or import a job. They don't get a credit for a mere promise of creating jobs.
An independent evaluation of the tax credit found it has helped create 40,000 insurance industry-related jobs since 2008. While many industries were laying off workers during the Great Recession, the insurance industry, thanks in part to the credit, was able to create good-paying jobs for Floridians.
With the assistance of this credit, the insurance industry today touts more than 200,000 jobs that collectively pay about $12 billion in total salaries to Florida workers.
If this tax credit is repealed, Florida will be sending a conflicting message to businesses that are thinking about relocating to Florida, and it could even cause companies to bypass Florida and relocate to a state that offers the tax credits they thought they would have here.
It would be a mistake to repeal tax credits that have contributed to Florida's economy. We urge lawmakers to reject SB 378 to prevent higher premiums for all purchasers of insurance.
Michael Carlson, Tallahassee
The writer is president of the Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, a trade association of insurance companies that provide automobile and homeowners' property insurance.
Phase out private prisons in Florida | March 10, editorial
I agree with your editorial on phasing out private prisons in Florida. As a counselor in New Jersey, I worked with paroled prisoners, some of whom spent time in privatized halfway houses before their parole. If you had money, you would pay for transportation to a job, which is helpful for training purposes and to build up funds. If you had no money for transportation, you languished in the halfway house until your release, with no money and no training.
I was told that the food at the halfway houses was even worse than the prison food. After word got out, prisoners began refusing to go to the halfway houses, preferring prison.
Privatized prisons are run for profit. In the work world, the quality of your product usually has a major effect on your profits. In prisons, the consumers who depend on your product are a captive group, with no voice.
Wayne Sager, Clearwater
Reeves' argument denied | March 11
Bail is not appropriate
Now that the "stand your ground" defense has been denied for Curtis Reeves, when will his bail be revoked? A man accused of second-degree murder, no matter what his age, and no matter that he is a retired police office, should be taken off the streets.
P.J. Jaccoi, Sun City Center
At last, a health debate | March 8, commentary
Mandates are nothing new
The columnist has a problem accepting the government's right to order or mandate that everyone has insurance or be penalized for noncompliance. He calls this "grotesque government overreach" and "the notion of requiring citizens to make a purchase an affront to basic liberty." I wonder he drives a car or other motor vehicle. If he does, I'll bet he has to purchase automobile liability insurance or his registration plates will be taken away, along with facing a hefty fine.
Want to start a business? You guessed it: You need to purchase business liability insurance before a license is granted. Want to open a medical practice? You need malpractice insurance. Want to get a mortgage for a home? The bank requires that you purchase homeowner's insurance to protect their investment. So it seems we have been living with government-issued mandates for a long time now, and we seem to be doing just fine.
Mike Quartucci, Zephyrhills
What Democrats believe | March 11, letter
What Republicans believe
• All authorized legal citizens have the right to vote. Supporting laws that require proof of citizenship at the time of voter registration to protect our electoral system against the threat of voter fraud is common sense.
• Foreign policy should be focused on American interests and American national security. Peace through strength will make for a more stable, peaceful world. In regard to snuggling up with dictators, wasn't that President Barack Obama we saw last year in Cuba, meeting with the dictator of one of the worst regimes in the world, Raul Castro?
• The health care system should be based in free markets, which allows for competition and keeps health care costs down. It should not be forced down the throats of citizens by the government; instead, we should be allowed the freedom to make our own choices.
• Protecting the environment with clean air and water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources are a high priority.
• Some of the most violent cities, like Chicago, have the strictest gun laws. That doesn't prevent the criminals from getting their hands on them. The Second Amendment protects law-abiding citizens' right to keep and bear arms.
• Pro-growth tax reform will help workers and businesses keep more of their earnings.
Mary Cascio, Spring Hill