Jeb Bush on Tax Reform

Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect


1994: Require voter approval of any new taxes

Bush [in his 1994 campaign] laid out a plan to require that any proposed new taxes be approved directly by Florida voters, a strategy that would have made it nearly impossible to pass them. What state revenue there was, Bush said, should be used whenever possible to hire private corporations to replace state employees: "We must push privatization [of government] in every area where privatization is possible," Bush told the Sentinel.
Source: New York Times 2015 interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 11, 2015

No pledge on taxes; trade-offs on taxes means leadership

On domestic issues, the Bush family is synonymous among some conservatives with tax increases and federal spending. Perhaps the greatest sin in the modern conservative movement is George H. W. Bush's 1990 budget deal where he traded tax increases for budget savings. Jeb Bush has cited his father's compromise as the epitome of presidential leadership.

In his positions on fiscal policy, Jeb Bush has given comfort to the suspicious. When asked about the hypothetical trade-off posited during a 2012 GOP debate, where no GOP candidate would accept a dollar of tax increases in exchange for 10 dollars in spending reductions, Jeb Bush took a different view. "If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we're going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement--put me in, coach," he said at the time. He has also criticized Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge that few GOP lawmakers refuse to sign.

Source: John Dickerson on Slate.com, "Hard on the GOP" , Mar 31, 2014

Compromise on taxes ok, as part of a spending cut package

Q: You have taken some heat for your suggestion that you might be willing to accept higher taxes as part of a grand bargain, if you also got serious spending cuts, and you also gotten some entitlement reform. Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist said: "People are looking for someone who's tough and you are saying, 'I'll fold.'"

BUSH: What we ought to be focused on in Washington is to build consensus on the things where there's an agreement. Maybe that would be on creating sustained economic growth which creates more revenue than any tax increase. But I don't think that you should automatically say, "No. Heck, no." We have to find in a divided country ways to forge compromise. [Reagan] did exactly that, he forged consensus, he compromised, he didn't violate his principles. So, the idea that you have to have this doctrinaire view [like Grover Norquist's "No taxes" pledge], but you're not necessarily going to be able to solve these pressing problems that we have.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2013 interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 10, 2013

Remove Intangibles Tax on stocks, bonds & dividends

Over the course of his administration the Bush legislation produced $19.1 billion in tax cuts. The centerpiece of Bush's tax-reform effort was the abolition of the state's Intangible Personal Property Tax.

When Governor Bush came into office, Florida was one of only a handful of states that utilized some form of an intangibles tax. This tax was levied on stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, and other such investments. "By design, the tax is aimed at the state's wealthier residents" and in the absence of an income tax was initiated to derive at least some revenue from the personal income of wealthy citizens and corporations. While it was the most progressive of the taxes employed by the state, it was described by the governor as "evil and insidious," "counterproductive and unfair." Governor Bush worked to reduce it in every legislative session between 1999 and 2006, when it was finally abolished. Its elimination accounted for nearly 30% of the tax cuts he initiated.

Source: Aggressive Conservatism in Florida, by Robert Crew, p.102-3 , Dec 11, 2009

1987: supported sales service tax; 1998: opposed it

As Gov. Bob Martinez's Secretary of Commerce in 1987-8, perhaps Jeb's most memorable episode was his public support for the issue that proved to be Martinez' undoing: an expansion of the sales tax onto services, rather than just goods. Martinez originally endorsed the plan and then--months after its passage but under pressure from service providers, especially advertisers--called a special session for its repeal. The governor was never able to recover from this phenomenal flip-flop, and was easily defeated in 1990. In early 1987, Jeb came out solidly behind his boss: "If this is a way to broaden taxation and at the same time lower the rate, I think a lot of people would really go for it."

Even as he was publicly supporting the services tax, he had privately sent Martinez a letter telling him it was a bad idea. And in 1998, Jeb was able to produce the letter when his Democratic opponent started talking about the services tax and how Jeb had once supported it.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p. 79-80 , Feb 15, 2007

Cutting "intangibles tax" helps "seniors and savers"

Saying that you're helping the rich doesn't play well, so Jeb and his people came up with a host of other reasons to eliminate the state's one tax on the rich: the tax's inefficiency; its alleged "unfairness."

Jeb knew it would be tough to create any public empathy for the actual "victims" of this tax, and so he and his people invented a new description for them: "seniors and savers." They produced statistics to show that a disproportionate number of people who paid this tax were elderly. And indeed, many of them probably were "savers."

In 2004, Jeb explained that the intangibles tax was unfair because it affected only a few hundred thousand people out of a state population of, by then, some 17 million. It never quite got around to explaining that the one common factor these 233,000 people all had was that they were rich.

Jeb reveled in the catchword insidious, which he tried to use whenever he was talking about the tax. "The insidious intangibles tax," he never tired of saying.

Source: America's Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p.279-280 , Feb 15, 2007

Supports estate tax repeal, but not at states’ expense

Even as they deal with declining revenue growth from a softening economy, states are scrambling to plan for the potential loss of $50 billion to $100 billion over 10 years from the repeal of the federal estate tax enacted last month. The loss in revenue would come because states for 75 years have tied their own estate and inheritance taxes to the federal estate tax.

Governors are also chafing under a Congressional timetable that calls for the states to lose their tax revenues by 2005 while stretching the repeal of the federal estate tax more gradually over 10 years. Jeb Bush warned about anticipated revenue shortfalls [in Florida], including the expected loss of $210 million from the estate tax in the 2002-03 fiscal year. “While I support the eventual repeal of the estate tax,” Mr. Bush, the president’s brother, wrote, “shifting the burden merely allows Washington to spend more, while requiring us to spend less.”

Source: Kevin Sack, NY Times , Jun 21, 2001

Don’t broaden county & city taxing authority

Senate Bill 1020 would clearly expand the ability of counties and cities to generate tax revenues beyond current constitutional limitations for property taxes. The bill [clauses passed] without going through a committee and without public debate raising concerns over the awareness of the implications of this [clause]. While I remain sensitive to the financial needs of rural counties, this legislation is not narrowly crafted address those needs. Even in the absence of this legislation, rural counties still have other revenue-raising methods, such as municipal service taxing units, available to them to help address these needs.

Senate Bill 1020 also reduces government accountability to taxpayers by easing the requirements or conditions under which taxpayers must be notified of increases in special assessment rates. If this bill becomes law, there could be many instances in which taxpayers would not be informed of special assessment rate increases until the change appears on their annual tax bills.

Source: Veto notification on Senate Bill 1020 , Jun 1, 2001

Voter approval of tax increases; cut taxes by $1B

[In his campaign], Jeb Bush called for fewer appeals for death row inmates and speedier executions, said Florida should withdraw from AFDC and replace it with limited temporary assistance, and called for school choice and demanded voter approval of all state and local tax increases.

In his first 100 days, Bush’s legislative agenda met with stunning success. He passed a school voucher plan, got longer prison terms for gun-toting criminals, and instituted a $1 billion tax break.

Source: National Journal, the Almanac of American Politics , Jan 28, 2000

No national sales tax or VAT.

Bush adopted the National Governors Association policy:

Source: NGA Executive Committee Policy Statement EC-9 00-NGA1 on Feb 15, 2000

Let states independently determine estate taxes.

Bush adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 37 Governors:

We are writing to request equal treatment between states and the federal government on estate tax changes. Regardless of one’s view about phasing out the federal estate tax, the Governors are absolutely united in opposing any action that would discriminate against states in the phase-out of the state and federal estate taxes. This issue needs to be addressed before the Senate goes to conference with the House.

Governors believe that the ability of states to independently determine their own tax revenue policy is a basic tenet of federalism. Moreover, no federal tax bill should be enacted without close consultation with the states.

At the very least, there must be equity in the treatment of the state death tax credit in the tax bill the Congress considers with the proposed phase-out of the federal estate tax. Governors oppose provisions that impose disproportionate impacts on state revenue systems. The changes proposed by the Senate would have abrupt, significant adverse impacts on state revenues at a particularly onerous time for many states. The potential impact on states would begin next year and have a potential impact of between $50 and $100 billion over the next ten years.

We urge the leaders to respect those rights and to restore fairness.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 01-NGA19 on May 23, 2001

Other governors on Tax Reform: Jeb Bush on other issues:
FL Gubernatorial:
Alexander Snitker
Charlie Crist
Rick Scott
FL Senatorial:
Bill Nelson
Marco Rubio

Gubernatorial Debates 2014:
AL: Bentley(R) vs.Griffith(D)
AR: Ross(D) vs.Hutchinson(R) vs.Griffin(R,Lt.Gov.)
AZ: Ducey(R) vs.DuVal(D) vs.Mealer(AE) vs.Gilbert(L) vs.Riggs(R)
CA: Brown(D) vs.Kashkari(R)
CO: Hickenlooper(D) vs.Beauprez(R) vs.Tancredo(R) vs.Hess(L)
CT: Malloy(D) vs.Foley(R) vs.Walker(R,Lt.Gov.)
FL: Scott(R) vs.Crist(D) vs.Snitker(L,Lt.Gov.)
GA: Deal(R) vs.Carter(D) vs.Hunt(L)
HI: Ige(D) vs.Aiona(R) vs.Abercrombie(D)
IA: Branstad(R) vs.Hatch(D) vs.Hoefling(R)
MA: Coakley(D) vs.Baker(R) &Polito(R,Lt.Gov.) vs.Grossman(D) vs.Berwick(D)
ME: LePage(R) vs.Michaud(D) vs.Cutler(I)
MI: Snyder(R) vs.Schauer(D)
NM: Martinez(R) vs.King(D)
NY: Cuomo(D) &Hochul(D,Lt.Gov.) vs.Astorino(R) vs.Hawkins(G) vs.Teachout(D)
OK: Fallin(R) vs.Dorman(D)
PA: Corbett(R) vs.Wolf(D) vs.Schwartz(D,lost primary) vs.Critz(D,Lt.Gov.,lost primary)
Newly-elected 2014:
AK-I: Bill Walker
AR-R: Asa Hutchinson
AZ-R: Doug Ducey
IL-R: Bruce Rauner
MA-R: Charlie Baker
MD-R: Larry Hogan
NE-R: Pete Ricketts
PA-D: Tom Wolf
RI-D: Gina Raimondo
TX-R: Greg Abbott

Up for re-election 2014:
AK-R: Sean Parnell
AL-R: Robert Bentley
CA-D: Jerry Brown
CO-D: John Hickenlooper
CT-D: Dan Malloy
FL-R: Rick Scott
GA-R: Nathan Deal
HI-D: Neil Abercrombie
IA-R: Terry Branstad
ID-R: Butch Otter
IL-D: Pat Quinn
KS-R: Sam Brownback
ME-R: Paul LePage
MI-R: Rick Snyder
MN-D: Mark Dayton
NH-D: Maggie Hassan
NM-R: Susana Martinez
NV-R: Brian Sandoval
NY-D: Andrew Cuomo
OH-R: John Kasich
OK-R: Mary Fallin
OR-D: John Kitzhaber
PA-R: Tom Corbett
SC-R: Nikki Haley
SD-R: Dennis Daugaard
TN-R: Bill Haslam
VT-D: Peter Shumlin
WI-R: Scott Walker
WY-R: Matt Mead
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Term-Limited or Retiring 2014:
AR-D: Mike Beebe
AZ-R: Jan Brewer
MA-D: Deval Patrick
MD-D: Martin O'Malley
RI-I: Linc Chafee
TX-R: Rick Perry


Page last updated: Jan 19, 2015